What 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 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.
Whether we like the process of finishing or not, no woodworking project is really complete without slathering on some protective finish. Years ago, I was a “poly” only kinda guy. Back in the 1980s, oil-based polyurethane is pretty what seemed to fill the hardware store shelf under the “Wood Finishes” sign. So, that’s what I used. It smelled bad and dried slowly, but once the finish finally hardened up, it was fairly tough. And I could count on its consistency and characteristics every time.
I’m glad to say that my finishing palate has expanded some since then. Continue reading
Last month, my family and I had the unique opportunity to travel to Kenya, Africa, for two weeks. My wife had professional reasons for being there, but I’ll admit that I went with the typical intentions of a Westerner—to see a world of new wildlife and experience Kenyan culture. I was richly rewarded on both of those accounts. Exotic wildlife is plentiful in the country’s many national parks. And, the Kenyans we met, both in cities and small villages, were warm, welcoming and very willing to share their lives with us.
Still, the curiosities of a woodworker don’t take a back seat, just because a guy spends a couple weeks out of the shop.