There are many, many different options when it comes to putting a final finish on your woodworking project and to make sure that finish goes on the way you want, there are often some tips and tricks that we can learn along the way to help us do a quicker and better job, and when it comes to the topic of "finishing" many woodworkers (myself included) find the finishing process long and tedious, so anything we can do to help it along is a bonus ...

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Finishing Story or Sample Boards

A fancy name for noting more that selection of finishes on some boards that are all the same species so you can see what they look like and make your determinations from there in terms of color, type of finish and type of surface .. glossy, semi-gloss or matte.

Wood fishing sample boards

 Glue Scraper

One of the things I am guilty of doing is using plenty of glue on my projects. I have learned the hard way that too much glue is better than not enough, especially in areas like gluing boards together. If you don't use enough glue you can get voids ... where there happens to be no glue in a small area between the boards. Filling these little voids can be extremely time consuming and furstrating, so the best thing to do is to use enough glue that you get "squeeze out" of glue, then scrape off the excess when the glue has solidified ...

Glue Scrapers

... this is one place were a glue scraper is invaluable. The very sharp edge from an older (or even a new) utility knife blade will make quick work of getting that glue off and for ensuring the glue will not interfere with the final finish.

Acid Brushes

These little brushes are sold in packages of varying quantities. I usually try to get 20 or so in a pack and these will last me the better part of a year. I use thee brushes for many things, a quick easy glue spreader ... or to do some touch up finishing where I may have missed a small area the day ro so before, cleaning dust and grime from different projects, tools or machinery ... and more. 

Acid Brushes

Lifts of Lift Offs
I use these a lot in finishing. Basically I want to make sure whatever project I am finishing is not sitting the floor or a workbench when I am finishing it. In many cases there are often small bits of finish that will run down to the bottom of a leg. When this happens the finish can "puddle" slightly leaving a bulge of finish at the boot of a leg, gable end or ?? To solve this I will often try to lift the piece I am finishing so it is sitting above the floor or work bench. That way I can finish the piece and even if a small bit of finish is applied, it will most likely drip off the project and not puddle at the bottom.

 wood finishing Lifts of Lift Offs

Paint and Varnish Cleaning Utensil
Not many people enjoy cleaning paint brushes ... well certainly I don't, and the main reason is because of the whole finishing process, I can be very neat and clean until it comes to the cleaning of the brushes, then I always get splatters, which is why I should be wearing "painting clothes" (but don't). And That - is why this little hack is so valuable to me. I can mess around cleaning my nice (and somewhat expensive) paint brushes and and most of the splatters end up inside the container. What is even more useful is that when I am using paint thinner to clean brushes, I always save the used paint thinner and pour it into a glass jar, with a tight fitting lid. This on gallon plastic jug makes the perfect pouring utensil.  For those of you who don't save your used paint thinner, when you let the thinner sit for a number of weeks or even months, the most of the paint particles will settle to the bottom of the jar leaving you with some nice clear paint thinner that can easily be poured off and re-used. Great for the environment ... great for the pocket book

 Paint and Varnish Cleaning

Secure Storage and Long Term Keeping
The world of woodworking is amazingly simple, for example, how often have you opened a half can of paint, varnish of some other product and found that their is some thickness of a hardened cap on your paint of varnish, or if it has been sitting long enough, what's left in the can will harden all the way to the bottom. One of the main reasons for this is oxidation. Most of the finishes we use, dry and harden in the presence of oxygen. That's just the way they work. When you have half a can of something ... and the top half of the can is air, including oxygen, that oxygen is going to react with the top layer of the paint of varnish and start the drying process.

In many cases we can stop or slow down this drying process by doing 2 things, 1- insert another kind of gas into the top layer that drives the oxygen away (or at least most of it) and replaces that gas with another type of gas that will not react with the finish to oxidize and form a "skin" or even a hard layer on your paint or varnish, the second thing you can do is to put your finish into a smaller container with a good sealing lid. I like to use glass with plastic or rubber lined tops that form a very good seal between the inside and outside of the container. These are not guarantees that you will preserve your paint of varnish or other finish material, but it's always worth a try. I currently have about half a gallon pail of vanish that is 10 years old and still does not have a "skin" on it because every time I open and pour some out, I spray the inside of the can with some commercial canned air that replaces the oxygen and prevents the varnish from oxidizing.

 Storage of paints and finishes

Copyright - Colin Knecht

 Wood Finishing Hacks


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