37 votes
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What's the purpose of raising the grain before finishing a furniture piece?

You want to raise the grain before using water-based finishes, as those will also raise the grain, but you won't be able to adequately scrape/sand off the raised fibers. I'd recommend using distilled ...
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  • 633
32 votes
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How long does it take tung oil to cure?

TL;DR In general, I would avoid turning to discussion forums when trying to find advice about tung oil as it’s very likely the person talking has innocently confused the product that they are using.  ...
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  • 3,581
21 votes
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What can I coat a wooden drawer slide with to reduce drag?

A good go-to solution is wax. Either some paste wax, or in a pinch you could rub a candle on it. I've also rubbed a bar of soap on wooden drawer slides in the past, though I'm sure there are plenty ...
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  • 18.6k
19 votes

What are some safe finishes for indoor projects likely to be chewed on by a young child or infant?

Per @ratchet-freak's suggestion, I looked up "food-safe finishes". Options include: Pure tung oil. Extracted from the nut of the china wood tree. Used as a base in many blended finishes. Available ...
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  • 707
18 votes

How do I achieve a "piano black" high gloss finish on wood?

I think the link in LeeG's reply covers all the necessary steps but just to have it spelled out here. Good surface prep is very important, imperfections 'telegraph' through paint very easily so the ...
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  • 59k
17 votes

Making wood filler from sawdust

I remember hearing a while ago that sawdust and wood glue can be used as a wood filler to fill in gaps and imperfections. Yes you can do this, but note that the term "sawdust" might be slightly ...
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  • 59k
16 votes
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What is the difference between "curing" and "drying"?

While it's correct to say these terms can be used interchangeably they should not, the meanings when used technically are quite distinct. The problem begins with the word drying being overused in ...
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  • 59k
15 votes

What's the purpose of raising the grain before finishing a furniture piece?

Water swells the wood fibers and they will plastically (permanently) deform. This leaves a rougher surface than what was prepared by sanding or scraping. Sanding after staining typically causes the ...
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  • 1,176
15 votes

What is the difference between "curing" and "drying"?

Drying is the process of a solvent being removed from a finish by evaporation. For example, water in acrylics or alcohol in shellac. Typically drying processes can be reversed by adding the solvent ...
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  • 2,216
15 votes

How can I properly dispose of rags used with Boiled Linseed Oil

Under what condition, if any, can I reuse the rags? I just throw my finishing rags away after using them; I can't think of any case in which you'd want to reuse them. It would probably cost more to ...
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  • 18.6k
15 votes
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What finish should I use to make a bowl "microwave-safe"?

Are there any finish solutions for making "microwave-safe" wood items for serving food on? It's not so much a question of "microwave-safe" finishes as "microwave-safe" materials. Microwaves work by ...
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  • 12.1k
14 votes
Accepted

What types of food-safe finishes work best for protecting wood that will be outdoors?

There are two substances that instantly come to mind: Wax (paraffin or beeswax) Mineral Oil I use both of these to protect my wood butcher block. They are both food safe, non-reactive and even ...
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  • 1,772
14 votes

What are the differences between sanding and scraping?

This is a very good topic to have here since there is active debate going on in woodworking circles about the overuse of sanding to smooth wood in the modern era. How do both techniques compare? In ...
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  • 59k
13 votes
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Should I use sandpaper or Steel Wool between coats of polyurethane?

It doesn't matter except if you're using water-based poly. If so, the water will rust the steel wool fibers that end up stuck in the pores of the wood and cause rust spots. I prefer steel wool ...
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  • 1,669
13 votes
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How do I achieve a "piano black" high gloss finish on wood?

I have used this guy's technique before and it works great. Basically, you apply very thin coats, then sand to about 400 grit, and after that, do wet sanding to about 2000 grit, and then switch to ...
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  • 8,026
13 votes
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Leveling a finish/finishing the finish

As I understand it poly varnish requires some minor abrasion between coats for good adhesion. Nope. You'll read this online a lot (and in some books, and what's worse even in the instructions for ...
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  • 59k
13 votes

What kind of finish should I use inside dresser drawers?

Major re-write as I missed that you were asking specifically about the drawers themselves. Seems it's pretty much 50/50 on whether people even finish them at all The traditional practice was for ...
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  • 59k
13 votes
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Can I apply water-based polyurethane over an oil based stain?

This should be ok if you gave the stain 3-4 days to properly dry out. You'll want the oil-based drying agent to completely vaporize from the stain before applying the water-based finish. Please see ...
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  • 12.1k
12 votes

What's the purpose of raising the grain before finishing a furniture piece?

Good answers, but nobody seems to have mentioned yet that some timber types are very prone to grain raising, and some really are not. I have never "raised the grain" by dampening as a ...
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  • 3,809
12 votes

What's the purpose of raising the grain before finishing a furniture piece?

Raising the grain not only helps to bring out fibers that might swell when applying the actual finish, but saturating the grain beforehand with a wood conditioner will help to make the grain "pop out" ...
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  • 3,995
12 votes

What types of food-safe finishes work best for protecting wood that will be outdoors?

For garden boxes, most of the rotting will come from the inside, not the outside. As such, the best protecting substance is probably plastic. You will not be able to reapply waxes or oils on the ...
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  • 835
12 votes
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Is there any such thing as sanding something *too* fine for finishing?

That's a great question. Typically, the purpose of the first round of sanding is to hide surface blemishes in the wood (e.g., machine marks, dents, scratches). The purpose of the subsequent rounds of ...
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  • 4,156
12 votes

Finishing a desk or tabletop?

oiling and applying something like polyeurethane which seems to be used in all the youtube tutorials OK need to run though a number of basics first. Firstly a general caution, lots of people who ...
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  • 59k
12 votes

how to fix very light scratches in polyurethane finish?

You're going to have to make this look worse before it looks better. The first step is *gulp* to lightly sand or scuff the entire surface until the existing scratches aren't evident, and then do one ...
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  • 59k
11 votes

How can I achieve a raw, unfinished look to my project while protecting it from water and physical abuse?

To keep the surface appearing as raw as possible and protect against water, I would suggest mineral oil. It will not prevent any mechanical abrasion, but will look natural and non-glossy without ...
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  • 1,772
11 votes
Accepted

Making fake/pseudo plugs or caps

It's called a plug cutter. (source: rockler.com) image shamelessly stolen borrowed from Rockler Cut your plugs from a scrap piece of whatever you're making your project out of. Also, a screwdriver ...
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  • 5,629
11 votes
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In what situations would I use a belt sander versus a random orbit sander?

I like a belt sander when I need to really remove some material like paint for example, I think it cuts better. an Orbital I like for finer sanding it offers a lot more control.
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  • 388
11 votes
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Are there advantages to using packaged wood finishing cloths instead of old towels and shirts?

I've used both and haven't seen any real advantage to the manufactured ones. In fact, I seem to get better mileage out of my polyurethane by using a bit of old sweatpants material cut and sewn into a ...
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  • 5,394
11 votes

Should I use sandpaper or Steel Wool between coats of polyurethane?

If you are happy with the results, then continue as you have! Using steel wool or sand paper allows you to create a uniform surface for the next coat of polyurethane, which generally looks nicer, ...
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  • 2,216
11 votes
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At what stage of basic furniture making should I "finish" the wood?

I recommend you apply any finishing products before final assembly, but after any gluing or other permanent assembly. Surfaces that are going to be glued together don't need (and shouldn't have) ...
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