Wood Finishing Overview

Wood finishing is the process of protecting or improving the look of a wooden surface. A good finish makes a wood item good looking, no matter how good, or bad, the item is. Wood finishing is very much about getting the preparations right. Here is a short wood finishing overview.

Safety is important when working with wood finish. Already short exposure to some finishing products can cause irritation to the skin, eyes and throat as well as headaches and dizziness. Longer-term exposure may cause serious health issues. Not only are some products health hazards, they can also be highly flammable. A few of the oil-derived products may combust spontaneously in room temperature. Safety is not to be taken lightly when working with wood finishing products.

You can prepare the wood manually but it takes a lot of time and is seldom fun. You use a plane or scraper first and then use a sanding block to get a smooth surface. But using a power sander is a much faster solution. A random orbit sander is very versatile and does not leave any swirl marks. A palm orbital sander can be necessary for surfaces that can’t be reached with a larger sander. Even if you use a power sander, you may need to do some manual sanding but the sander will do most of the work for you.

Unfortunately, a coat of finish will not only make the wood look better, it will also magnify flaws. This means that you need to get rid of flaws and blemishes before you apply finish. Small blemishes are generally easy to remove by using wax or shellac sticks. Larger blemishes can often be concealed with wood filler or with a patch. The latter requires that you create a mortise and glue the patch into it. Needless to say, this requires a fair bit of experience.

You have a huge number of different wood finishes to choose from. Sometimes, finishes are divided into three different types, evaporative, reactive and coalescing. Evaporative finishes are dissolved in materials that evaporate once applied, leaving only the finish on the wood. Reactive finishes react with other materials, for example oxygen.

Staining is used to change the appearance of the wood. Typically, cheap wood is stained so that it looks like expensive wood. For open-grain woods you can use grain filler to produce a high-gloss finish.

Bleaching is a way of lighten the color of the wood. Bleaching is used for a several different purposes. Note that bleach can also affect your tools, so be careful. Pickling is the art of making new wood look like aged antique wood.

Wood finishes can be applied in a number of ways but the quickest and most efficient way is to use a spray gun.

What is a Jigsaw

The jigsaw is a very useful tool, not only for woodworkers. But not everyone knows what a jigsaw is. So let’s first answer the question, what is a jigsaw? For most people a jigsaw is a portable tool used for cutting custom shapes and curves in wood, metal and other materials. The traditional jigsaw is a hand saw with a thin blade. But nowadays a jigsaw is electric, often cordless, which is very easy to use.

The term jigsaw has been used for several different tools. And some people use the term saber saw instead of jigsaw. Here we are going to use the term jigsaw for a portable reciprocating saw.

Although the jigsaw is very important, you also need to use the right blades. No matter how good you are with the jigsaw, you need to use the right blades as well. HSS steel blades are good but bimetal blades, HSS steel teeth welded onto a flexible base, are more durable.

The combination blade is a very useful blade, good for most straight and curved cuts. Blades with a large number of teeth per inch are designed for fine cutting. The knife blade is toothless and is the best blade for cutting very thin wood. The reverse-tooth blade cuts on the downstroke, which minimizes the risk of splintering on the top of the workpiece, it is very useful for veneer.

Electric jigsaws can be corded or cordless. Both types have some advantages. Nowadays, you have quite powerful cordless models on the market. Unfortunately, they are much more expensive than corded jigsaws but they are very convenient. The corded jigsaws are powerful and often cheap. But you are limited by the cord and need also pay attention so you don’t cut the cord.

In order to be able to use your jigsaw for a lot of different tasks, you need a variable speed model. Slower speed also decreases the risk of splintering. Another useful feature is orbital-blade action, which means that the blade moves slightly forward on the upstroke and away from the workpiece on the downstroke. The orbital-blade action decreases friction but increases the risk of splintering. That’s why you can choose between orbital blade and reciprocating movements. The quick-release blade change allows you to change blades without using any tools. This makes it quick and easy to change blades.

