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How I select the end for a job

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Prior to now few weeks I’ve had two ending questions come up – one addressed to me, the opposite a basic query on Fb.

“How do you deal with ending?” started the previous. “I’ve learn you employ pre-fin[ished maple or birch plywood] for the carcasses however I’m making an attempt to determine how a lot I wish to put money into a ending set-up.”

Any enough reply to such a basic query as “How do you deal with ending?” actually warrants a e-book; if you’re searching for steerage in French sprucing, this isn’t the article for you. Nor does this submit handle directions for making use of the finishes I’m going to debate; my intention is to assist readers take into consideration which end could also be greatest for them particularly conditions. As a result of many people embody built-in cabinetry for residing rooms, bogs, and kitchens in our repertoire, I’m going to deal with these as properly.

When selecting the end for a selected job, I take the next under consideration:

  • Look
  • Efficiency
  • Store or job-site situations
  • Software and drying time
  • Price

1 Look of a furnishings end

Any dialogue of {custom} or commissioned work is prone to contain end, as a result of the end of a chunk is so essential to how the piece seems to be.

How do your shoppers need the piece to look? There’s a world of clear finishes, in addition to paints, however since we’re simply speaking about look for now, let’s deal with that.


Newly painted kitchen cupboards (with dishwasher awaiting its matching panel). Stable maple faces completed with Benjamin Moore oil-based satin Impervo in a custom-mixed colour, utilized with a high-quality bristle brush. Counters are soapstone. I designed the cabinetry all through this kitchen, which is in a ’20s bungalow, to resemble that of authentic Nineteen Twenties bungalow cupboards I’ve seen in the identical locale. (Place issues in built-in design, as in so many different fields.)

Most painted finishes are opaque and will be brushed or sprayed. Though I sprayed lacquers at different outlets the place I labored previously, I don’t spray in my very own store. My insurance coverage firm would require me to put in an explosion-proof lighting system and exhaust fan to spray finishes – interval — doesn’t matter whether or not I inform them I’m utilizing an HVLP system, solely utilizing water-based finishes, no matter; they know that in the event you’re spraying, you might resolve to spray one thing flammable. So when my jobs require a sprayed end (in paint or lacquer), I subcontract them out to a sprig store that has the suitable tools.

For many painted kitchens, circumstances allowing, I set up carcases naked. That manner I can hand-plane out any dings or unevenness in adjoining cupboard elements after set up and never have to duplicate my labor. After easing edges and masking off face frames from prefinished interiors as obligatory, I take away mud with a brush attachment on a store vacuum, then tack the surfaces off with a lint-free rag moistened with mineral spirits, and apply primer with a curler made for the kind of paint I’m making use of. I brush out the curler marks with a high-quality brush (once more, made for the kind of paint I’m making use of, whether or not latex, acrylic, or oil-based). I scuff-sand the primed surfaces when dry, then take away mud once more and proceed to use the topcoats with a brush.

“What about brush marks?” some will ask. You’ll be able to reduce brush marks in numerous methods – this submit doesn’t enable for a full exposition of any explicit methodology – however basically, my response to this query is: “My shoppers need a handmade kitchen, so why would I take into account brush strokes, that are indicators of handwork, inappropriate?” Loads of contractors nonetheless equate “skilled” work with work that appears factory-made, untouched by the human hand. I discover most of my shoppers open to having their perspective on this challenged; most of them have merely by no means even questioned why they equate the “perfection” of mass-produced work with skilled high quality.

Milk paint

Furnishings maker, spoon carver, and trainer Lynette Breton designed and constructed the cupboards for her personal kitchen, then completed them with paint from the Outdated Customary Milk Paint Firm. As a result of the arduous maple is so dense, she added the corporate’s Further Bond primer to the primary coat of colour, then utilized two extra coats of paint alone, utilizing totally different colours for explicit elements of the kitchen. The peninsula cabinetry has three coats of the next combine: 75% Pumpkin and 25% Snow White. As a result of milk paint alone won’t resist stains, particularly from oils (together with butter, after we all find yourself with on our fingers when baking), she utilized two protecting coats of Osmo 3054 Polyx-Oil in clear satin matte. Lynette additionally made the handles on the peninsula cupboard, primarily based on a {hardware} from the time her home was constructed. She exhibits essential steps of that course of on Instagram; you will discover her there by way of her web site. You’ll find a profile of Lynette right here.

Milk paint gives a wide range of different choices when it involves look. I’ve lined a few of these, together with issues for protecting topcoats, right here. Whereas many could also be tempted to dismiss milk paint as an choice for kitchen or lavatory cabinetry, Lynette Breton’s kitchen cupboards are a very good instance of the beautiful prospects you may obtain with this end and protecting topcoats.

One other view of Lynette Breton’s kitchen. The cabinets on the submit, which she wrapped with edge-banded arduous maple plywood, have been impressed by these within the kitchen of Wharton Esherick’s home.

