Phooey to Finishing

Apparently I hit a nerve. When I asked what you thought of the task of finishing, I didn’t expect such a flood of opinions and observations. The results of my informal poll (see examples in Reader’s Response) cause me to opine that there are few folks on the finishing fence. You either love it or you hate it. (And those of us who love it are scarce, I’m afraid.)

The most common fear or complaint those of you on the other side of the fence expressed was that after you have demonstrated your woodworking skills by building, say, a cool bookcase or chair, if you screw up the finish – your workmanship goes for naught. The artistic comparisons go from Rembrandt to “Ren and Stimpy” in one errant stroke of a brush. In fact, many of you consider finishing an odious task separate and apart from woodworking. Penance for your profligate woodworking enjoyment. How sad!

I must confess little hope of resolving this age-old problem, but let me offer a suggestion. Knowledge and practice are the keys that will open the door to finishing success (if not enjoyment). Michael Dresdner’s Finishing Thoughts column in the Woodworker’s Journal print magazine is a regular dose of practical information on the topic of finishing. (For the full regiment, try his The New Wood Finishing Book, from Taunton Books.) Learn all you can, then start practicing on scrap wood … success will likely follow. And who knows, after a few oohs and ahhs’ regarding your newfound finishing skills, maybe you’ll hop to the side of the fence that loves finishing. We’re kind of lonely over here.

Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal

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