One very useful feature of the jigsaw is its ability to do interior cuts. You don’t need to drill a hole first, the jigsaw will penetrate most materials. Note that most jigsaws will let you do both bevel and compound cuts quickly, you just tilt the base plate. One of the main advantages of a jigsaw is that you can do most cutting tasks very quickly.

Miter Saw Overview

A miter saw may not be very useful outside woodworking but for woodworkers it is a very useful tool. A miter saw lets you do accurate crosscuts and miter joints. A power miter saw will do the job very quickly. Here is a short miter saw overview.

A miter, also called miter joint, is a joint where two objects are joined at a beveled edge. The most common angle is 90 degrees, the two pieces are cut at 45 degree angle.

You have probably seen the good old wooden miter box. It works fine for 45 degrees and 90 degrees cuts. It is a cheap solution but if you are going to a lot of miters and crosscuts you must like prefer to pay a little bit more to get a more efficient and versatile solution. A manual miter saw is simply a backsaw that is suspended in a frame. The frame makes it possible to execute accurate crosscuts and miters. It is a cheap solution but it takes a lot of time if you are going to do a number of cuts.

The motorized miter saw has become very popular. It is easy to use and it gets the job done quickly. Today you have four different types of power miter saws, they are:

– Standard Miter Saw (Chop Saw)
– Compound Miter Saw
– Sliding Compound Miter Saw
– Dual Compound Miter Saw

Note that power miter saws can do a lot of damage. Safety is important, although modern miter saws have a number of safety features, such as retractable blade guards, you need to wear safety glasses. Also make sure that the saw is secured. When working with large materials, make sure that it supported.

The standard miter saw, sometimes called standard chop saw, only allows you to turn the saw table to the left or the right. The saw itself is always cutting square to the table. This means you can only make horizontally angled cuts. It is a very useful tool for woodworkers but you have more sophisticated tools.

The compound miter saw can do everything a standard miter saw does. But the blade can also be tilted, allowing you to cut bevels. This makes it also possible to cut a miter and a bevel at the same time, i.e. a compound cut.

A sliding compound miter saw works like a compound miter saw but has the added feature that the saw can slide forwards and backwards. This means that it can cut much wider work pieces than with the standard compound miter saw. This makes it a very versatile tool. A sliding compound miter saw is expensive but well worth paying for if you are going to work with wide stock.

The dual compound miter saw functions like a sliding compound miter saw with the added feature that the blade can be tilted in either direction. Standard compound miter saws can only be tilted in one direction, left or right. This feature can save you time, you don’t need to worry about if you have put the wood in the right position.

Most modern miter saws have a laser guide that indicates where the cut will be done. A nice feature, you don’t need to lower the saw onto the wood and make an indentation.

What Is A Mortiser

What is a mortiser? If you are not into woodworking, chances are that you don’t know what a mortiser is. Most woodworking tools are well known but the mortiser is an exception. The mortiser is a very useful tool, if you are going to cut rectangular or square holes in wood. Otherwise it is difficult to justify the purchase.

The mortiser was invented back in 1874 in Rockford, Illinois, by Robert and Ralph Greenlee. Their company, Greenlee, is still producing mortisers today. In woodworking, it is very good to be able to quickly create square and rectangular holes. Mortise and tenon joints has been around for ages. But it requires that you can create accurate mortises. This had been done manually with the help of a chisel and mallet for thousands of years. But it was very time-consuming. The Greenlees managed to solve this by creating a machine that could create mortises.

A mortise is cavity cut into wood, while the tenon is a piece at the end of a piece of wood that is going to be inserted into the mortise. The mortise and tenon joint was used already in the ship found at the Giza Pyramid, which was probably created around 2,500 BC.

The early mortisers were what today is called a square chisel mortiser. It has many similarities with a drill press. It has a drill bit that cuts the hole and a hollow rectangular chisel that makes sure that the edges are straight and clean.

