Bob Flexner's - Understanding Wood Finish (Rating: 5)

Please note: This is for the 1994 edition of the book.

I recently got this book and have now read it cover to cover. This is a fantastic book. I learned more from this book than everything else I've read on finishing.

The book covers pretty much all of the finishes you'd be putting on wood. Varnish, shellac, lacquer, oil, etc. The book isn't so much a how to manual about how to apply the finishes (though there is enough of that). It's more of a primer on the finishes and how they work. For example, water isn't actually the solvent in water borne finishes. Glycol ether is. Water is the thinner.

He also has a chapter on pore filling as well as rubbing out finishes. There is also a short section on how to finish different common woods that often present a problem.

One thing I liked about this book is that Flexner takes a scientific, fact based approach to finishing. He debunks many common finishing myths, which is very helpful. For instance: Wax doesn't protect wood against water and stains. What it does is make the surface more slippery and therefore slightly less prone to physical wear.

If I had to pick one book I'd use as my finishing bible, this is it. It doesn't answer every and all questions but it comes close. I intend to use this as a baseline reference for finishing from now on.

This review is for the 1994 edition of the book. I'm getting the latest edition from the library and will update this review with any differences I find between the two versions.

Highly recommended.