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Understanding Wood Finishing (American Woodworker) Paperback – December 1, 1998

4.6 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Given the abundance of titles on wood finishing published in 1993, librarians might be inclined to dismiss this one, which would be a definite mistake. Flexner, who has 20 years of finishing experience and has written for many woodworking magazines, assumes no experience in finishing wood. He provides comprehensive treatment of the various finishes, application techniques, chemical cautions, and reactions, convincingly overthrowing much of the conventional wisdom about finishing. His book gives readers a wood finishing consultant available whenever they need it for the price of an hour's time. Highly recommended. (Index not seen.)-- Alex Hartmann, Bloomsburg Univ. Lib., Pa.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Before beginning his writing and teaching career, Bob Flexner spent 20 years running a woodworking and restoration shop. In addition to writing the first edition of Understanding Wood Finishing, Bob has made two award-winning videos, hosted The Furniture Workshop, his own call-in radio show, and taught several hundred workshops and seminars. In addition, he has written more than 300 articles and edited the leading magazine dedicated to the professional furniture-restoration trade.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: American Woodworker
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Readers Digest (December 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762101911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762101917
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.8 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,222,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A friend loaned me a copy of this book when I was trying to figure how to stain a cherry cabinet without the typical splotchy results one usually gets with this difficult-to-stain wood. This book not only addressed that problem, it gave several techniques to deal with it. Flexner even explained why different brands of stain would have different results. I was so impressed I bought my own copy. No other book I've seen does such a great job of explaining the technical aspects of how finishes work, and what protection each kind of finish provides, while keeping the text easy to follow and understand. This makes it a great book for learning about the many different stains and wood finishes.
Plus, it is more comprehensive than other wood finishing books I've seen. It explains in detail the different application techniques, when and how to use them. There are plenty of helpful illustrations, including color photo examples of different stains and finishes on various woods. So it is a great reference source when working on a particular project and trying to decide the best finish or application technique to use.
I keep looking for other books on wood finishing that would add to what is in this book. But I haven't come across any yet.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a GREAT place to start your journey into wood finishing.
Bob starts by systematically explaining the logic and science behind different types of finish, including oils (varnish "oils" too, polyurethane and such), shellac, lacquer, conversion, waterbase, waxes, and more.
He also explains application methodology IN DEPTH, such as, french polishing, brushing, spraying.
He explains shaping tools (these include scrapers with sharpening methods, spokeshave devices, steel wools, rubbing compounds, sandpapers (all types)) and how to use them to achieve results.
He then goes in depth into suggestions for different woods, limited exotics and many domestics, as well as good rule of thumb's.
Main positives to this book: Mr. Flexner has given in depth and yet layman's explanations of how finishes work and the chemicals involved. This is integral to applying a good finish, in my opinion. This book could stand alone as everything a fledgling finisher needs to tackle any project.
Main negatives: Mr. Flexner is very informative and systematic. That said, he is obviously not a writer by trade. You WILL find yourself treating this as a reference book, its not a "sunday read" for the woodworking inclined. Several times (not many, but a couple) he contradicts himself (there is a passage that "debunks" the myth of better protection from thicker film build of a finish, and then later he suggests building the finish to a thicker film for "better protection...")
These negative in my opinion NO way detract from the book. It is an incredible reference tool for the amateur, and marks a necessary item for the professional finisher's bookshelf.
JTAcoustics
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Format: Paperback
I have bought a number of books on woodworking, as well as a few on wood finishing. This is by far the best book on finishing that I have come across. The book takes all the mystery out of all the different types of finishing materials and finishing processes. The author does a great job of explaining how each type of finish works as well as why certain stains and finishes work better on different types of wood. I would recomend this book to any woodworker who has ever screwed up a project by putting on a bad finish, or any woodworker who only uses one type of finish because that is all they know. This book will take the guesswork and fear out of finishing your projects.
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Format: Paperback
I purchased this book a few years ago on the recommendation of a friend and my wood technology professor (I am retired and took up woodworking about 6 years ago). Once I started using it, I gave away all of the other woodfinishing books I had purchased. It is that good. I find the modularization of the book one of the most helpful aspects. If I look up a problem I'm having or concerned about, I can find a short section that seems to deal directly with that problem. The book is no-nonsense and no-mystery and tries to explain why as well as how. This fits my need to know perfectly. I've also been to a two day seminar put on by Flexner. If you can imagine two, exciting days of this book with lots of color, that's the seminar. Bob wrote the book after getting years of nonsense and BS from finish "manufacturers." This book is the straight scoop, written with a real concern to demystify finishes and put the control into the hands of the woodworker.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Flexner's book is a gem. It answered 98% of my wood-finishing questions and dozens more I did not know enough to ask. I generally learn through books and am interested in the science behind processes. This book explains the chemistry behind different finishing products, their pros and cons, and how to best apply each one. It is well organized, easy to read and includes a complete index. Previously, my projects ended up with the finish they had when I gave up trying to improve things. Since reading this book, I have achieved the wood-finish I wanted.
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