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Finishing #3: Reference Books

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Blog entry by OSU55 posted 05-29-2019 04:46 PM 1230 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: BLO, Danish Oil, Tung Oil, Poly Part 3 of Finishing series no next part

I consider the finish 50% of a project. I continually read/hear woodworkers who are disappointed in the finished look or who are afraid to try color (dye/stain) on a project. Finishing is a learned skill, just like operating various power tools, using hand tools, making/fitting various joint types, proper design, material selection. etc.

As such, time and effort need to be expended to gain the knowledge and physical skills to impart a beautiful finish to a project. What if you spent as much time developing finishing capability as you did the other skills used to build your projects?

It all starts with education to gain knowledge, then putting that newly gained knowledge into practice by applying it, i.e. trying lots of methods on lots of different woods. Do this on scrap. Frankly, don’t even build a project until you have decided on the finish, because the finish process may need you to alter the design to make finishing easier and result in a better finished product. Finishing knowledge also helps to put all those “old wive’s tales” about various finishes and methods where they belong, out of your mind.

The books listed below are the best books I am aware of to gain knowledge and actually understand wood finishing. Others may have specific recipes, historical information/reproduction methods etc., but don’t provide the level of knowledge these books do. With knowledge and practice you develop the skills to develop your own recipes for an application. While these books are somewhat dated, they still provide the basic knowledge necessary and cover water based technology. For newer products, specific product information can be obtained from manufacturers which will then guide you to the type of finish and where it fits as well as specific product application information, which you always want to check. Having both is best (they don’t necessarily agree 100%). For only one I would pick Flexner.

Understanding Wood Finishing / Bob Flexner / Pub: Reader’s Digest 2005
Great Wood Finishes / Auth: Jeff Jewitt / Pub: Taunton Press 2000



3 comments so far

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Redoak49

5242 posts in 3070 days


#1 posted 05-29-2019 05:48 PM

I agree that it takes practice. The best thing to do is tryout various finishes and techniques on scrap wood to determine what works best.

It takes practice to improve ones technique and more practice.

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BB1

2136 posts in 1929 days


#2 posted 05-30-2019 03:39 PM

Thanks for the suggested resources. Finishing is definitely a area. I enjoy the building much more than finishing. Realize the importance of both when it comes to the end product.

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BB1

2136 posts in 1929 days


#3 posted 05-30-2019 03:41 PM

Thanks for the suggested resources. Finishing is definitely a weak area (have many weak areas yet as I learn more in this wonderful woodworking hobby!). I enjoy the building much more than finishing but realize the importance of both when it comes to the end product.

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