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 New Display Shelf From an Old Wooden Drawer

As my wife will agree, I hate to throw anything away that I might someday be able to use, including this old drawer from a chest that fell apart years ago.

But last week I decided I could make a unique display box out of it, simply by using up some scraps of wood I already had around.

I started by gluing each shelf support to the inside of the drawer where I wanted each shelf to be.

For small projects like this one, I reach for a tube of the water based Minwax® Express Color™ and squirted out a small drop of “Oak.” As you can see by the sheen, Express Color contains both a stain and a finish for an easy, one-step application.

In just a few minutes time, I had rubbed the Express Color into my two oak shelves, ending with long smooth passes with my cloth to smooth it out and to remove any excess stain.

After that, it was just a matter of deciding where to display my recycled drawer, and, what to put in it, while I waited for Leigh Ann to agree that this old drawer had been worth saving.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Bruce

Upcycling A Pair of Stained Glass Doors

When my good friend Jim called from a local antiques shop, he really sounded excited. He had found these two arts and crafts stained glass cabinet doors and knew they would look great in our home. After a quick measurement, Leigh Ann and I realized they would fit perfectly in our two narrow bedroom windows.

The cabinet doors were covered with several layers of old white paint, so rather than risk sanding or stripping off any hidden lead paint, I decided to attach thin oak strips to create a new framework around the stained glass.

After nailing the strips of oak to the old frame, I filled the countersunk holes with Minwax® Stainable Wood Filler.

Once it had dried, I gave the new oak and the Stainable Wood Filler a quick sanding with #180-grit sandpaper, then vacuumed off the dust.

Since this was a small project, I reached for a tube of “Oak” Minwax® Express Color™ to stain and finish my new frame in one easy step.

Once the restoration was complete, all that I needed to hang them were four hooks and two lengths of chain. In just a few hours, I transformed two painted cabinet doors into two oak stained glass windows that provide both privacy and artistic color to our bedroom.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by.

Bruce

Step it Up with this Ladder Display Rack

While cutting up a wooden step-ladder may seem just a little strange, it actually made my wife Leigh Ann very happy. Not only had she been warning me that this old cobbled up ladder was going to collapse under me, she also had seen photos of old ladders being used as towel displays in kitchens and bathrooms.

While she was insistent that I didn’t sand off all the old paint splatters, it did need a light sanding just to eliminate any rough edges and to bring out some of the natural grain of the wood.

Since the rungs would be a challenge to brush on a finish, I opted for the aerosol version of Minwax® Polycrylic™ Protective Finish. Polycrylic is water-based, so it dried quickly and did not change the color of the wood. But it did give it just enough sheen to bring the old wood to life.

To hang it, I drilled a quarter-inch hole at the top of each side, then inserted a knotted loop of cord. I set the ladder in our family room while I went back to get a hammer and a couple of small nails. When I came back, Leigh Ann had already started experimenting with hanging dish towels from it.

I managed to get one more picture before she grabbed it and took off to see which room it would look best in. I headed back to my workshop to start another project….

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by.

Bruce

Restoring an Antique Bench

As much as I enjoy digging through antique shops, I continue to shop online, which is where I found this c.1910 Arts and Crafts stool with fabulous deep carvings.

But the oak was very dry, and the old, original finish needed protection against water, pets and guests. I knew immediately the best – and fastest – solution would be a thin coat of Minwax® Paste Finishing Wax.

Minwax® makes a high quality paste wax in two colors:  Natural and Special Dark for darker woods, such as my vintage stool.

All I needed to apply the wax was a soft cloth, which I used to work the wax into the pores of the wood. The dark stain in the wax also repaired some of the scratches and wear to the stool.

After letting the wax dry for about ten minutes, I took another clean cloth and buffed it up to a satin sheen. Less than thirty minutes from start to finish, my Arts and Crafts stool is already in our living room.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Bruce