This month we are pleased to welcome a new contributor to our monthly newsletter. Bill Perry of William Perry Studios in Toronto, Canada. Bill Perry designs and builds fine custom furniture and Windsor chairs. When Bill told me he would write about goofs and using our artistic creativity to fix them, it brought back my piano finishing days. I remember goofs that I made, the feeling of panic that I had ruined someone’s piano and the immense feeling of relief that swept over me when I found a solution and it worked.
As summer comes to an end across the country, it seems like it is time to get back to the workshop, the saw table, and the planer. Why not start a project by thinking about the finish?
The best way is to learn from other people, so we suggest treating yourself to a book about finishing by Bob Flexner, or one of the terrific finishing DVDs produced by Glen Huey or Steve Shanesy. With their work and ideas for inspiration, you can try out some new techniques, consider a new coating, or work around any mistakes as you go along. A little knowledge is a very good thing! Happy reading and viewing.
Finishing is the process of transferring liquid out of its container and onto a project using a brush, rag or spray gun. Sounds simple, but doing so flawlessly can be easier said than done, as many of us discover.
Fortunately, fixing our errors isn’t overly complicated. Moreover, it’s often fun, as you get to stretch your artistic wings with some custom coloring and detailing. But it’s better to avoid problems in the first place – specifically those related to wood preparation – so let’s start there.
Many woodworkers believe that wood from the home center’s rack or fresh from their thickness planer is ready to have a finish applied. Sorry – it’s only ready to be handplaned or sanded. See for yourself: sight down a plank illuminated with a strong backlight. What you’ll see are rows of tiny ridges left by the planer’s blades. READ MORE
If you have a spray gun, you can use it to create an entirely different look on the wood than you get wiping or brushing the stain and wiping off the excess. Simply spray the stain and leave it; don’t wipe off the excess.
The key here is whether or not you wipe off the excess, not how you apply the stain. You could also spray the stain and wipe off the excess. But you can’t get an even coloring by wiping or brushing the stain and leaving the excess. You can’t help but leave more coloring in some areas than others. Only by spraying can you get an even coloring everywhere.
The trick is to thin the stain a good deal (say three-to-six parts) with the appropriate thinner and build the color slowly with several coats. You can spray the coats on top of each other while still damp, or you can wait until each coat of stain has dried before spraying the next.
If you try spraying just one coat of full-strength stain (rather than multiple coats of thinned stain), you’ll have great difficulty getting an even coloring. In fact, I feel comfortable saying that unless the object is small and flat, you won’t get an even coloring. You have to thin the stain and apply multiple coats.
You can see from the accompanying photographs the difference spraying and leaving makes. I used the same stain on both sides of both panels.
On the oak panel, I wiped off the excess stain on the left side, and I left the thinned, multi-coat sprayed stain unwiped on the right side. Not wiping off the excess stain caused the oak grain to almost disappear.
On the pine panel, I also wiped off the excess stain on the left side, and I left the thinned, multi-coat sprayed stain unwiped on the right side. Spraying and leaving reduces blotching to almost nothing, but it also muddies the contrasting spring- and summer-growth grain.
There is no right or wrong way. It depends on the look you want.
In wood finishing the term “pickling” is generally used to mean adding a white coloring to the wood. (“Liming” is sometimes used to mean the same thing.)
There are two broad methods of pickling. One is to wipe on and wipe off a white stain. The other involves sealing the wood with a first coat of finish, then wiping on and wiping off a stain. There is a big difference in the appearance you get.
In the sample shown, a white stain was applied directly to the lower half of the panel and wiped off. The same white stain was applied over a sealer coat on the top half of the panel and wiped off. The sealer coat prevented the stain from coloring the wood as thoroughly. The white coloring was left just in the pores when the excess stain was wiped off.
See how many words you can find. Look for words horizontally, vertically, diagonally, top down, or bottom up. You can print this page, including the puzzle, work offline, and then highlight words as you find them. The hidden message is: "We Learn By Our Mistakes"
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