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Understanding Wood Finishing HC (FC Edition): How to Select and Apply the RIght Finish (American Woodworker) (American Woodworker (Hardcover)) Hardcover – October 15, 2010

4.9 out of 5 stars 132 customer reviews

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  • Understanding Wood Finishing HC (FC Edition): How to Select and Apply the RIght Finish (American Woodworker) (American Woodworker (Hardcover))
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Editorial Reviews

Review

With its clear writing and engaging style, this is without a doubt the best researched, most authoritative, and easy-to-follow book on the subject. - Steve Shanesy, "Popular Woodworking "magazine editor

As professional finishers know and as amateurs will surely realize, finishing is easy once you know what you are doing. Understanding Wood Finishing makes the science of finishing understandable. - Frank Klausz, a professional cabinetmaker

We use Understanding Wood Finishing as the textbook for our students training to go ionto the furniture industry. It's the best written, most accurate, and most thorough wood finishing book in print by far. - David Miles, wood technology professor at Pittsburg State University

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.

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Product Details

  • Series: American Woodworker (Hardcover)
  • Hardcover: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing; Rev Upd edition (October 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565235487
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565235489
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 0.9 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Understanding Wood Finishing is aptly titled. Unlike most books I have read on wood finishing, Flexner's work gives a great deal of attention to understanding the subject. Other books I have read, including one of my favorites, Finishing Methods of Work, are compilations of methods and instructions. Flexner explains the mechanics of the finishes instead of just the properties and dogmatized applications. Make no mistake, he provides instructions on those areas as well, but he leaves the reader with an understanding of the products that will allow him or her to improvise with a high likelihood of success.

Another strength this book has is the classification he provides of many finishing products. I especially appreciate the breakdown of "oil" finishes, an area of consternation for many woodfinishers. This arrangement allows Flexner to provide more accurate definitions and instructions for application than if he had grouped them all together.

Furthermore, Flexner provides troubleshooting sections for most chapters covering various finish types. As a bonus for beginners, many of the problems are well illustrated with vivid photographs (vivid photographs and illustrations being commonplace throughout the entire book). The problem is always accompanied by at least one potential problem and at least one potential solution, giving the wood worker a number of options. There are also photos of examples the author has prepared to show the difference in different finishes and techniques.
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Format: Hardcover
This book dispels many myths and misleading thoughts about wood finishing. I've done a few simple finishing projects over many years, daunted by confusing and conflicting instructions, poor results when precisely following the instructions, etc.

Many reviews state that Bob is opinionated. Yes, he is, and we, the readers of this book, can benefit from it. He dislikes manufacturers misleading statements or missing ingredients lists. Or how about "salad bowl finish" is nothing but thinned varnish. During his professional career, he has questioned everything, researched and found the truth, and presented it here in easily understood language and images.

He focuses heavily on the chemistry of the various types of finishes and puts them in layman's terms to allow the reader to be able to make the overall best choice for type of finish based on a number of factors.

I had the opportunity to sit in on one of Bob's classes. He used a mix of product brands, only one of which was "professional", and simple techniques for hand applying the products. Several times, in a matter of an hour or less, with nothing up his sleeves, he produced better first coats (sometimes over stain) than I've ever achieved as a final finish. He also demostrated a few techniques, including showing how following the instructions for a pre-stain sealer provided poor results. He showed that tung oil is not always tung oil. He had many more examples crammed into 6 hours.

I feel that I now have a much better grasp of techniques and options that will not only allow me to achieve much improved results, but also with less work.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The long-awaited second edition is availble in June 2005.

The new edition displays the same clarity in writing, but includes 50% more pages and clear full-color photos. Also included are additional topics on newer technology finishes.

The first edition was a seminal work in wood finishing, exposing and debunking the myths (and product labels) and explaining why things work the way they do. Bob faced the same confusion early is his career, figured it out, and shared it with the rest of us.

This is a great book for someone that is trying to figure out finishes and is getting stymied. If you automatically reach for the same old can of finish all the time and want to expand, this is a great choice.

I have two copies of first edition and refer to them regularly. The second edition will be used likewise.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've purchased several books on woodfinishing, and most are pretty lame. This is an incredible book. I thought I knew quite a bit already, but I've learned tons. For instance, I had no idea you could make a satin lacquer finish into a gloss (or vise-versa) by rubbing it out differently. I thought once you chose the finish sheen when you bought the lacquer, that was it. (same is true for poly and other finishes, though they are harder to rub out). Anyway I highly recommend it. Easy to read, excellent pics and index. THe one by Jeff Jewitt is a close second (I bought it also), though isn't quite as good. Having both of them is good because they do things a little different, and also if something isn't covered as well by one, the other book covers it.
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Format: Hardcover
I also have the first edition of this book and always considered it as one of the best publications on wood finishing. This new, revised and updated version is even better. No matter what wood finishing book you already have, read this one too.

More than others, Flexner goes into detail and makes it easy to understand wood finishing. Finishing manufactures can tell us everything but this book does away with myths and marketing lies.

Also, unlike other books that show you a $$$$ spray booth to admire Bob doesn't leave you alone with this. I've read a lot of wood finishing books but this is the first one that shows you how to setup a simple and safe spraybooth in your workshop.

As you may have guessed already I recommend this book.
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