Craftsman, Woodworker, Antiques Refinisher, Columnist, Author and Television Host
Reliable Advice for Staining, Finishing, Repurposing, and Refinishing
Staining, finishing, and refinishing have come a long ways since I was first introduced to them more than forty years ago by, of all people, my grandmother. Back then it was often assumed that the first step in any wood finishing project was either hanging for dear life onto a roaring belt sander, or inhaling toxic chemicals that would burn holes in your skin.
Both techniques literally took the life right out of tens of thousands of fine antiques and family heirlooms.
Thankfully, today those huge bubbling cauldrons of hot chemicals have all been shut down, both for the safety of our furniture and the people who stood over those nasty dipping tanks, breathing in dangerous concoctions of methylene chloride, lye, and trisodium phosphate. Gone along with them is the attitude that belt sanders are a required tool for anyone wanting to refinish or repurpose an older piece of furniture.
Now we have a new mantra: Less is more.
And today refinishing has been joined by repurposing.
But what has not changed is what my grandmother instilled in me: a love and a respect for wood.
I started my career as a high school English teacher, then switched from a classroom to a woodworking and refinishing shop in Iowa City, Iowa. I soon combined my love for writing with my passion for teaching and my respect for wood by writing a syndicated newspaper column and the first of fourteen books, along with teaching refinishing classes in my workshop.
I have now added to my traditional books this website, which I will continue to expand and update with information based on my own first-hand experience, all with the goal of helping anyone at any level, whether you are a novice contemplating an unfinished furniture project, a repurposing D-I-Y enthusiast with ideas for pallets and architecural salvage, an antiques collector who wants to start refinishing, or an advanced woodworker looking for fresh ideas and suggestions.
And if you don't find the information you need here, just send me an email and a picture of your project and I'll try to help in any way I can.
Thanks for stopping by!
Three Important Rules: Always follow the manufacturer's directions, take all safety precautions and first test every product in an inconspicuous spot.