Tips for Dealing with Dust

By Bruce Johnson


Ask any wood finisher and you will learn that dust is the enemy of a smooth finish. Eliminate dust and you eliminate the problem. So, how do you do that?

First, recognize that dust is everywhere; on your project, around your workbench, on the floor, on the ceiling, even on your clothes. And, as soon as you brush on a sticky stain or finish, it acts like a magnet, pulling dust to it.

Second, pick your work space carefully. Working outdoors only trades wood dust for pollen, road dust and bugs. Working indoors is better, but you still want to avoid brushing a stain or finish beneath an active heating or air conditioning vent. Also, avoid areas with a strong natural breeze that brings dust indoors. If you rely on an open window for ventilation, put a screen on it to block out dust particles.



Third, a rag or a dry brush are not the best ways to eliminate sanding dust. A rag forces dust deeper into the pores of the wood, where it will come back out once you start applying your stain or finish.



A dry brush or, worse yet, an air compressor simply blows the dust up into the air, where it hovers before landing back onto your wet stain or finish.



Finally, the best way to control dust is to eliminate it with a vacuum. A soft bristle brush on the end of the hose will gently dislodge dust from the pores, joints and corners of your project while the vacuum draws it into the canister.


Even with vacuuming, however, you will still have some dust settle into your wet finish. To eliminate it, after your clear finish dries, sand it lightly with #220-grit sandpaper before applying your next coat. If needed, wet-sand your final coat with #400-grit dipped in mineral oil, which acts as a lubricant to prevent your sandpaper from leaving scratches.

Until next time.

The secret to a smooth finish is a smooth surface.


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.


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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