January 29, 2017

The Finishing Process

Well, I have a love/hate relationship with finishing.  I love the process of putting finish on a given project, but I hate the down time in my shop.  I’m a little envious of people who have a separate space to finish.  It would make less work in the end if you can have a separate space for it.  But when you don’t have that luxury, like most of us, we have to make do with our shops.  So here is how I deal with it in my shop.

I try to start finishing projects on Fridays afternoons.  Before I start finishing, I clean the shop, vacuum, clean all the surfaces and prepare not to use the shop for the next couple of days.  Then I run the air filter for an hour and then shut it off.  At that point, I wait for about an hour to let the remaining dust settle.  At that point, I’m ready to begin finishing.

I go through this process if I’m going to use a wipe on poly or shellac.  Wipe on poly is starting to be one of my “go to” finishes when I want a quick durable finish.  With a poly finish I can get the finish on and done in a day or two.  However, I have to shut down my shop as described above.  The finish can be done in different degrees of glossiness but it always gives the feel of a seal above the wood.  This piece is in the process of being finished with General Finishes’ Arm-R-Seal, a wipe on urethane.

But my favorite finish is Tried & True, an oil varnish. One of the big pluses for Tried & True is that I can put a coat on at the end of the day and still work the next day in the shop.  I have never had any problems with dust in the finish.  I also love the “close to the wood” look it gives it. It’s very easy to buff and repair the finish if a piece gets dinged.  It may surprise a first-time user when applying, since the oil varnish blend is thick and can feel like work when applying it. After you apply it, you then have to buff it off an hour later.  The major downside is a long drying time.  What takes a day or two with poly, will take me a week or more with Tried & True.

All in all, projects staying in my home will be probably be finished with Tried & True.  Projects going to a customer are more likely to use poly, since it’s more durable.

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