In the scheme of things, there are not many actual "tools" when it comes to finishing of wood projects. Sure there are paint brushes of various types and sizes and large selection of spray type tools and attachments but other than that, there is not a lot avalable. One of the challenges of so many of who use paint brushes to apply stains and final coats is trying to finish an entire project in one session. That often means having to finish all the sides that "show" without having to worry about the finish being marred. In most cases we have to do the finishing in 2 sessions, which contributes to making the finishing process long and tedious. Thankfully someone has addressed some of the finishing challenges that woodworkers encounter while finishing and have invented some products to help meet these challenges.
The first product is the Veraspin 360. Nothing particularly high tech about this unit, it is basically a plastic turn table that comes in 2 sizes, 11" and 16". True, it spins around in a 360 degree circle nicely, but the real benefit to the Veraspins' are the built in little "nubs" on the top surface. These little nubs are used to help hold 2 other products that attach on top of them to make a great finishing platform.
Finishing woodwork projects is the last step in a labor of love so it's critical that the finish show off the hard work, and the details of the wood . Add this to the fact that I have always tried to use products that are eco friendly and the list of finishing products starts to diminish signficantly. The only problem is that in many cases, the eco-friendly products I have tried have not given me anywhere near the kind of finish I wanted ... or expected ... until I discoverd OSMO.
If you have never heard of the word OSMO, don't be too alarmed. It is wood finishing product developed in Germany about 30 years ago. Sadly, it has taken many, many years to hit the North American markets. One of the biggest advantages of OSMO is that it is eco friendly, and that is because it is made primarily from natural, renewable sunflower oil and plant waxes. In many countries in Europe, with their very high population density, their laws and restrictions on finishing products is quite advanced. OSMO is often a preferred product as it is so safe that it is even approved as a finish for children's toys! Originally created as a floor finishing product, OSMO has since been adapted for use in other ways, but knowing that it is used as floor finishing material helps to understand just how durable this product can be.
For woodworkers, the benefits are numerous, The product will not chip, flake, blister or peel, it has an enormous coverage which means it is not expensive to use. Best of all, it is easy to apply and makes a great finish, AND if it is being used in situations where "finish wear" is a concern, OSMO can be re-finished over top of it'self with only moderate sanding or roughing of the area to be re-finished. It reall is a remarkable product. OSMO comes in both an interior and exterior grade. The main difference with the exterior grade is the addition of UV inhibiting charcteristics.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT to understand the OSMO is NOT applied to woodworking projects like many of the finishing products you may be accustomed to using. OSMO is NOT a product for the spray gun, nor is using it with most standard paint brushes recommended. OSMO must be applied with a very thin coat, which means it requires special application.
We were very lucky to know expert woodworker and finisher Phil Makin of Frameworks Services, who kindly took the time to explain OSMO to us and take us through the steps of finishing with OSMO. We wish to acknowledge Phil for his time and recommend him for your wood project requirements, sample of which are posted in the second part of this article.
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.
For 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.
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.