The Furniture Guys

Ed Feldman and Joe L'Erario

How To


The one thing I will specify right here at the beginning is, that if you already have tools, or, if you are going to set out to acquire the morass of equipment needed for simple furniture repair, you should try and purchase the best available and not the two-dollar bargain basement kinds of buys my dad used to bring home. In other words, let's say you come upon a sale for twelve wood chisels for $6.99: stay away!! These types of products will only serve your needs ill and ultimately result in many return trips to the home center for the better product. Of course the exact moment at which you determine you will no longer buy those budget basement diddys, will give a clear indication as to whether or not you should have been a brain surgeon! You will discover over time that the overriding outlay for buying these cheap tools far exceeds the cost (give or take a text book or two) of med school.

Staining Wood Evenly

You may notice that when using oil stains on certain woods, such as cherry and pine, these woods can turn out looking very uneven and splotchy at times. This is due to sap markings as well as the absorption content of the wood’s density. In other words, these woods soak in more stain in some areas than in others. To counteract this, first seal the wood with a "spitcoat" of shellac. (A spit-coat is five parts denatured alcohol to one part shellac as it comes from the can). Apply the spitcoat evenly with a hair brush (do not use foam brushes). The alcohol will allow the spitcoat to dry very quickly. When dry, sand the wood with a 320 grit paper and then stain. You will find the effect much more pleasing to the eyes. Promise.

Excess Glue

Glue that oozes from joints should never be wiped away with a wet sponge. Let me repeat that: GLUE THAT OOZES FROM JOINTS SHOULD NEVER BE WIPED AWAY WITH A WET SPONGE. Do I have to say it again? Good.

I once taught a three day seminar on wood finishing and the first question the class asked me -- bear in mind it was a private "Trade" joke because they all knew the answer and just wanted to see how I stood on the matter -- was:

"Do you use a wet sponge to wipe away drippy glue?"

I said "NO!" viciously, and they allowed me to go ahead with my lecture. In the cabinet shops I have known and hated, I told them, it always seemed that a boss would assign someone the carrying of the notorious bucket of water in which sat the disgusting ancient, blackened glue sponge. This goon would walk around splashing water on both finished and unfinished surfaces, while sloppily wiping away the excess glue. Then he might take a bite of an oozing mayonnaise sandwich on a long roll instead of waiting the forty or forty five minutes later when the glue may be simply peeled from the wood's surface like peeling a nice ragged line of sunburn from a shoulder. Wiping away wood glue with a wet sponge on a finished surface also introduces water to the finish which can result in a moisture blush, or cloudy spot if the surface is lacquer. Especially, if the finish is shellac.

On both plywood and solid woods, even though you may think you have wiped away all traces of drippy wood glue with your magic wiping-sponge, you will soon be discouraged to find a host of rogue glue dots or nasty smears once you’ve applied your stain.

So please, be neat. Allow the glue to set so you can peel it off easily.