Shop Notes #2: Side by side finishes.

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Blog entry by vipond33 posted 08-08-2013 04:20 AM 3341 reads 2 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Pressure bar for sliding table saw. Part 2 of Shop Notes series Part 3: "No End In Sight" The documentary. »

Occasionally at our shop we have a need to build a project with dissimilar adjacent finishes. It may be only a different stain colour but at other times it’s a radical shift in the look (eg. paint vs clear-coat).



This has always been a problem in the past. It required ultra careful masking by our finisher and yet it still failed in small ways. The straight lines were not always perfect and the colours would often bleed under the edge by capillary action.
The only people that I have seen do this taping flawlessly on a routine basis are painters doing daily auto body work. Their stuff can be superb, though to be fair to ourselves, they are only dealing with airborne materials.

My technique may have been discovered by others but I’ll throw it out anyway. It’s a good trick.

To make this work you must have in your kit a wheel type marking gauge, such as the one sold by Veritas.

Mask off the break line with a good thick sticky tape (we like 3M’s 203) and roll it down. Set your sharp wheel gauge to the require depth and cut the line with a slight rolling motion, end to end. Remove the tape on the side to be finished first and do your worst.

What you have done in this process is created a very thin V groove at the break point and in addition, you have forced the adhesive tape down into that groove, providing a seal.

After the first finish side is complete, strip off and re-tape the joint, and with your preserved wheel setting, cut again, then finish the other side and remove the tape. You will be left with a microscopic, slightly tactile line of top-coat material that can be cut away cleanly with a dead sharp chisel or razor blade.
I have done this on curved work as well though it requires a small curved fence block double sided taped to the gauge and a rather steady hand.

-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

12 comments so far

View rance's profile


4282 posts in 4657 days

#1 posted 08-08-2013 04:27 AM

Looks like a good technique Gene. What do you mean by ”...and do your worst”. Also, could you show a finished piece with this method?

Have you tried laying down tape, then applying a clear coat to ‘seal’ the seam, thus preventing bleeding under the tape?

Thanks for sharing.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View shipwright's profile


8822 posts in 4295 days

#2 posted 08-08-2013 05:13 AM

Nothing speaks like real experience.
Thanks Gene.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5379 days

#3 posted 08-08-2013 11:18 AM

Neat. Makes sense to me.


Dang you guys do nice work.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View mafe's profile


13872 posts in 4586 days

#4 posted 08-08-2013 12:55 PM

That’s clever, thank you for the advice, I will try this.
I had plenty of bad experience with masking before. ;-)
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View DocSavage45's profile


9071 posts in 4339 days

#5 posted 08-08-2013 02:36 PM


-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View gbear's profile


545 posts in 5596 days

#6 posted 08-08-2013 02:41 PM

Good info Gene…I’ll give it a shot next time this arises.

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 4466 days

#7 posted 08-08-2013 03:34 PM

Thank you for this neat tip. Filed away for future reference.

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 4036 days

#8 posted 08-08-2013 04:25 PM

Great tip Gene! Keep ‘em coming.

-- I never finish anyth

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 3994 days

#9 posted 08-08-2013 11:01 PM

Rance: The first two pics are finished pieces. But I have added a close up sample that I did today to show the results clearly.
I chose cross grain white oak to illustrate how even a ring porous wood will not show any creeping under the tape line. Easy & razor sharp.

“Do your worst” is a bit of a jab at our current finisher, who seems to make a mess of everything we give to him.


BTW, taping, then clear coating, means that you can not stain properly.

-- [email protected]a : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4187 days

#10 posted 08-09-2013 02:58 AM

Unbelievably crisp line! Another “keeper tip”.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 4111 days

#11 posted 08-10-2013 03:35 PM

very cleaver gene , thanks for sharing

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View rance's profile


4282 posts in 4657 days

#12 posted 08-10-2013 10:25 PM

Andy said it “Unbelievably crisp.”. Good point on the clear coat Gene. Thanks for sharing your work and tips.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

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