Wood Finishing Videos

Restoring Antique Rocking Chair

Restoring antique furniture is not for the faint of heart !!!
If you are an avid watcher of the television show The Antiques Road Show or other similar shows, you will know that it is a BIG no, no to do any work, as in re-finishing, re-building or re-storing to old antiques. Apparently collectors would rather have antiques that are in what ever shape they are, good or bad and they do not want anyone to alter the original object. In the event an item is re-finished or re-built the value plummets like lead balloon ... and I can understand that. What I don't understand is when I see very nice old furniture that is in terrible shape, that no one will do anything with because it "might" de-value the piece of furniture. In many cases some lovely old furniture has come un-glued, pieces missing or just simply badly abused over the millenia and now it needs some work to put it back together and maybe even a re-finish job to make the piece as close to it's original shape as possible.

The truth is, there are hundreds of furniture restores all over the world who fix, repair and re-finish old and antique furniture every day. I believe these restores do a service by preserving these valuables by making them able to withstand the next 100 years. The question I had, was what to do with an antique rocking chair that I was commissioned to restore.

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Lacquer Finishes

Lacquer FinishesFor centuries, lacquer finishes have been used to give woodworking a long lasting, durable water-resistant finish. Lacquers are available in two styles: spray and brush-on, although they’re both among the fastest drying finishes. That said, brushing on a lacquer finish is more diligent and precise work and takes longer, but is also cleaner than spraying on finish.

What is Lacquer?

Lacquer tends often to be confused with shellac, which arises from shellac coming from the “lac” beetle. Lacquer, on the other hand, is derived from the resin of a varnish tree which is then harvested, distilled and combined with a lacquer thinner to create the common finish. Lacquer is also typically used with a variety of paints to deliver a strong, durable paint finish.

Today’s Lacquer

Lacquer today tends to contain another type of resin, nitrocellulose that combined with other ingredients, allows for a thin coat of lacquer to dissolve within an earlier coat which results in a hard, yet flexible finish. However, one disadvantage to the above is that nitrocellulose lacquer finishes have a high susceptibility to UV light.

Lacquer Application
As mentioned above, lacquer can be applied in one of two ways: sprayed on or brushed on. Spray-on finishes can be bought as aerosol spray cans or can be used with a pneumatic / airless sprayer. Though the former tends to be expensive, quality of finishes is also unbeatable, particularly for small projects. Also ensure that you work in a ventilated environment since solvents used in the lacquer are highly flammable and odours.

Brush-on lacquer finishes tend to dry quickly but not as fast as spray on lacquer. Start by using a bristle brush (preferably with high quality bristles) to apply the finish, but remember to work quickly by first adding a thin layer and not over brushing your work. Additional coats to even out the finish can be added in later.
One last thing: do NOT try to brush a spray-on application or vice versa, since spray-ons tend to dry faster.

Lacquer vs Polyurethane

An advantage to using lacquer finishes over polyurethane is that that for beginner woodworkers, they’re easier to apply, dry a lot faster and don’t need as many brush strokes for a complete finish. And though they may not be as long lasting as poly’s, they are a lot easier to reapply if and when anything happens. Additionally, lacquer finishes can also protect metals.

It is important to note, however that the two finishes don’t work well together; it is very much an either/or scenario.

Finishing Oak

 Working with Oak, for most woodworkers is a joy. Despite the fact that Oak is a heavy wood to work with, it produces such excellent finished results it is hard to avoid using it. One of the beauties of Oak is that it can contain visible “figure”, that is, areas where the grain runs a bit different than normal creating a pleasing pattern. These pleasing patterns can sometimes have their own problems when it comes to finishing.

One of the biggest problems we see with projects that are made from Oak is the miss-matching of grains. If you want to get a good finish on any wood project it is imperative that you try to match the grains as best you can. For example if you are creating table top or the side of a bureau, all the wood you use should be flat sawn, quarter sawn or rift sawn – NOT some of each. Each cut of wood absorbs stain differently which means, depending on the angle of light and the angle of view, the stained wood can appear uneven or mottled.

