Wood Finishing Techniques and Advice

Step panels can give you a peek into the future

Written by Greg Williams Monday, 15 August 2016 00:00

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A very talented and accomplished woodworker of my acquaintance constructed a fairly large decorative object of solid walnut. A dealer commissioned the piece for display at a craft show and it involved metal as well as the wood. The desired finish was to be a warm brown, very transparent, very smooth but with little film build, emphasizing the figure and depth of the wood and contrasting with the bright-silver trim elements.

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Helpful hints for applying water-based finishes

Written by Bob Flexner Monday, 18 July 2016 00:00

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Switching from solvent- to water-based finishes has some advantages, primarily reduced odor and fire hazard, as well as reduced harm to the environment. But the switch can be difficult because the application is different.

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Mastering the basics leads to finer finishes

Written by Greg Williams Monday, 13 June 2016 00:00

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In looking over some of the correspondence I’ve received from readers of this column for the last seven years or so, I noticed that many of the questions asked can be answered by reviewing the basics of wood finishing. Among the issues most often raised are: What is the best (finish, topcoat, stain, filler and sandpaper) to use? How do I (perform some task)? What went wrong?

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Mixed messages have hurt the condition of old furniture pieces

Written by Bob Flexner Monday, 16 May 2016 00:00

28_bob_fexnerFinishes deteriorate as they age. First they dull, then they begin to craze and crack. Over a very long period of time, finishes deteriorate because of contact with oxygen called “oxidation.” But bright UV light — especially sunlight and fluorescent light — accelerates the deterioration so much that you can reasonably think of the deterioration as caused by light alone.

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Which fill-in methods make the most sense?

Written by Greg Williams Monday, 11 April 2016 00:00

gregwilliamsToday, most finishers use wax filler sticks that can be melted and dripped into a void. For small defects, such as open joints and scratches, the filler sticks can be rubbed vigorously into the void before leveling. While the wax formulations have the least durability of the fillers we’ll explore, some of the harder versions are solid enough to serve in relatively low-wear areas if they are coated with a durable topcoat.

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