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Expert's Corner

Wiping Off Excess Stain
The rule for applying stain successfully is to apply a wet coat and wipe off the excess before the stain dries. There’s no problem doing this with common oil-based wiping stains. They dry very slowly, so there’s plenty of time to get the excess wiped off before the stain dries. But water-based and lacquer stains [...]

Water Warps Wood Opposite From What You May Think
Water causes wood to swell, so most people think that wetting one side and not the other will cause the wetted side to bow – that is, increase in width so the center is higher than the edges. If the wood is thin enough, this will be the case initially. But the overall swelling or [...]

Remove Watermarks With Steel Wool
Watermarks can happen in all finishes after they have aged and become somewhat porous. The marks appear light gray to white and are almost always very superficial – that is, right at the surface of the finish. So one way to remove them that almost always works well is to abrade off the very top [...]

Finishes Differ in the Color They Impart
You might choose a finish for its durability, drying speed, ease of use or cost, but you might also choose for the color it imparts to the wood. The accompanying picture shows unfinished oak at the top left, then seven common finishes and their color. If you haven’t done this comparison side by side, you [...]

Applying Finish With or Across the Grain
It’s common to be instructed to apply a finish in the direction of the grain, called “with the grain.” Doing this is usually best when brushing a finish, but it’s rarely necessary when wiping or spraying a finish. Brushing with the grain is best because the grain will help disguise the brush marks, the ridges [...]

Solving a Sticky Problem: Tools and Tricks to Deal with Glue Squeezeout
If you’ve never had the experience of applying the first coat of finish to a project and having some of the finish fail to “take” because glue has sealed the wood grain underneath, go read something else.  What follows is intended for the vast majority of woodworkers who have encountered this problem. Most often this [...]

TIP: Spraying Lacquer Over a Paint or Finish
There are risks to spraying any type of solvent lacquer over any existing, and older, paint or finish. The problem is the lacquer thinner in the lacquer. A wet application can cause many paints and finishes to wrinkle or blister, even an old coat of lacquer itself. The two easiest ways to avoid problems are [...]

TIP: Refinishing and Value
Many people are confused about whether or not to refinish old furniture whose finish is in bad shape. They don’t really like living with the furniture, but they’ve heard (usually directly or indirectly from the Antiques Roadshow) that refinishing destroys value, and they surely don’t want to do that. A finish serves two purposes. It [...]

TIP: Naphtha for Cleaning
Naphtha, commonly sold as “V M & P Naphtha,” is better than mineral spirits (paint thinner) for cleaning oily and waxy surfaces, including crayon marks. Naphtha is a stronger solvent than mineral spirits but not so strong that it damages any finish other than wax as long as you don’t soak the surface. Naphtha also [...]

Judged the Best – Winners in Finishing from the San Diego County Fair
Each year, John Darroch, President and CEO of Apollo Sprayers and TheFinishingStore.com, judges the awards for the Excellence in Finishing at the prestigious Design in Wood (or @designinwood) show at the San Diego County Fair. Winners receive gift certificates from TheFinishingStore.com This combined competition and exhibit is a collaboration between the San Diego Fine Woodworkers [...]

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