Nowadays, you have two other types of mortisers as well. The chain mortiser is meant for cutting large mortises. They are expensive and aimed at the timber and log home industries. The horizontal mortiser is simply a router that has been mounted sideways. It is very good for floating tenons. If you have a router, you can create your own horizontal mortiser simply by building a stand and router mount.

The mortiser is often found in professional workshops, it is the best tool for cutting mortises. But most woodworking amateurs don’t need a mortise very often which makes it difficult to justify the expense. If you have a drill press, you can buy a mortising attachment. They are relatively cheap but unfortunately they are not very good. They are awkward to use and the result is not very good, often you need to manually improve the mortise afterwards. Another possibility is to use a router but that takes a lot of time and you still need to use a chisel and mallet afterwards, the corners are unlike to be square. So if you are regularly cutting mortises, investing in a mortiser is likely to be a sound decision.

Wood Glue Overview

In woodworking, glue is very useful. Sometimes you don’t want to use nails or screws and in some cases you may want to add glue for additional strength. In veneering, you don’t have any choice, you have to use wood glue. Here is a short wood glue overview.

Glue has been used for a very long time. Wood glue was used already in the ancient Egypt, some of the glue is still holding pieces together! The early wood glues were animal glues. In Greece and Rome animal glue was used for veneering. The most common type of animal glue is hide glue. Later on hide glue was used for violins. Animal glues are still used today.

But nowadays you have better glues than animal glue. The most popular glues for woodworking are yellow glue and white glue. Sometimes the term PVA glue is used, PVA stands for polyvinyl acetate. Strictly speaking, only white glue is PVA glue. Yellow glue is an aliphatic resin emulsion adhesive. But some rumors say that many manufacturers dye white PVA glue yellow because it is easier to sell yellow glue than white glue. It is best to read the labels carefully rather than relying on the color of the glue.

Yellow glue is also known as carpenter’s wood glue. This is due to the fact that it is very often used in woodworking. One advantage of yellow glue is that it gives you about ten minutes to adjust the wood without losing any strength. But it is worth noting that some woodworkers disagree, telling you that if you adjust the pieces, the bond will become much weaker. You need to clamp the pieces together, it takes time before the glue has dried. Excessive glue is easy to remove. If it is still wet, you can wipe of excessive glue with a damp rag. Once it is dry, you can sand it off.

Yellow glue has a few disadvantages. You need to check the expiration date, it has a short shelf life. Note that far from all versions of yellow glue are waterproof. Read the labels carefully before you pay for the glue.

White glue is similar to yellow glue. But if we stick to the definition that white glue is PVA glue while yellow glue is aliphatic resin emulsion adhesive the main difference is that white glue dries slower. This means that you can adjust the pieces for longer time than if you had used yellow glue.

Hide glue is still used today but it has some major drawbacks compared with modern synthetic glues. It is not very strong, not waterproof and it is messy to use. But it is often used for antique furniture and veneering. The advantage is that it is easy to remove, just use water.

Super glue, which really is cyanoacrylate glue, is very popular for repairing objects. It is not a wood glue but it can be used for wood. It works very quickly and is relatively strong. Epoxy glue is very good for outdoor environments. It is often used when the glue is required to withstand tough weather conditions. Gorilla glue is another popular glue, it is a polyurethane glue. Some woodworkers love it but others don’t like it all because it expands as it dries.

Woodturning Overview

Woodturning is more of an art than science. Unlike normal woodworking, in woodturning it is the piece of wood that is moving, or rather turning, while the tool is stationary. The lathe is the primary woodturning tool. It rotates the workpiece and woodturning tools are used to shape the wood. Here is a short woodturning overview.

