wood finishing

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Forum topic by agallant posted 03-22-2011 04:24 PM 1097 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View agallant's profile


551 posts in 2910 days

03-22-2011 04:24 PM

Can you share your wood finishing tips and tricks with me. I see some people on here with finishes on their peaces that are absolutely beautiful. They are glossy and have a depth to them that i am not able to achieve on my own.


5 replies so far

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3182 days

#1 posted 03-22-2011 04:44 PM

The single most important finishing tip that I learned intuitively was to get away from stains. I thought everything was supposed to be stained…something I observed from my father.

Now, if I need to color something wood, I now dye it or tone it, as opposed to soaking the wood in stain. In combination with a good wash-coat of shellac and/or glue sizing (mostly on end-grain areas), I can get a very uniform, gloriously grained, and properly colored piece ready for my choice in top-coat.

The second most important lesson was to do away with nails…again, something my father always did. Carpenters nail stuff…furniture-makes glue stuff. Certainly, my nail guns come in handy in unexposed areas, but if I can avoid putty…I will. Where I need to fix flaws, I’ll just sand in some CA glue.

Thirdly, do test pieces for your project with the wood being used. For example, in doing cabinetry that has a mix of oak hardwood and oak plywood, I will simiulate a small section of the trim (hardwood) and the panel (plywood) for my tests. The helps me to know if I get too much absorption in certain areas. A “test board” sometimes doesn’t tell the whole story.

Lastly, get Bob Flexner’s book on Finishing. After reading it, you’ll slap yourself in the head when you realize how common-sense everything really is.

BTW…I’m not ragging on my dad. It’s a lot easier to learn the “right way” in this Internet age. My dad did the best he could with what he had.

-- jay,

View skippyland's profile


158 posts in 2715 days

#2 posted 03-22-2011 05:02 PM

I absolutely agree with Jay on everything and would add patience…patience to the process. Every time that I would rush the job a “push thru” the final sanding, or hurry the several coats of finishing oil, I will regret it!! ALWAYS 24 hours between coats (of oil) with a wipe down. Patience and a deliberate procedure always pay off! Good luck.

-- Skip from Batavia, purveyor of fine and exotic sawdust & chips.

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3600 days

#3 posted 03-22-2011 05:15 PM

If you want the full scoop on finishing get a copy of Charles Neils Finishing “A-Z beyond the books ” it covers anything and every thing about finishing .
He also sells individualize DVDs on finishing .

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View DLCW's profile


530 posts in 2678 days

#4 posted 03-22-2011 07:09 PM

Sanding, sanding, scraping, sanding. Material preparation is the most important part of finishing. If your wood is not properly smoothed and cleaned, your finishing mileage will vary.

I’ve also gotten completely away from tack cloths. I’ve had many finishes ruined because of the residue that tack cloths can leave behind. I use a combination of vacuum and compressed air to clean before finishing.

Read books on finishing. Bob Flexner has some good information out there, not only on finish makeup and compatibility issues but also how to finish. Everything from brushing to french polish to spraying. He covers it well.

And like Skip says – patience!

-- Don, Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks - - "If you make something idiot proof, all they do is make a better idiot"

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 2977 days

#5 posted 03-22-2011 07:24 PM

I second the reading of Bob Flexner’s books, and Michael Dresdner’s book as well. To develop any kind of confidence in finishing one needs to get past the anecdotal advice (which can get you into all kinds of mischief, because people can believe the weirdest things about finishing wood) and on to understanding how the various finishes work. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not “obvious” either. Finishing a project is every bit as important as building it. Great finishes require some knowledge. You will never regret the cost of the books.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

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