The second most frequent problem we see, is lack of finishing. Oak needs to be finished with very fine sandpaper like 280 or 320 grit in order for it to look nice when the final finishes are applied. The sanding process, particularly with finer grits will also create sawdust that will linger in the open-grain of the Oak. To remove this completely we recommend at the very least a tack cloth of mineral spirits, or to use your compressor and actually blow the dust out (this would have to be done out-or-doors for safety reasons). Only by getting all the sawdust out of the open pores of the Oak can you be assured of some success in your finishing.

Once you have “prepared the Oak” that is sanded with finely and removed the sawdust from the pores, now is the time to decide how you will finish your project. Do you want a natural clear finish, or do you want the oak stained a darker color, perhaps to match other projects? In terms of finishes you can select either water based or oil based finishes and stains. To compound things further coloring the wood can be done with either dyes or stains, and stains can contain filler or not (filler is used to fill the open pores of the oak to make a smoother finish).

Newer formulas for finishing oak suggest that wood dyes be applied and then over top of that, a “sealing” coat of de-waxed shellac (note, it MUST be de-waxed), and then on top of this a “glaze” is coated on the wood. A glaze is simply oil based stain and filler. What this process does in effect is work on the contrasts of the Oak and it's pores by making the pores stand out a bit more thus making the grain more visible. Then of course there needs to be a final finish of some sort of a oil based varnish or other similar top coat. The results from this process is indeed a lovely finish.

However you decide to finish your Oak project, there are 2 things to remember, 1) fine sanding is imperative to getting a fine finish and 2) always test your finish on another piece of wood BEFORE you give your project it's finish. There is far too much work in having to remove all the finish off a project that you are not happy with rather than testing before you begin ANY finishing on your project. We have seen far too many project with inferior finishing techniques that then disappointed the woodworker. Play it safe, take your time and know what to expect before you jump in and start the final finishing proeces.

Copyright - Colin Knecht

Krylon Spray Stain

" WOW … That's the best word I can use to describe the new spray-on stain from Krylon. When I first heard of this product I was a bit skeptical, after all how could someone actually put a stain in a spray can that wouldn't clog up the nozzle. Well, someone at Krylon figured out how to do it, and it works like a charm!
I am quite familiar with Krylon products, I have used a number of them and they are all excellent. This new spray-can stain is another excellent product. The reason a spray stain is so attractive is because there are a lot of projects that are difficult (and messy) to get at with typical paint brush or wipe on stains. This new product is not only a welcome addition, it is going to replace some old standbys in my shop.
I was truly amazed at how well the product sprays on, penetrates the wood and leaves a very even coating. The can says that you can spray the stain on and leave it or you can wipe some of it off to allow the wood grain to show through. We tried both methods and both worked, but being woodworkers at heart, the wipe off method colored the wood nicely and still left the grain showing through. The other bonus is that it dries very quickly which is handy if you are going to put another clear coat on top.

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The one thing that makes this product stand apart is the newly designed nozzle. When you first see it you can see that it is quite different looking that the traditional nozzles we have used for decades. This new nozzle works exceedingly well, the coverage is great and the contents are sprayed evenly, which is the whole purpose.

The Krylon products are widely available but not every hardware supply carries the product. If there was any kind of a down side (and frankly, we struggled very hard to find any kind of a problem) the product only comes in four shades at the moment. Having said that, they are among the most popular tones so this product will still give a very broad spectrum of color tones for most woodworkers.
We are very bullish on this product, it exceeded our expectations in terms of coating, color, evenness of tone and drying time. Remember, it is not necessarily the product for everything but it will surely do an excellent job on all of those hard to stain and complex projects … or, if all you need is a small job or some touch up work done. We loved this product.

Copyright - Colin Knecht