Wood Finishing Basics

Wood Finishing Basics

Wood finishing is one of the areas of woodworking that seems to confound many woodworkers.  It seems that there is always much trepidation after spending many hours in the woodshop making a beautiful piece of furniture that all of that work can be spoiled by a poor finishing job – and of course, it can!  Well, I guess we all either have to live with unfinished furniture pieces or we have to learn the proper ways to prep and finish our projects so that we can obtain the results we are looking for.

Michael Dresdner is a woodworker and wood finishing expert that has worked in many professional finishing shops and written about wood finishing for many woodworking publications over the years.  In this video, Michael aims to arm the viewer with the necessary information and techniques to: prepare a surface for finishing and to achieve professional results with one of several different types of finishes.  Although this video is a bit older now, the information presented is just as relevant today as it was when the video was first released.

Dresdner starts with a thorough treatise on surface preparation and sanding.  As Dresdner states – no finish will cover the sins of a poorly prepared surface – the steps to a flawless finish start with the proper and thorough surface prep.  In the video, Dresdner takes the viewer through the techniques of both power and hand sanding and discusses the properties of many of the sandpaper products on the market today.

With the surface prepared on several projects, Dresdner then shows techniques for three different hand-applied finishes: a wax finish, hand rubbed polyurethane varnish finish and shellac and wax finish.  Using everyday products and simple techniques the viewer is shown practical methods to obtain very acceptable finishes that will work well on many different types of woodworking projects.

Next, Dresdner visits Chris Minick, who shows how to brush on a flawless polyurethane varnish finish.  This segment discusses thinning the finish for better flow, various types of brushes and proper brushing technique.  The rapport between Dresdner and Minick in the segment is a bit corny however; the information that is relayed about brushing is both useful and complete.   Watching Dresdner and Minick brush the finish on a couple of nightstands shows just how easy a good quality brushed-on finish can be to obtain.

Finally, Dresdner covers the principles of spray finishing showing a home-made spray booth and several types of spray-finishing tools.  During this discussion he covers how to develop a methodology for spraying a complicated piece like a chair as well as adjusting tools for different spray patterns for optimal results. The spraying is followed by a thorough segment on how to clean spray equipment in order to keep it in top operating condition.

This video should provide any woodworker with the basic information necessary to understand surface preparation, the pros and cons of different finishes and different finishing methods.  Whether wiping on, brushing or spraying the basics of the techniques are all covered in this video.  With this info any woodworker will be armed with the skills and strategies to obtain professional quality finishes in a home workshop.