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  • The Way Wood Works: Birch

    by American Woodworker Editors     Thursday, July 12, 2012
    The Way Wood Works: Birch This affordable wood is great for both high-end and utilitarian cabinetry. By Tim Johnson Birch is a hot item at the lumberyard these days, and birch veneer is the all-time most popular hardwood plywood.This isn’t a fad...
  • AW Extra 2/14/13 - Tips for Finishing Walnut

    by American Woodworker Editors     Monday, June 6, 2011
    Tips for Finishing Walnut There's no denying that most walnut looks great with nothing more than a few coats of oil. Here we’ll show you some tricks to make your walnut projects look even better. by Jeff Gorton Make Sapwood Disappear Even select...
  • AW Extra 12/27/12 - 12 Finishing Tips

    by American Woodworker Editors     Wednesday, August 26, 2009
    12 Finishing Tips Good finishers have lots of tricks up their sleeves. Here’s a handful from Bob Flexner, one of the nation’s foremost experts. By Bob Flexner 1. Add depth by glazing Glazing accentuates the three-dimensional look of moldings...
  • Q & A: Is Polyurethane Food-Safe?

    by American Woodworker Editors     Tuesday, November 5, 2013
    Is Polyurethane Food-Safe? Q: I’m planning on finishing a set of wooden plates with polyurethane. Is this finish safe for food? A: According to finishing expert Bob Flexner, all finishes are food-safe once they have cured. Polyurethane varnish does...
  • Q & A: Why Does My Wood Have Stripes?

    by American Woodworker Editors     Tuesday, November 12, 2013
    Why Does My Wood Have Stripes? Q: I put a clear finish on a beautiful ash table I made and found faint stripes an inch or two wide going across each board. Any ideas on what caused them and how to get rid of them? A: Those stripes probably won’t...
  • Q & A: Final Rubout

    by American Woodworker Editors     Tuesday, January 15, 2013
    Q & A: Final Rubout Q: I always have problems getting a smooth finish. I sand the wood with 220 paper,wipe it with a tack cloth, apply three coats of high-quality varnish, and still get a rough surface! What can I do to get that “professional”...
  • Finish on Tap

    by American Woodworker Editors     Tuesday, October 20, 2009
    I buy varnish by the gallon because it’s more economical, but after a few uses, the rim fills with gunk and the finish begins to skin over inside the can. As a result, I usually have to throw the can away before it’s empty. I solved this problem...
  • Q & A: Matching Old Stains

    by American Woodworker Editors     Friday, October 5, 2012
    Q & A: Matching Old Stains Q: I have to match an old stain. I’ve come pretty close with a new stain I bought at the hardware store, but it’s not good enough. Is there a way I can tint the stain? A: There are several fairly simple ways...
  • AW Extra 11/22/12 - Flexible Spray Gun Pickup Tube

    by AW-Editor     Monday, September 1, 2008
    Flexible Spray Gun Pickup Tube My HVLP spray gun came equipped with a standard metal fluid-pickup tube. It works fine until I tip my gun to get inside a cabinet. Then the gun sputters and spits because the pickup tube is no longer in the finish. I mentioned...
  • Thick-Skinned varnish

    by Tim Johnson     Wednesday, February 25, 2009
    One thing you can count on when you save a half-used can of varnish is that the contents will be skinned-over the next time you open the can. When this happens, don't gnash your teeth; the varnish underneath the skin should be just fine. Before you...
  • AW Extra 3/20/14 - Spray Booth for Waterborne Finishes

    by American Woodworker Editors     Tuesday, March 18, 2014
    Spray Booth for Waterborne Finishes Fifty bucks and a few hours is all it takes to put together this finishing booth. It keeps overspray off my tools and dust off my projects. Since I use waterborne finishes, I’m able to use a regular box fan in...
  • Tidy Stripping

    by AW-Editor     Thursday, January 29, 2009
    When stripping a chair or table, place each leg in a coffee can. Any excess stripper drips right in, and when you take off the finish, you can simply push your scraper down the length of the leg. This also works when applying runny stains.
  • Freshness Date for Finish

    by American Woodworker Editors     Tuesday, September 15, 2009
    I never thought about the risks of using finish from an old, previously opened can until I had to entirely strip a project because the ancient varnish I used didn’t dry properly. Now I play it safe. I date every can when I first open it, so I know...
  • AW Extra 8/8/13 - Foam Finishing Stand-Offs

    by American Woodworker Editors     Monday, June 3, 2013
    Foam Finishing Stand-Offs To make a quick and easy drying rack, or to raise a project off your bench while applying a finish, use blocks of rigid foam insulation and drywall screws. For stability, the screws should be no more than 1/2" longer than...
  • Q & A: Spray-On Crackle Finish

    by American Woodworker Editors     Tuesday, January 21, 2014
    Spray-On Crackle Finish Q: Is it possible to get a crackle finish in a pigmented, water-based lacquer that is applied with an HVLP spray gun? If so, please tell me how. A: Yes, it can be done. Put down a base color first (the color that will show through...