Author Archives: Bruce Johnson

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.

A Next Level Coffee Table Addition

1. Hero

A few months ago, I made this coffee table for my son Eric. While he certainly was appreciative, he joked that it was too low for him. Eric, I should point out, is six-feet-four-inches tall. His coffee table is where he eats many of his meals and works on his laptop, so, yes, it does cause him to lean over uncomfortably.

2. CutsThe solution, I decided, was to make a simple television tray that Eric could set on top of his coffee table when he needed some extra height. I started by picking up an 18” x 36” pine panel and cutting off two 7” pieces to serve as the sides.

3. Supports

I then glued, and nailed, two strips of wood to the underside to attach and support each side.

HoleKnowing Eric would need a place for either pens or a beverage, I picked up a plastic cup holder, traced a circle, then cut it out.

4. Polyshades

For the sides, I selected Minwax® “Classic Black” Polyshades®, brushing on just one coat before setting them aside to dry.

5. Poly-U

I decided to keep the top natural, so I applied the first of two coats of Minwax® Fast-Drying Polyurethane.

Hero

When I was finished, I liked Eric’s coffee table tray so much, I decided to make a second one for our own coffee table. Now all it needs is a pizza sitting on it.

Be sure to check 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!

Bruce

Restore a Foggy or Cloudy Skylight

Opening

For years, the skylight in our bedroom has had a permanent foggy appearance. But aside from looking unsightly, there was no reason to undergo the expense of a new one. So when I spotted this large stained glass window in an antique shop, I got an idea.

NotchesThe window’s frame was falling apart, so I removed it and made a simple oak lap-joint frame, cutting the notches using a hand saw and a chisel before gluing them together.

Test While the glue dried, I applied three different Minwax® Wood Finish™ stains in different colors– Natural, Golden Pecan, and Golden Oak to a piece of scrap oak, then held it up against the skylight to see which would be the best match.

Can As it turns out, the Minwax “Golden Pecan” Wood Finish came very close.

Stain I applied my stain, let it soak in for a few minutes, then wiped off the excess stain before letting it dry.

Plugs Afterwards I drilled a shallow half-inch hole in each lap-joint for the screws that would secure the stain glass window to two strips of wood I installed inside the skylight. The wood buttons hide the screw heads and give the frame a bit of decoration.

Lacquer Frames like this one are ideal projects for Minwax® Clear Aerosol Lacquer. Just a couple of thin coats provide all the protection the oak will need, and the lacquer dries in just a matter of minutes.

HeroWhile the antique stained glass window and my new frame didn’t fill the entire skylight, it certainly made it look much better, giving it some vintage character and a little extra color.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Bruce

This One’s For the Birds

Old Birdhouse

Everyone loves to watch birds, whether at a feeder or around a nesting box. Putting up nesting boxes is a good way to attract birds year round. But as you can see by this bluebird house of mine, it doesn’t take long for unprotected boards to begin to swell, crack and warp. Before long they simply fall apart.

Before

Last week, I picked up these two cedar bird houses at my local home improvement store. This time, however, I decided to protect the wood before I put them up.

Helmsman For the first bird house, I selected Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane, which has special “blockers” to ward off the damaging ultra-violet rays of the sun while also preventing moisture from soaking into the wood’s pores.

Teak Oil For the second, I chose Minwax® Helmsman® Teak Oil. Whereas Helmsman Spar Urethane dries on top of the wood, the Teak Oil is absorbed into the wood, where it dries and hardens. It also protects the wood from sunlight and moisture.

Teak App I prefer to pour the Teak Oil into a shallow container, then brush on a liberal coat, which the wood quickly absorbs. After it dries, I will apply a second coat the same way.

Bordhouse

I purposely did not seal the insides of the nesting boxes, as birds prefer raw, natural wood near their chicks. But protecting the outside with either Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane or Minwax® Helmsman® Teak Oil will ensure that any birdhouse will be around for a long time.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Bruce

A Vintage Hatbox Revived As the Perfect Gift

April is Minwax National Woodworking Month®! To celebrate, Minwax® expert Bruce Johnson has put together some of his favorite tips & tricks for using Minwax® products. Don’t forget to download the Minwax National Woodworking Month® mail-in rebate form, you could save up to $17 on select Minwax® products. 

BeforeFor several years now, Leigh Ann has had this antique Victorian hatbox, with a drawer for gloves, that had been taken from a tall dresser her grandmother once owned. With Leigh Ann’s birthday fast approaching, I decided I could find a new use for it.

Wood Filler The top had a few unsightly nail holes, so I squeezed in some Minwax® Stainable Wood Filler, let it dry, and sanded each one smooth with the wood.

Stain side The original color of the oak hatbox was still attractive, but badly worn, so after a light sanding I applied a fresh coat of Minwax® Wood Finish™ in “English Chestnut” to even out the color.

Base stain I used the same color to stain a new oak base I plan to set it on when it is complete.

Spray Tray At our craft supply store, I picked up four unfinished pine trays and sprayed each one with two coats of Minwax® Clear Aerosol Lacquer. After the lacquer had dried, I cut a piece of felt to line the bottom of each one, as well as the bottom of the glove drawer. By this time, the English Chestnut stain had dried, so I protected all the wood with three light coats of Minwax® Clear Aerosol Lacquer.

ClosedI then installed two plywood shelves inside the box where a Victorian gentleman would have stored his tall hat. Next, I screwed the hatbox to the new oak base, rehung the door and slipped the drawer back into place.

OpenNow instead of a Victorian hatbox she never quite could decide what to do with, Leigh Ann has a new place to store and display her jewelry, as well as a daily memory of her grandmother.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Bruce