Clear finishes

Clear finishes will be utilized over stain, dye, or each, or on naked wooden with out added colour. With out entering into questions of efficiency, which might be our subsequent cease, listed below are a number of the issues I keep in mind:

  • Does the shopper need a matte, hand-rubbed, and even unfinished look, or would they* want a movie end?
  • Does the shopper need a heat look that can amber much more over time, or would they like one thing cool?

Usually talking, water-based finishes might be cool, whereas these which are solvent-based might be hotter. That stated, I’ve not discovered a water-based polyurethane or different severely sturdy topcoat I can suggest, regardless of trials with many merchandise for the reason that late Eighties; if I needed to attempt one at this level, it is perhaps the Bona waterborne ground end that our buddy John Hewett used for our kitchen ground.

Water versus oil. Each side are “cabin-grade” hickory floorboards. The hotter boards are completed with Waterlox Satin Tung Oil (three coats), whereas the cooler ones are completed with Bona Visitors waterborne ground end. (Please ignore the canine hairs and dirt.)

Just lately, plenty of wax-oil finishes have been developed that defend wooden whereas sustaining a cooler tone. The principle vary of merchandise with which I’m acquainted is from Osmo, which has a wipe-on, buff-off furnishings end containing a small proportion of white particles that works properly with pale species similar to ash and maple. However given the final decade’s love affair with all issues grey (and the corresponding rejection of most issues heat or “amber” on the grounds that they appear dated), the ground ending trade has give you a wide range of finishes which are extremely protecting but minimally noticeable by way of sheen and movie.

I completed the maple elements of this ambrosia maple and walnut sideboard/room divider with Osmo “Pure” and used Osmo “Clear” for the walnut sections (apart from the uncovered walnut tenons, that are handled with the identical materials because the maple).

Some finishes will be layered to regulate the quantity of heat or have an effect on the looks in different methods. For instance, it was fairly frequent within the early ’90s to use a boiled linseed oil and oil-based polyurethane combine for a warm-toned end, enable the piece to darken with publicity to UV gentle for a number of days, then apply suitable protecting topcoats similar to oil-based polyurethane. The completed wooden will proceed to darken over time.

At all times watch out when layering totally different finishes, and ensure they’re suitable, to keep away from issues with drying or adhesion. A basic instance is the end I wrote about some years in the past for Advantageous Woodworking journal. To realize the look of century-old oak trim and built-ins for bungalows and different modest home sorts from the early twentieth century, I exploit a mixture of dye, stain, and amber shellac. Generally the piece I’m constructing requires extra safety, so I add oil-based polyurethane. Though I acquired clobbered by a number of readers who observed that I used to be recommending poly on prime of a form of shellac that has not been dewaxed, which these readers claimed would trigger adhesion issues with the topcoats, their claims have been incorrect, as confirmed by the technical employees at Zinsser (the producer of the shellac I really useful, and nonetheless suggest) — in the event you comply with the steps in my article absolutely, completely scuffing the dried shellac, then eradicating all traces of mud earlier than making use of the poly topcoats, you should not have any downside with adhesion. I’ve items I completed this manner 30 years in the past which are nonetheless in good form.

Constructed-in completed with a layered end to resemble millwork from the early twentieth century. The wallpaper on the again of the glazed-door part is “Bamboo” by Trustworth Studios.

2 Efficiency of a furnishings end

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all relating to ending. For instance, whereas the kitchen cupboard trade could take into account sprayed conversion varnish normal for kitchen cupboards, that doesn’t robotically make conversion varnish the one choice applicable to your scenario. Sure, kitchen cupboards are subjected to lots of put on and tear. However some individuals are completely satisfied to take further care with their cupboards; a Danish oil similar to Watco, tung oil similar to Waterlox Authentic, wiped poly, or wax-based end similar to Osmo could also be advantageous for them.

When shoppers are on board (after you’ve defined ALL the professionals and cons), it’s generally OK to interrupt guidelines. This mid-century fashionable kitchen for Lee and Eric Sandweiss has doorways and drawer faces veneered in curly birch over stable lipped edges. We completed the cabinetry with Minwax Wiping Poly in satin — 15 years earlier than I took this photograph for my e-book “Kitchen Suppose.” The kitchen will get used a number of instances per day; after we did the work, the shoppers had twin 8-year-old boys. They rented the home to others whereas overseas on sabbatical, and the kitchen cabinetry remained unscathed. The counter is domestically quarried limestone. The partitions are paneled with veneer, additionally completed in Minwax Wiping Poly. Care in use is among the many most essential elements relating to sturdiness.

Others wish to drop knives and fling tomato sauce with impunity. For them, three coats of thinly brushed oil-based polyurethane could be a minimal in my world. However for a very hard-working end – like, when your shoppers have three youngsters who’ve pals over on the reg – I take cupboards to an expert spray store for conversion varnish.

In some circumstances after I’m recommending a end for efficiency, I discover it helpful to consider wood flooring. Though flooring not often advantage a point out within the realm of advantageous woodworking, I usually look to ground finishes when worrying about whether or not my most popular alternative by way of aesthetics might be sufficiently hard-wearing. If a end can defend a ground, it may in all probability defend a tabletop or wood counter.

