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.

Create a Beautiful & Simple Magazine Rack with Just Two Board Pieces

We tend to keep our favorite magazines around for a while before recycling them. So when I saw a simple plan for a two-board magazine stand, I knew it was for us. I started by cutting a notch in the center that was equal to half the width of each 30” board. I then sanded each side smooth.

Since I was using pine, a wood that turns blotchy when stained, I gave it a liberal coat of Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, then waited fifteen minutes before staining.

I wanted a grayish color to blend with the couch in our family room, so selected Minwax® Wood Finish™ in Classic Gray,  and applied it with a foam brush, then wiped off all the excess stain before letting it dry.

For my clear finish, I selected the spray version of Minwax® Clear Aerosol Lacquer, which dries in just a matter of minutes. After it did, I assembled my two-board magazine stand simply by slipping the two notches together. No nails, no screws, and no glue required!

The finished product compliments our couch perfectly, and gives me a handy way to display my magazines close by.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Bruce

A Handy Recipe or Postcard Box

The other day I remarked to Leigh Ann that I needed to make a couple of small oak boxes to display postcards for an upcoming antiques show I direct. She then reminded me that I had also promised to organize our jumble of 5”x7” notecards with recipes taped to them. Suddenly, I had two reasons to start a new project.

I picked up some inexpensive oak strips from my local home improvement store, along with a package of eight Minwax® Wood Finishing Cloths in “Natural Oak.” Each pre-moistened cloth contains both a water-based stain and finish, which makes them perfect for small projects like this one.

And since the Wood Finishing Cloths are water based, that means they dry quickly – and without any odor.

And in no time at all, my first notecard box was dry and ready to go. Now I just have to go back and make the one I promised Leigh Ann for our recipe cards…

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by.

Bruce

Spice Up Your Kitchen with This Pallet Rack

With some extra clean pallet boards nearby, I decided to construct a simple three-shelf spice rack for our kitchen. If you like the idea, you can start by choosing how high and wide you want your spice rack to be, then lay out the number of boards you’ll need. I attached four together with two shorter pieces on the back, letting the top one protrude enough to use it to support my curved top piece.

I then took another board for my top piece, turned it lengthwise, and cut out a simple, Early American design. I placed it on top of my back boards and secured it with small nails through one of my back support boards shown in the first picture. The shiny nail heads you see here were in the pallet, which I left to give it even more character.

The sides and shelves were easy to cut and nail to the back. Just be sure to have some of your spice jars on hand to determine how wide each shelf needs to be and how much space you’ll need between each shelf. The final piece was this thin bar to keep the spice jars from falling off the shelf.

My favorite finish for pallet projects is Minwax® Polycrylic™ Protective Finish. The aerosol can version works great for projects with several pieces. Two fast-drying coats brought out the grain of the wood, provided some sheen to the dry wood, and made my spice rack look even better.

After that it was just a matter of bringing the spice rack into our kitchen, then watching as Leigh Ann began filling it up with jars of her favorite cooking spices.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Bruce

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