Craftsman, Woodworker, Antiques Refinisher, Columnist, Author and Television Host
"How do I get started?"
Wood finishing involvesthree major steps, each of which will be explored in greater detail in this website. They are:
1.)preparing the wood,
2.)staining the wood, and
3.)finishing the wood.
Preparing the Wood
Without proper preparation, your stain and finish will not be absorbed into the pores of the wood evenly.
a.)Sanding -- Raw wood should first be sanded with #120-grit sandpaper to remove any dents or scratches, for if left in the wood, dents and scratches will absorb too much stain and finish, making them very noticeable. A second, lighter sanding should be done with #180-grit sandpaper to remove any scratches left in the wood by the #120-grit sandpaper. All sanding should be done in the direction of the grain of the wood and preferably by hand or with an orbital sander - and not with a belt sander.
b.) Conditioning -- All softwoods and most hardwoods will turn blotchy when stained with a medium or dark stain. To reduce the blotchiness, first apply a coat of Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner according to the manufacturer's directions.
Staining the Wood
Wood stains are absorbed by the pores of the wood. Lighter stains enhance the grain of the wood, while darker stains will, within limits, change the wood's natural color. After testing the stain on scrap wood or an inconspicuous spot, apply a liberal coat of stain using a brush, pad, cloth or aerosol can. The final color will be determined by:
1.) the wood's ability to absorb the stain, and 2.) the length of time you allow it to penetrate the wood.
Only testing will determine the length of time needed to achieve the color you want.
Once that time has expired, remove any stain that the wood did not absorb by wiping the wood in the direction of the grain with a clean cloth. Allow the stain to dry according to the manufacturer's directions.
Finishing the Wood
A finish locks in the color of the stain, seals the pores against unwanted liquids, prevents the wood from swelling during times of high humidity and from cracking when the air is extremely dry, extends the life of the wood, protects it against minor scratches, and makes it look more attractive.
There are approximately ten different types of furniture finishes readily available. The application techniques and drying times, as well as safety precautions, will vary from type to type and manufacturer to manufacturer, so read the label instructions carefully. Each type will be examine and explained in this website, along with ways you can:
1.) determine which finish to use, and
2.) make it look like it was applied by a professional -- or even better.
Like I said, each of these three steps -- and more -- will be explored and explained in this website, so read on!
Three Important Rules: Always follow the manufacturer's directions, take all safety precautions and first test every product in an inconspicuous spot.