The Fear-Love Spectrum of Finishing
Every time I purchase lacquer at a professional paint store, I have the following conversation.
Me: “Could you put that gallon in the paint-mixing machine for a couple minutes? That will save me some time.”
Employee: “I’ll do it, but you won’t like it. You’ll create bubbles in the finish.”
Me: “I’ll risk it.”
I’ve been taking this risk for more than 15 years, and I have yet to have a single problem with lacquer, or really any finish. During my time at Popular Woodworking Magazine, I am most grateful for the education I received from editing and reading Bob Flexner’s columns.
He has dispelled more myths and stuck a fork in more misperceptions than any other modern woodworking writer I can think of. Flexner’s biggest strength is that he takes nothing at face value. He refuses to simply repeat “conventional wisdom” until he has tested it out himself.
More times than not, that wisdom turns out to be mistaken.
1. You have to finish both sides of a board. Bunk.
2. You can’t apply a film finish over linseed oil. Bunk.
3. You should never shake a can of film finish. Double-bunk.
I could go on and on, but Bob has done the job for you in his columns in Popular Woodworking and his excellent books.
I won’t lie: Bob can sometimes come off as a bit abrasive or sound like he’s on a crusade. He’s actually a sweet guy. He’s willing to change his mind. And most importantly – he is on your side. He doesn’t represent wood finishing companies and he cannot be muzzled.
This morning I’m applying some shellac and lacquer over a cured oil finish and can’t help but think of the guy and how he has made finishing a straightforward process with the minimum voodoo.
If you don’t have his books, you can rectify that at ShopWoodworking.com. “Wood Finishing 101” is a great place to start. “Flexner on Finishing” is the next step. “Understanding Wood Finishing” is his best book.
— Christopher Schwarz