Before and After; What and How

Crib Finish

A question in the last issue about which finishes are safe for cribs sparked this reminiscence from a reader. – Editor 

“Many moons ago, I refinished a crib for a customer. She asked if the finish was child-safe, seeing as how teething babies will gnaw on crib rails. Being conscientious, I called the lab at the coatings company. The chemist was from India or Pakistan, and I’m not sure he really understood why I was asking, but his answer was ‘Feed baby.’

‘What?’ I asked. ‘Did you say feed baby?’

‘Yes, feed baby. Not get hungry and eat crib,’ he replied.” – Steve Austin

Before or After

A thread on Web Surfer’s Review asked whether it was better to finish before or after assembly, and several opinions were offered. Here are a couple more. – Editor

“I have been building furniture for 44 years and have always finished the pieces before assembly, using masking tape to protect the gluing surfaces as Marc suggested. All my finishes are sprayed lacquer. It is much easier to spray pieces set horizontally rather than vertically. This method also insures that no unfinished areas will result from wood shrinkage.” – Salvatore Pontecorvo

“I spent the last year building Arts and Crafts furniture for our house with lots of mortise and tenon joints to deal with. I have found that staining before assembly is critical. I just tape off the joints to keep stain off of parts that will later need glue. It has saved me endless frustration with trying to clean glue off the wood so I can make the stain even. As far as finishing goes, large pieces like bookcases or tabletops are definitely better prefinished, but I have found that on pieces like chairs, putting the finish on at the end makes the chair look like one finished piece rather than a collection of finished parts.” – Chris Knitig

Gluing UHMW Plastic to Wood

In the last issue, several suggestions were offered for gluing ultra high molecular weight polyethylene to wood, but this letter sounds a warning. – Editor 

“There is no satisfactory way to glue larger, heavy pieces of UHMW plastic to wood if the finished article undergoes any significant temperature changes. Every UHMW plastic I’m familiar with has a much greater thermal expansion coefficient than wood, and the stresses set up will shear the joint. I’d recommend a mechanical fastening system to allow for the differential in expansion coefficients.” – Ron Orr

For those considering bonding UHMW to wood, bear in mind that most indoor applications do not go through wide ranges in temperature, and that some adhesives, even after they are set, are somewhat flexible, allowing movement without destroying the bond. – Editor

Pressure Treated Wood Warning

An answer to a question on pressure treated wood explained that the chemicals used have recently changed. Three readers sounded warnings about reactions between some metals and the higher copper content in pressure treatment chemicals now being employed. – Editor

“The response to the question about treated wood could generate a longer article on the stuff. I am already aware of a story about a two-and-a-half-year-old deck collapsing because the screws used to put it together had corroded in the presence of the high copper content the wood was treated with. We now use strictly stainless steel.” – Rod Price

“Doesn’t one (or both) of the new pressure treatment chemicals rust regular nails and screws very quickly? Seems as though I had to buy hot-dipped zinc or ceramic coated fasteners on my last pressure treated project.” – Jack N. Donato

“What is missing, in my humble opinion, is the caution not to use the same old joist hangers that were used with the old material. They will eventually be weakened by the interaction of the wood chemicals and galvanized hangers. People need to be reminded to buy the new variety of hangers and other metal hardware that will be in direct contact with the newer woods to prevent eventual failure and possible injury caused by a deck collapsing.” – Vic Hamburger

MDF Ends

“I would like to add my two cents’ worth in regarding finishing MDA routed edges. I have been using Zinsser’s oil-based stain blocker and primer with excellent results. The product dries within 30 minutes and sands like lacquer, leaving a glass-smooth finish. Both brush-on and spray are excellent products. This product can even be used over melamine without sanding. Hope this helps.” – Alfred Spitzer, Jr.

It does, and thanks. For those not familiar with it, the product is called Zinsser Cover Stain. – Editor

“Here on the other side of the pond, we seal the edges of MDF with either wallpaper paste, or pva let down with some water. Both methods give a great clean surface you can finish or paint over.” – Bill Yeomans, Leicester, England

Empty Bowls

A few issues back, we talked about an event called Empty Bowls that takes place in cities all over the country. While it started with selling donated ceramic bowls to raise money to feed the hungry, some wooden bowls started creeping in, and we alerted our turning readers to this potential avenue of charity for woodworkers. Here in my own backyard, Empty Bowls was held on October 16th in Tacoma, Washington, and I watched in amazement as 127 wood bowls turned by members of three local woodworking and turning guilds were the very first things to be sold. They were snatched up in the first seven minutes of the two-hour event, which is quite a testimonial to how much people love wooden items. The organizers sent us this letter. – Michael Dresdner

“Our October 16, 2005, Empty Bowls event was once again a resounding success. This year, more than ever before, we depended upon you, our volunteers and you came through with flying colors. Empty Bowls is only possible through the generous support of each of you, our volunteers and participants, and we THANK YOU for all that you do. Without your time, talent and support, this event would not be feasible: your generosity is the very backbone of Empty Bowls.

We had more than 1300 glass, wooden and pottery bowls: donated by artists throughout the Northwest, and preliminary figures show that we made more than $11,000 at Sunday’s event! What a marvelous way to help the hungry and give back to our community.

Michael, thank you so much for passing the word of Empty Bowls along to other wood turners in this area. You and every wood turner who donated bowls are a big reason why this year’s Empty Bowls event was so successful! We know the wooden bowls were the hit of the event as all the wooden bowls were sold in less than seven minutes – that has to be a new record!

Gratefully,
– David Ottey, Director Ginny Eberhardt, Volunteer
Emergency Food Network Event Coordinator”

Typo Corner

Once again, we made it into our own typo corner by printing ‘test’ instead of ‘rest.’ – Editor 

Q: Do you have any knowledge of DIY plans to make a steady test for a tubular bed for a woodturning lathe?

As several readers pointed out, it was a true test of our proofreading, and we won’t rest until we eradicate such errors. – Editor

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