Posts Tagged ‘Finishing’

Worn, with Pride

May 8th, 2012 by
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One of the most popular finishes these days is the so-called “shabby chic,” a modern term for what we used to call antique finish. Why would you want to take new furniture and intentionally make it look old? Strange though it may seem, there’s actually a very good reason.

Let’s say you have a spot where an antique would be just the ticket, but not just any antique. You want a certain style of furniture, in just the right color, with the perfect amount and type of wear; not too much, and only worn in the right places. You’d want a piece still in great structural condition that looks as though it was painted years ago, then was gently but regularly used. In other words, something that looks timeworn, but not bereft.

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Memories of George

May 1st, 2012 by
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I was reorganizing some paperwork the other day, when I ran across a file that contained letters, manuscripts and notes from master wood finisher George Frank. I worked with George when I was an editor at Fine Woodworking magazine. I was originally assigned to work with George because he and I were both Hungarians and so could converse in our native tongue. Over the years, George became not only a treasured colleague of mine, but I also kind of became his adoped grandson; he had no male children of his own. George passed away nearly 15 years ago, at the ripe old age of 94.

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Stain Without Pain

March 23rd, 2012 by
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pigmentIn September, I wrote that, while stain is often superfluous, especially on prime woods, it can be a lifesaver on plain or uneven woods. At the time, I promised I’d revisit the topic and offer a few tips on how to stain without making wood look muddy, fake, or painted. Well, today’s the day.

First, some basics. Stains can be colored with pigment, which is ground-up colored dirt, or with dye, which dissolves. Pigments are relatively large particles suspended in liquid, but dyes dissolve, becoming vastly smaller particles the size of a molecule. Here, size matters.

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Magic in a Can

March 13th, 2012 by
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paste waxWhat should I use on my wood furniture? It’s a question I frequently get just after someone hears an ad promoting some spray polish that “works like magic.” Here’s the sad truth: if it is ridiculously easy to use, it’s probably not what you expect. Life’s just like that.

The Treadmill

The problem with most spray furniture polishes is not that they are harmful to furniture finishes (they’re not), or that they don’t work (they do), but rather that they put you on a treadmill. No, not the kind your spouse has been trying to get you on since your weight began to inexplicably inch upward. The metaphorical kind.

Here’s how it works. Many furniture polishes add sheen or luster by coating the finish with an ultra-thin layer of some oily compound. It looks nice and shiny for a while, but the oily film soon attracts, and holds, airborne dust. Before long, it looks dusty again and cries out for more polish.

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Share the Experience

November 21st, 2011 by
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For the most part, woodworking has been a solitary activity for me. Over the years, I’ve taught myself most of what I know. I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way — and either cursed or laughed about them without any witnesses or commiserators. At the same time, by going it “solo” so much of the time, I haven’t really shared the successes and breakthroughs that also happen as we gain experience. It’s been a pretty quiet life in the shop.

Then the other day a new friend of mine asked me to do a small commissioned piece for him. He’s a pipe smoker and wanted a pipe rack he’d seen online. These racks are made by hand in Europe, and while he was more than willing to pay several hundred dollars for it, his long-distance queries to order one of them had gone unanswered. That’s where I came in.

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Rust-Oleum Gives Woodworker’s Journal Sneak Peek

November 14th, 2011 by
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Group Shot from Rust-Oleum VisitIf you’re one of those dyed-in-the-wool loyalists when it comes to the types and brands of finish you use, it might seem like there’s not much new that could (or should) be put into a can these days.

But if it seems like there isn’t much new “under the sun” when it comes to stain and varnish, sometimes all it takes is a new player in the market with some fresh ideas.

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Finishing Wizardry

October 31st, 2011 by
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Accent TableIn a recent conversation with our field editor Chris Marshall about project I’m working on that involves walnut (which I’ll discuss in an upcoming post), he told me a story about a unique finishing situation that he ran into.  I thought it would be a great thing to share…
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Luminol Illumination: Furniture with an Eerie Blue Glow

October 14th, 2011 by
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luminolI got an interesting call about a finish problem the other day from a dear friend who is an expert antique restorer, among his many other talents. It was a bit grisly, but nonetheless an interesting poser. I thought I’d share it with you.

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To Stain or Not to Stain…

September 14th, 2011 by
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That’s been the question since woodworkers darkened oak by burying it in a pile of dung and urine. We have more pleasant choices these days. Stain and dye formulations have been made from ground earth, colored clays, acids, bases, plant extracts, coffee, tea, fruits, berries and, these days, from sophisticated synthesized colorants.

That means we can stain wood whatever color we like. Or not. Admittedly, there are plenty of times I favor leaving wood au naturel. However, there are also times when stain can do a world of good, and make my work greener to boot.

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Oh, Pshaw! You Make Me Blush

August 10th, 2011 by
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Whenever I have to spray fast-drying lacquer in the summer, I gird myself for blush. I’m sure you’ve encountered blush. It’s that whitish haze that looks like thin clouds trapped in the finish, and usually shows up when spraying during humid weather.

When things are going well, shellac and lacquer both dry very quickly because they cure strictly by having their solvent evaporate, and because very fast evaporating solvents are used in them. Normally, of course, that’s wonderful; I can spray quickly and have the piece dry quickly, a boon for those of us with less time than ambition.

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