Flexner on Finishing Blog


Bob Flexner is a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking and the author of woodworking finishing books, including “Flexner on Finishing,” “Understanding Wood Finishing,” and “Wood Finishing 101,” available at ShopWoodworking.com. Also available are his DVDs on “Repairing Furniture” and “Refinishing Furniture.” Bob is probably best known for defining the products used in wood finishing and organizing them into categories that make them easily understandable.

He’ll also be writing here about furniture restoration – another of his areas of expertise.
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How I got Rid of Leaf and Pine Needle Stains on a Deck

You may recall that I have a brother who comes up with some very unusual finish problems. This one’s a beauty. As with many people, my brother has a deck attached to his house. The house is located in the Northwest, and last winter the snow remained on the ground for...

Polyurethane is Almost Always the Best Finish for Wood Floors

We are offering a spectacular collection of products by Bob Flexner at shopwoodworking.com right now. Check it out here, Finishing with Bob Flexner Collection. The two key considerations for choosing a wood floor finish are resistance to scratches and the large surface to be covered. To stand up to abuse, you need...

Spontaneous Combustion & Oil Finishes: Drape Rags Over the Edge of a Trash Can to Avoid a Fire

Drying oils, especially linseed oil (raw or boiled), are the only finishing materials that spontaneously combust. Solvents don’t spontaneously combust, paint strippers (including paint or finish residue) don’t spontaneously combust, and no type of varnish spontaneously combusts. It’s not totally clear whether 100% tung oil can spontaneously combust, so treat it...

Titanium Dioxide a Carcinogen? Europe Thinks It Is

It’s not just solvents such as methylene chloride that are coming under scrutiny as suspected human carcinogens. (I wrote about methylene chloride in the June, 2017 issue of Popular Woodworking.) The European Chemicals Agency’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) just classified titanium dioxide as a suspected cause of cancer. What is...

What to Do When White Oak Won’t Take Stain Evenly

I received a question from a woodworker who had made an end table from quartersawn white oak and had a problem with the stain penetrating unevenly. The problem showed up just on the end grain, not the long grain. And it showed up on both ends of the board. The woodworker...

Suspicions Confirmed: Zero VOC Claims Exaggerated

Ever since water-based paints and finishes began carving out a market for replacing solvent-based products, claims for the amount of solvent these products contain have been getting increasingly lower. That is, until a few years ago when some products actually began claiming zero VOCs. I’ve been suspicious of this claim ever...