A Unique House-Warming Gift

By Bruce Johnson

1. Parts

I have friends who just moved into a new house in Cleveland, so I thought a special house-warming gift would be in order. For me, that means a stop by my local craft store, where I picked up a few items.

2. White Stain

I started by staining a piece of birch plywood with Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain in “Pure White,” applying it with a foam brush, then wiping off any stain the wood did not absorb.

3. Gel

For my trim and wooden letters, I selected Minwax® Gel Stain  in “Coffee” to achieve a pleasing contrast to my white plywood. Once dry, I glued the letters to the plywood.

5. Ohio 2

I then cut out and traced an outline of the state of Ohio onto the plywood, isolated it with blue painter’s tape, and dabbed on a layer of Gel Stain using a foam brush. As soon as I had completed the staining, I peeled off the tape.

6. Poly

I found this cute red heart in my craft store, so I glued it to my state to represent the city of Cleveland. Then I finished the entire wall plaque with Minwax® Polycrylic™ Protective Finish.


When it was all done, I had a special housewarming gift that they can hang in any room of their house.

Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces – sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!



About Bruce Johnson

Author-craftsman Bruce Johnson has introduced millions of do-it-yourselfers, craftspeople and antique collectors to the world of wood finishing and antique restoration. As the official spokesperson for Minwax®, the leading manufacturer of wood finishing and wood care products, Bruce motivates people to take the initiative to beautify their surroundings. Through his many books, magazine articles and columns, as well as frequent appearances on national television talk shows, Johnson is recognized as an authority in the do-it-yourself community. Appearing on PBS, HGTV, The Discovery Channel, and currently hosting “DIY Woodworking” and “Build A Log Cabin”, on the DIY cable network, Johnson has brought the illustrious craft of wood finishing to the forefront of the American home.

An expert in wood refinishing, antique restoration, and home improvement, Bruce has published more than a dozen books on these topics, including Fifty Simple Ways To Save Your House, The Wood Finisher, The Weekend Refinisher, and The Official Identification and Price Guide to the Arts and Crafts Movement. For more than 20-years, he penned an antique refinishing advice column, “Knock on Wood,” which ran in dozens of antique/collectibles publications. Currently, he writes a column on Arts & Crafts for Style 1900 magazine.

A rare combination of craftsman and journalist, Johnson began his career as a high school English teacher, but left teaching to set up his “Knock on Wood Antique Repair & Restoration” shop. He spent the next 10 years as a full-time professional refinisher, but eventually returned to writing. Yet, Johnson says, he won’t ever be without a workbench and a couple of refinishing projects down in the basement.

Johnson is also the founder and director of the Arts and Crafts Conference and Antique Show held every February in Asheville, North Carolina, at the Grove Park Inn. The conference, which includes the largest Arts and Crafts antiques show, attracts more than 1500 Arts and Crafts collectors each year to its many seminars, tours, demonstrations and exhibits. Johnson is proud to have played a role in reviving interest in designers like Gustav Stickley, who founded the Arts and Crafts movement. His latest book, “Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Furniture,” was awarded the 2009 Thomas Wolfe Literary Award. These furnishings are treasured by such collectors as Steven Spielberg and Bruce Willis, among many others.

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