I was preparing to give a talk last month when the moderator introduced me as a woodworking and wood finishing “expert.” In thinking about what qualifies me, or anyone for that matter, as an expert, I’ve decided it only means I’ve been around long enough to have made nearly every possible staining and finishing mistake. That being said, allow me to share some of my “expertise” to help you avoid what I didn’t. Just take a look here.
Mistake #1 Working when it’s too cold, too hot, or too humid.
All stains and finishes depend on evaporation to dry, but when the temperature is below 65 degrees or above 90 degrees, or the humidity level is above 50%, then the evaporation process is either too slow or too fast, causing your finish to either not dry or dry too quickly, turning white — like my deck!
Mistake #2 Not wiping off my stain.
Stains are designed to dry in the wood, not on the wood. Anytime I have let my stain harden on top of the wood, it turned sticky and uneven, and rubbed off easily. The solution: wipe off any stain the wood does not absorb.
Mistake #3 Using an old can of finish.
If you have to break or peal off a layer of dried finish inside your can, it’s beyond its prime. Once the drying agents start to react to the oxygen trapped inside the can, they don’t stop. As a result, the old finish you apply may never completely dry. Best bet: buy only the amount of finish you need for each project. Start fresh!
Mistake #4 Applying too much finish.
Just as plywood gets its strength from layers of thin wood, so does a finish. Applying too much finish only results in runs, drips, or a thick layer that never completely dries or hardens. Thin coats dry faster, look better, and provide more durability. Thin is better!
Mistake #5 Dry is not the same as cured.
Finishes dry quickly in the right environment, but the curing process, where they reach their maximum hardness and durability, takes longer. Don’t be impatient — like me! Give your furniture projects a couple of days and your floors a week before you subject them to any stress — or they may scratch easily!
Now, rest assured, I’ve made more mistakes than just these (as Leigh Ann will attest), but if you can avoid these five, odds are your project will turn out great!
Until next time,
Thanks for stopping by!