LumberJocks

Being frank about finishes

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by RussellAP posted 12-12-2012 03:13 PM 857 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2963 posts in 1009 days


12-12-2012 03:13 PM

One of my friends here on LJ is Charles Neil, he’s a pro finisher and I would trust him with any finish question I have and follow it to the letter. Lately I’ve come to understand that finishing is just as much an art as design.

We all know that no matter how well you build a piece, you can kill it with the wrong finish. And it’s one thing to be good with building things and quite another to be talented at finishing. You have to throw yourself AT the problem, not run away from it.

Finishing is the last thing you do to a piece, but it’s the first thing you should think about when planning a project.
It will affect your wood choice, your intended use choice, and even the design choices you make. Finishing isn’t that nasty necessary thing you do after you build something.

How many of you take finish into account before you even decide on the wood you buy for a project? Or do you wait till later and deal with the situation as it is?

I think we all have an ideal for the finish we like to use, like satin, or polished oil, or shellac. If you’re satisfied, I’d stick with it, but I’d also encourage you to try other things. Gel-Coats, Water based, Dyes. Did you know that some wood looks great blue?

So tell us about your finishing habit/rituals especially the tricks you’ve picked up along the way.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.


11 replies so far

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1526 posts in 1198 days


#1 posted 12-12-2012 03:19 PM

How many of you take finish into account before you even decide on the wood you buy for a project?

There is really nothing more to post as you stated all the reason. I start by choosing the finish I plan to use (shellac, poly, lacquer, etc.) Then choose the wood because of it’s appearance and how I am going to glue it together and then follow the design.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

5200 posts in 1299 days


#2 posted 12-12-2012 03:22 PM

One thing to consider is to finish the project after a dry glue up.

Tape off the areas that need glue, seal up and finish your project,
and then glue up your project.

Good thread Russell.

View Ripthorn's profile

Ripthorn

790 posts in 1708 days


#3 posted 12-12-2012 03:26 PM

For me wood choice and finish choice are pretty much simultaneous. I don’t think “I want to use this finish, so what wood will go nice with it?”, as I think that is as much a problem as choosing wood first and then finish later. It is the combination that I take into consideration. I mostly build guitars, so I have done the dyes, stains, ebonizing, etc. and agree that there’s nothing wrong with doing stuff like that. I like working with shellac, water-based lacquer, solvent lacquers, wipe on varnish, etc., but have recently found that I hate polycrylic (just had to sand it off of nine smaller pieces last night, ugh).

In short, I try to visualize the whole project before buying any materials. Finish is a very big part of it. My main goal is to make projects that just ask to be touched and that deliver when they are. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m very good at it :)

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2963 posts in 1009 days


#4 posted 12-12-2012 03:26 PM

Waho6o9, yes, thick and thin masking tape is a must.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1881 days


#5 posted 12-12-2012 03:27 PM

That’s always how you should start a project.

Once I realized this, and became really tired of being confused all the time about finishing, I bought every book on the subject and I setup a laboratory for experimentation. There are still some types of products that I lack experience with, but because I now understand what they are in theory, I have an insight into how those products will behave once I use them.

To me, that’s the key “trick”...become a student on finishing. Research it. Go to school.

The only other trick I can give is to make dewaxed shellac a part of your routine. It really is a universal product, whereas you can remove a lot of the compatibility issues and concerns you might have regarding finishing.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2963 posts in 1009 days


#6 posted 12-12-2012 03:32 PM

Jay, I have several packages of shellac. I may try it. My sign post out front had one coat and it’s holding up well.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

5200 posts in 1299 days


#7 posted 12-12-2012 03:41 PM

I’ve never used shellac, but from what I’ve read dewaxed shellac
is the way to go. I should try some.

French polish is another system that I like the results from, that
mirror like look totally rocks. It seems complicated at first, but I think
once you get in down it will be easy.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2847 posts in 971 days


#8 posted 12-12-2012 03:49 PM

I finish my pieces before I start. Unlike a lot of people, finishing is my favorite part of the project. I do start off with a wood species though; not a finish. After I have lumber rough dimensioned I do cut off a few pretty nice looking sections to test finish on. I don’t just do a quick test. I will finish the scraps as I were finishing the piece – multiple coats with sanding in between, if I am using oil/stain under the finish, blotch controllers, waxes, etc.

I also pre-finish my work. The results are SO much better. I tape off the areas that will get glue. Glue won’t stick to finish so it cleans up really easy and you don’t have to worry about contamination or extra sanding. Once the piece is assembled, I will apply a final coat of finish, buff it out and wax it (if I am doing so)

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1881 days


#9 posted 12-12-2012 03:51 PM

If those packages are flakes, Russell, you’ll want to let them settle after you mix them. This will let the wax drop to the bottom and you can separate it out.

There are certainly applications for waxed shellac as a film finish, but I’m talking about using dewaxed shellac (I like Zinsser Sealcoat in the can) as a bridge between oils/stains and film finishes. I even use the stuff to deliver color (as a toner) by using TransTint dyes with the shellac. I like the control it gives by sneaking up on result. This is especially useful when trying to color diverse woods to make the finish more uniform, which is something you can’t do just by staining the raw wood.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View Henry6's profile

Henry6

36 posts in 749 days


#10 posted 03-12-2013 08:39 AM

My favorite part about finishes is that each type of wood can be transformed in many different ways based on which finish you choose. I remember doing my deck a few months back, and my wife and I were stuck deciding between a transparent or semi-transparent finish from Storm System. Unlike paint, it was easy to see how both looked before deciding.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

15135 posts in 1061 days


#11 posted 03-12-2013 01:19 PM

I am now doing different finishes. Learning more as I go.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase