The final step of creating a woodworking project is putting some sort of finish on it. Sometimes the finish is a clear coat of some product, other times it is opaque like a paint. In either case there is usually some sort of mixing and and cleaning process that needs to be done and not all of are in love with the process and some (me) have often taken short cuts.

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I don’t often paint wood, but sometimes it is the only choice and if you do not mix paint fully, you can get streaking, patchy color and inconsistent texture, so mixing well is imperative. Mixing smaller quantities is easier but often we are mixing gallon pails or at least portions of them and all that paint needs to get mixed...

Wood finishing tips and tricks

Paint Mixing
One of the thing I discovered in my travels is that thrift stores, which have sprung up everywhere see to have an abnormally high volume of mix master beaters, and they come in a variety of sizes from small to large. They are usually very inexpensive so I picked up a couple of different sizes to accommodate different size cans of paint. I stick one or the other in my cordless drill (corded would work fine too) and now I have an instant paint mixing device that does a great job of moving the paint around and getting a good consistency mixed up.

One warning note... Mixing clear finishes, particularly petroleum based varnishes with this method is probably not a good idea. For those, slowly stirring with a wooden stick is still best as you do NOT want to mix in any air bubbles when you stir varnishes as they will often stick to the paint brush and then you wood project and do not “pop” until the finish starts to dry and by then they have left a tiny crater that makes the finish bumpy.

mixing with a beater

Brush Cleaning Ideas
Clean paint brushes is something that is easily put off to another time. There always seems to be something more important than cleaning brushes, like installing the painted work, or even just putting it some place to dry and harden. One way of fixing this is to put the still wet paint brushes in some sort of a container, with their cleaning or solvent liquid, where they can’t dry out so quickly so they can be attended to later on. One great way of doing this is using an old plastic dispensing container. You can put your solvent in the container and the handle of the brush can poke out the top and when you have cleaned the brush you can still save the fluid by sealing the top and using it again later on.

An a second version of this is to simply use a plastic glove to do the same thing. Put the handle in one of the fingers and the other should be able to seal the to of glass or tin can, thus sealing in your solvent for a few days until you can get back to do a proper cleaning job.

storing paint brushes

Sanding Disc Holder
I use a 5 inch random orbital sander a lot and I use mine outside most of the time to sand in a breeze-way I have to help reduce dust in my workshop. The problem is, I am always heading out the door with a handful of sanding discs which are often unsorted and reading the numbers on the back can be sketchy with poor printing, holes etc. The solution for this was provided by Gary Smith who offered that using a piece of waste wood, like 3/4” plywood, 6 inches square and inserting dowels in it to help keep the sanding disc aligned, is a great solution. Gary even has a small box to carry his around in, I think I will do that too.

Sanding disc storage

Tack Cloth Option
Getting the dust off before you paint of varnish or otherwise finish, is very important to getting a nice smooth clean finish. To do this we use something called tack cloth. Some people use just a barely damp cloth with water, some us like a rubbing alcohol to ensure the grain is does not rise and some use a dry cloth. Another option that works quite well is to us Swiffer cloth for the bottom of Swiffer floor dusters. These work very well and can be used over and over. When they get a bit dusty I mine outside and give it a few good shakes and the bulk of the dust flies off and it is ready to go again. They do eventually lose their effectiveness but in the mean time work great ...

Unruly Hinges
Installing hinges always seems a bit finickity to me. I place them were they need to be and one or the other, or both fall off before I can get a screw started in them. To solve this I have resorted to using clear, double sided tape. It’s cheap to buy doesn’t affect anything and holds the hinges nicely while I can attach them. They even line up better now.

installing wood hidges

Copyright Colin Knecht

DIY wood finishing hacks!


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