From Stephen Shepherd, the definitive book on tradtional finishes

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Review by Gary Roberts posted 09-09-2011 04:10 AM 4197 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
From Stephen Shepherd, the definitive book on tradtional finishes From Stephen Shepherd, the definitive book on tradtional finishes No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Full disclosure: Although we have never met face to face, I consider Stephen to be a friend. Even though he lives in Utah. Which is not to say that living in Utah is a bad thing, it’s just to say that living in Utah is more than a 30 minute drive from Boston.

Underneath the anachronistic re-enactor exterior by which Stephen leads his life is a razor sharp intellect and one of the most information packed minds I know. I won’t expose his professional background to public view. I will say that he has more practical and professional experience in traditional hand tool techniques, furniture and the history thereof than many of the pundits who profess to an expertise therein.

The author of numerous books on the subjects of traditional woodworking, Stephen has recently published a new title covering, you guessed it, Shellac, Linseed Oil & Paint. The cumulative myths surrounding these three finishes exceeds the truths of their history, chemistry, application and misuse. Stephen has distilled the facts concerning all three finishes into 160 pages (8.5×11, color, black & white photos and line illustrations) of solid information. Reading this book will leave you with a solid understanding of when and when not to turn to each as the finishing element of your next project.


Chapter 1: Surface preparation
Chapter 2: Shellac
Chapter 3: Linseed Oil
Chapter 4: Paint
Chapter 5: Painting & Graining

Oh, and the forward was written by Jonathan Fairbanks, Curator Emeritus at The Museum Of Find Arts, Boston and Fellow, the American Crafts Council.

I have a particular fondness for the section on Milk Paint, one of the most misused and misunderstood finishes extent. Also the section on Linseed Oil. Include in that the section on Shellac. You can see where I’m going with this. Back in the day, books of Receipts (recipes for finishes, adhesives, etc.) were the means by which craftspeople learned of the how’s and why’s of that which they needed to know. No internet, no eBooks meant paper was the medium of communication.

Shellac, Linseed Oil & Paint is the Receipt book we have been waiting for, even if some of the ‘we’ didn’t know it. True, finishing often strikes fear and trepidation into the hearts of many woodworkers. Read This Book and your fears will be settled. No fuss, no bother, no hype, just plain words arrayed in a pleasing style that masks the extent of the information held within.

Available from The Full Chisel website, Tools For Working Wood and soon from Lee Valley.

The Full Chisel storefront is under development, but an email to Stephen will suffice for a personally dedicated copy. Check the site for the specifics.

Shellac, Linseed Oil & Paint
Stephen Shepherd
The Full Chisel Blog & Store

Gary Roberts

-- Gary Roberts,

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Gary Roberts

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5 comments so far

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#1 posted 09-09-2011 05:54 AM

Thanks for the info. Sounds like a book I should definitely own.

View Gary Roberts's profile

Gary Roberts

140 posts in 3822 days

#2 posted 09-09-2011 07:11 AM

Tell Stephen I sent you. That way, he’ll owe me one.

-- Gary Roberts,

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19330 posts in 4476 days

#3 posted 09-09-2011 09:35 AM

Sounds like it might be interesting. No price on the website, just an address to send a check. Think a blank one will do? ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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Gary Roberts

140 posts in 3822 days

#4 posted 09-09-2011 05:08 PM

Stephen tells me the book is now available at Lee Valley Tools. The Paypal function is in development, a nice way to say that setting up a Paypal store is a pain. But getting there.

Send the blank check to me and I’ll take care of it.


-- Gary Roberts,

View Ian W's profile

Ian W

18 posts in 3402 days

#5 posted 09-09-2011 09:56 PM

I’ve read the book. It is outstanding.

-- any time in the wood shop is GOOD TIME

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