As for polyurethane, I do know that many individuals hate it. I don’t, as a result of I’ve realized to use it thinly to provide a movie end with a low luster. Correctly utilized, oil-based poly doesn’t seem like plastic, and it’s a far cry from the plastic-encased look of epoxy coatings similar to these used at barbecue joints and diners – not that I’ve something towards both. To take away the odd remaining brush stroke or mud particle I scuff the end with 320-grit paper, vacuum and tack it off, then buff with paste wax. Is that this end seen (as distinct from fully matte) on our hayrake desk (beneath), which I constructed to a design by Ernest Gimson for my e-book “English Arts & Crafts Furnishings: Tasks & Methods for the Trendy Maker”) seen? Sure. However minimally so. And after a number of years of arduous use — it’s our kitchen and eating desk — there aren’t any stains. Nor have I ever had oil-based polyurethane craze, crack, or flake, even over 30 years of use – however this has as a lot to do with how I apply it and which model and product I exploit as with every different issue. (For many polyurethane-finished jobs I’ve used Minwax oil-based satin — the sort you sweep, not wipe — although these days I’m much less happy with it because of modifications made to the formulation.)

An big beefy leg of an arts and crafts style table.
For this hayrake desk I constructed to a design by Ernest Gimson, I used curly sassafras from an area sawyer. I completed the bottom with a shop-made linseed oil-and-poly combine, however for the highest I utilized three coats of Minwax Oil-Primarily based Polyurethane in satin, utilizing a bristle brush. My pictures wasn’t as much as the duty of portraying the thinness of the movie and the satin (not gloss!) sheen, however I can attest to it. In particular person, you may see and really feel the expansion rings on the floor, some six years later.

3 Working situations

Along with efficiency and appears, I hold the realities of my store circumstances in thoughts when selecting a end. My store has no devoted ending house, so if I’m going to use a slow-drying movie end similar to oil-based polyurethane or oil-based paint, I begin by giving the place a very good sweep with a store vac that has a HEPA filter. Ideally I depart the house alone for a number of days, with no additional mud manufacturing (and produce the store cat into the home). I additionally use an air cleaner mounted on the ceiling, set on low, not simply to take away particles from the air, but in addition to maintain air flowing — and in an upward route, not throughout the floor of the work — which gently hurries up the formation of a dustproof movie on the floor as end dries.

On the entire, I attempt to keep away from slow-drying movie finishes, because of my store scenario. Hand-rubbed finishes similar to these produced by Osmo that penetrate the floor of the wooden and depart minimal end on prime are nice for a lot of my work; there’s no movie to gather mud or different particles, and in lots of circumstances these finishes give the requisite efficiency and appears.

Don’t overlook {that a} single piece of furnishings could have totally different finishes for various elements, relying on anticipated put on. Our kitchen/eating desk, as an illustration, has an oil combine on the bottom and three brushed coats of oil-based polyurethane on the highest.

4 Software and drying time

Relying on the look and efficiency my shopper is after, and which of them my store setup permits me to use efficiently, I recommend a end that will match the job. As an expert, I’ve to consider how lengthy the ending course of will take. If I’ve 17 drawer faces and 10 doorways brushed with oil-based drying paint within the store, any “woodworking” for the present or subsequent job must be on maintain. More often than not I get round this by having other forms of labor I can do, whether or not within the workplace (don’t even ask about this 12 months’s bookkeeping) or on the drawing desk. However not at all times. A devoted, dust-free ending house could be an actual asset.

5 Price

As with different parts in any job, price is normally an element. Lots of the finishes I’ve talked about listed below are steeply priced. Prime quality paint can simply price $80 a gallon at this level, and the sorts of Osmo I purchase typically are available in round $50 for round a quart. Sorry; I don’t have any low-cost work-arounds for this submit.

Lastly, samples are important.

No matter your efficiency wants and most popular look, it’s best to at all times make a pattern on the precise sort of fabric you’ll be utilizing. That’s the one option to know the way the end will make that individual species look. Take the end pattern by means of your complete course of; in any other case your pattern gained’t be really consultant, because of which you will unintentionally mislead your shopper(s). Then topic it to the form of put on you anticipate the commissioned piece to get. I normally lay the end pattern down horizontally, for max (i.e., worse-case state of affairs) penetration, and apply the sorts of drugs prone to find yourself on the floor of no matter I’m making. For a eating desk, espresso desk, or kitchen counter, meaning purple wine, espresso, tomato sauce (or ketchup), mustard, Worcestershire sauce, butter, olive oil, water, and a few sort of extra-spicy sizzling sauce similar to sriracha. I depart the check substances on the pattern in a single day, then wipe them off with a water-dampened fabric.

Opening picture: A walnut bench with Osmo “Clear” end in satin. Please observe that the carved letters look higher in particular person; they appear uneven on this snapshot.

*I’m utilizing “they” as a gender-neutral singular pronoun.

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