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.

Two-Towel Rack Shelves

While you might wonder how copper pipes fits in with a woodworking project, I think you’ll soon agree that pairing up unexpected materials can make an ordinary project — like kitchen or bathroom shelves — very unique.

I found these pre-made shelf brackets in our local home improvement center, along with two 24″ oak boards and some inexpensive half-inch copper pipe. I first drilled half-inch holes into the inside of each pair of brackets, then sanded my boards lightly with #150-grit sandpaper.

Small projects like these shelves are perfect for Minwax® Wood Finishing Cloths. Each of the eight cloths in a package come saturated with a stain and finish. This means they wipe on both color and protection in one step. For these shelves, I selected “Maple” to compliment the copper pipes.

Once the stain and finish had dried, I slipped each copper pipe into one of the corresponding holes, then attached each pair of shelf brackets to the underside of the oak boards.

In hardly any time at all, I had two handy display shelves that can be used in any room of the house.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Bruce

 

A Two-Tiered End Table

New furniture can be expensive and inexpensive furniture is often made of particleboard. So when we were looking for a new endtable, I decided I would need to get creative and build on myself. I really like these solid pine, pre-glued panels available in large home improvement centers. The panels come in a variety of lengths and widths and are easy to cut to whatever dimensions you prefer. They would serve as the perfect material for what I had in mind.

I started my end table project with 30″ x 18″ piece, then glued and screwed a 14″ section to one end for the back. The remaining section will become the second tier of my two-tiered end table.

Since the pine panels are just 3/4-inch thick, to give the appearance of being thicker, I glued and nailed 1″ x 2″ pine boards to the edges.

I then used Minwax® Stainable Wood Filler to disguise the small nail holes.

As soon as the Wood Filler had hardened and dried, I sanded the entire table with #150-grit sandpaper and vacuumed off the dust.

To reduce any blotchiness when I stained the pine, I first applied a coat of Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner.

Fifteen minutes later, I grabbed a heavy-duty paper towel and began rubbing in a coat of Minwax® Wood Finish™ in “Honey.” I just wanted a light coat of stain, so after three minutes I then wiped off any stain the wood had not absorbed.

While the table was drying, I set my four unfinished legs on a scrap of foam board and sprayed on a coat of Minwax® Polyshades® in “Classic Black.” Polyshades® is a combination of both stain and polyurethane that, unlike paint, lets the grain of the wood show.

For the two tiers of the table,  I added two coats of clear Minwax® Fast-Drying Polyurethane. It really enhanced the beauty of the wood and will provide all the protection our end table will need.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Bruce

Geometric Wall Art

I like nothing more than being able to make something that looks both complicated and expensive out of inexpensive materials — such as 1″ x 2″ strips of common pine. I started my wall art project by making a simple frame to fill a section of wall in our family room.

I then began experimenting with different lengths of 1″ x 2″ boards, cutting the ends at a 45-degree angle before both gluing and holding them together with finish nails.

With several pieces to stain and finish, I decided to use the aerosol version of Minwax® Polyshades®, which provides both stain color and a polyurethane finish at the same time. For this project I alternated boards finished with “Mission Oak,” “Classic Black,” and “Pecan.” Quick Tip:  it is easiest to stain each board before you attach it to the frame.

To keep my spacing uniform between each of the slats, I slipped in spacers of wood scraps before nailing each 1″ x 2″ board to the frame.

And while at first glance my wall art looks both complicated and expensive, it really was easy and fun to make.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Bruce

DIY Holiday Frame Gifts

The holidays are a time for pictures, and for those special handmade gifts that people cherish for years. So, why not combine the two?

Large commercial frames, however, are expensive, and cutting the notch in the back of each board requires a table saw or router. But I have found a way to avoid needing woodworking equipment — or paying high prices for large store-bought frames.

At most home improvement centers you can find 2’ and 4’ lengths of oak, pine and poplar boards in various thicknesses. By laying a narrow strip over a wider one, then tacking them together, you can create a notched board designed to hold the glass, your image and the backing.

After assembling this oak frame, I decided to stain it a holiday color, using Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain in “Green Tea.”

I applied the stain with a brush, then used a cloth to wipe off any stain the wood did not absorb.

Finally, I sealed the stain with the aerosol version of clear Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish. The great thing about Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish is that it dries in just minutes.

Which means it was ready to hang the same day.

I also made this frame, stained with Minwax® Wood Finish in “English Chestnut,” and decorated with holiday stickers I found at my local craft store.

So many frames, so many choices!

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Bruce