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For new woodworkers, and even some of the more seasoned ones, finishing their woodworking project can be agony. It certainly was for me for many, many years. It seemed no matter what can of varnish I purchased, the projects that I worked so hard to make them as perfect as I could, ended up looking like crap after the finishing was done. I always read the directions but never really had much success, in fact sometimes woodworking got very discouraging when I seemed to be able to predict that the end project would look like.
Then I met someone who began to give me some finishing tips and techniques. I started to realize that my impatience with the finishing step was part of my problem. I could make a furniture piece in a few days, then it would take a few more days just for the finishing. Waiting for anything to dry ... for me ... is pure agony, but as I started to see some real changes in my finished, I began to have much more patience.
He taught me a number of steps that I still use today, steps that help me not only in the build, but also in finishing. Here are the steps that I learned
#1 - Think about what you want your project to look like when it is done and what will it be used for. Knowing what I want my project to look like was a big step for me. Often I would pick a species of wood at random and build something with it, then think about what I was going finish it with.