Quick and fuzzy

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I take shortcuts all the time that violate “good” woodworking practices. Why? They make me a more efficient woodworker.

I’m not talking about anything that compromises my safety – when it comes to safety efficiency takes a backseat with double-checks and procedures that slow me down. And as far as I’m concerned, they’re totally worth it. Likewise, some of the things I do that compromise good woodworking practices might make you cringe but, again, they’re totally worth it and improve the way I work.

A perfect example is how I start the finishing process. First, understand that I don’t do spray finishing, which means brushing or wiping on a finish. I detest spraying so I’m perfectly fine with this.

As any of you will likely attest, you get the best final finish with the best brushes – use junk brushes and that’s exactly what it’ll look like. But notice the key words there: final finish.

For the first coat of finish I always use a cheap, disposable junk brush. They’re usually called “chip brushes” or something like that, and they’re possibly the worst brushes ever. Although made of natural bristles, those bristles shed by the handful as you use them. Quick and dirty, but I don’t care.

Since I’ll be sanding that first coat anyway, stray bristles in the first coat are irrelevant. And since I don’t have to worry about taking care of an expensive good brush, I can slather the finish on without prepping the brush first and then just toss it when done. It’s a big time saver.

For subsequent coats – the ones I want to look perfect – I use a proper brush and follow all regular “good” woodworking practices. But you can bet I always have a steady supply of cheap brushes.

A.J.

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