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Bob Flexner

Grandchildren can be a great help.

About six years ago, Megan Fitzpatrick, the editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, asked me to join the group of editors blogging on the magazine website. I don’t remember why I turned her down. Maybe I was just really busy. Anyway, the possibility came up again recently and I jumped at the chance. I have a lot to say.

You may be familiar with me through my long-running column, “Flexner on Finishing,” in the magazine, or from one of my books on finishing. Or maybe you attended one of my finishing classes in the ’90s and 2000s.

I began woodworking by restoring an old house in Washington D.C. while I was in the Navy in the mid-1960s. I continued off and on working in cabinet shops overseas. In 1976 my wife, two boys and I moved back to the U.S. and I opened a woodworking shop with the intention of making custom furniture.

Orders didn’t keep up with the time I had available, though, so I expanded into restoring old furniture. After half-a-dozen years doing both, I realized that I liked the restoration part a lot more, so I pretty well stopped making furniture and concentrated just on restoration. I loved it, and there was always plenty of work.

But there was a problem. Part of restoration is stripping and finishing, and I became very confused because of the contradictory information in magazines, books and from manufacturers. I became very frustrated.

In the late 1980s, I was asked to make two videos (now DVDs) on repairing and refinishing furniture for Taunton Press (Fine Woodworking). Fortunately (for me) they wanted the repair video first, so I knew I would have almost a year to try to make sense of finishing.

I used that time well, and it led, after a few years, to a new career writing about wood finishing, and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of doing this ever since.

In this blog I intend to write about finishes and wood finishing, of course, but also about furniture restoration and conservation, some history, and about coatings (paints and finishes) in general. I find the understanding of coatings and all the changes taking place fascinating.

Until next time…

— Bob Flexner


Editor’s note – You’ll find all of Bob’s books in our store: “Flexner on Finishing” and “Wood Finishing 101.”

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Showing 12 comments
  • DavidWood

    Hey Bob this will be great, having you on somewhat regularly. Finishing is one of the most important parts of woodworking; it can bring together even poorly-chosen elements (I’ve done a few) and make them look better if you think about it. But there’s always more to learn!

  • Mark Lorge

    Great to see that you are going to spread some more of your knowledge around. We use your book as the basis for our finishing units at Fox Valley Technical College and they are very well written in a manner that our students can understand. Looking forward to more.

  • LGSmith

    Have your books and read your articles but still lots to learn.

  • keithm

    This is great news! I’ve learned so much from your books, articles, and a seminar you gave here in Cincinnati. Looking forward to reading your blog posts.

  • Woodward

    Looking forward to more from Bob Flexnor. I also have your books and have benefited from your work. I have specifics questions about finishing as I go further in my time with wood and wood working. It would be great if your blog could find a way to address issues that aren’t covered in your books.

    Anyway, glad you are on board with this side of communicating to your audience

  • OldWoodman

    I have your “Understanding Wood Finishing”. It’s my go-to-book for finishing. You’re the man.

  • gpa999

    The information that I have gleaned for your book and the articles that you have written has really given me the confidence to take on more involved finishing challenges . Just wanted to say thank you!

  • BLZeebub

    Three cheers, Bob! Your books are permanent members in my wood book collection and much used too. Welcome welcome welcome!

  • Julio Alonso

    Hello Mr Flexner.
    I am happy to send you a Hi from Spain. I have learnt a lot thanks to you and I think I must let it know you. Thank you very much for your analysis of wood finishings.
    Have a wonderful welcome!!

  • Graham Haydon

    Look forward to learning from you Bob! Welcome 🙂

  • Christopher Hawkins

    This is a major “get” for the magazine. I’ve got three of your books and am looking forward to your blog posts.

  • Justin

    Your articles have always been some of my favorites! You really lifted the veil on “the man behind the curtain” and I feel like I have a much better understanding of wood finishes thanks to your work. Welcome to the blog, I look forward to following you here as well!

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