Skip to main content

Dying to try something new

Last time, I talked about using shellac to finish a major project for the first time in years. I was so pleased with the results that I resolved to try some other long-neglected shop techniques again.

Out of general preference I usually stick with what I've used in the past that's given me good results: polyurethane, pigment stains, oak, yellow glue, the router table for dados and rabbet joints, and stuff like that. My experience with shellac made me rethink what I use and how I work.

For example, the bit I use most often in my router table is a straight bit. I generally just leave the bit in the table, and when I need a quick rabbet joint it's always ready to go. Why bother with the hassle of changing the table saw over to a dado set and then back again? I've always been pleased with my router-cut rabbets, but recently I took the time and trouble to change out the saw to a dado set for a photo shoot. Guess what? I liked it better, even with the extra hassle.

Likewise, I've always preferred the look of pigment stain in open-grained wood. I'd used dye before, but generally restricted its use for tasks like getting sapwood to match heartwood in workpieces. However, encouraged by my recent experience with shellac, I decided to use some dye stain for a project. The results came out OK, I guess, but I think I still prefer pigment-based stains for general use.

In one case – with the dado set on the table saw – I learned that something I'd been avoiding because I'd convinced myself it was a hassle was actually a better way to go. In the other – using a dye stain – I reconfirmed why I prefer the results I get with a pigment stain.

So for one I learned a "new" way of doing things I like better; for the other I reaffirmed that tried-and-true was the best way for me to go. Both of these are Very Good Things.

But the point is that if I hadn't decided to try some different ways of working, I wouldn't have learned what I did, and never would have expanded my capabilities as a woodworker.

Till next time,


Related Articles

Something else I never knew

In spite of the fact that I think I know everything, clearly, there’s a lot out there I’m clueless about.


Something old, something new for a woodworker to explore

My world is upside down. I’ve got a well-made piece of furniture in my shop and the local hardware store has changed ownership.

New skillset

It’s amazing how you can go decades without doing something, and then suddenly find yourself doing it all the time.

A new appreciation

It took cutting my wife’s hair to get a whole new appreciation for the tools of other people’s professions.

New year, new list

It’s a new year, but no new resolutions. Instead, I’m just digging out last year’s and dusting it off, and when I do I’m gonna …