Before getting into woodturning itself, it is important to point out that woodturning requires some safety precautions. First of all, no loose clothing around the lathe. Needless to say, if something get stuck in the lathe, serious injury is very likely. Always wear safety goggles, or even better a face mask. Although the lathe itself is not very noisy some of the woodturning activities are noisy so hearing protection can be worth considering. Before using a lathe for the first time, always read the manual carefully.

Woodturning is a pleasurable pastime. Even if it may take a lifetime to master woodturning, a beginner can after a few hours of training create simple but beautiful objects. Woodturning is both fun and fascinating. And it may even be possible to make some money.

Basic woodturning requires three main groups of tools. The lathe is the most expensive piece of woodturning equipment. Additionally, you need a set of woodturning tools and a grinder. As mentioned earlier, you need a face mask or safety goggles. Hearing protection and a dust mask are also useful investments.

The most expensive investment in woodturning is the lathe. Unfortunately, a good lathe is expensive. It may be worth looking for a second-hand lathe. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the lathe, the better. But generally, the bigger lathe, the more expensive it is. A variable speed lathe is the best. Electronic variable speed is better than pulley systems and mechanical variable speed systems, but also the most expensive.

You have an enormous amount of woodturning tools on the market. You can spend a lot of money buying tools. If you are a beginner, it is best to buy only the most necessary tools and learn how to use them before buying additional tools. Woodturning tools are either made of carbon steel or HSS (High Speed Steel) steel. HSS tools are better, they are harder and can be used much longer than carbon steel tools. In most cases, buying HSS tools will be cheaper in the long run. That said, carbon steel tools are very good for tasks such as scraping.

Woodturning tools can be divided into cutting tools (chisels and gouges) and scrapers. The term parting tools refers to narrow chisels that are used to separate a finished piece of work from the waste wood. Buying a set of turning tools saves you some money and you get everything you need to get started. One or two spindle and bowl gouges should be included in every set. A roughing gouge and a nose scraper are essential as well. A parting tool is also needed in the beginner’s tool set.

A grinder is very important. It is not used for woodturning but is essential to keep your tools sharp. A bench grinder with two wheels, one coarse and one fine, is the easiest way to sharpen your woodturning tools. Most of the grinders are cheap.

Stationary Woodworking Tools

Woodworking requires that you have the right skills but also a lot of tools. Although you can do everything with manual tools, power tools will save you a lot of time. Hand-held or portable power tools are cheap and easy to use. The basic power tools for woodworkers are the drill, the router and the sander. Stationary woodworking tools are generally associated with workshops but some stationary tools can also be used at home.

Stationary woodworking tools are more powerful than handheld tools, and they free up your hands. But stationary machines are often expensive and many of them take up a lot of space. The only handheld tool that does not have a more powerful stationary counterpart is the router. The wooden router is a very versatile tool.

For home use, you have a couple of interesting stationary woodworking tools. Here are the most important.

If you are doing a lot of sanding, a stationary disc sander or combined disc and belt sander can be a very good investment. Portable disc sanders have only a small disc, otherwise they will be difficult to control. That is not a problem with a stationary disc sander. Note that a combined disc and belt sander is a compromise. If you need really good sanders, you’d better buy one disc sander and one belt sander.

The lathe has been around for a long time. Simple lathes were used already in the ancient Egypt. It is the best tool for woodturning. Since woodturning allows you to create really beautiful wooden artifacts, it is a popular hobby. Lathes come in all possible shapes and forms, the small models are often reasonably priced.

Bench grinders are not really woodworking tools but they are very versatile. For woodworkers, a bench grinder is very useful. It is the best tool for sharpening bits. Drill and router bits must be kept sharp. Needless to say, a bench grinder can be used for much more than just sharpening bits. Most bench grinders are small and relatively inexpensive.

Jointers and planers are excellent tools for rough wood. They are used a lot in professional workshops but the smaller models are cheap enough to justify them for home use. Sometimes the terms jointer and planer are used for the same device. But a jointer is used to straighten edges while a planer is used to produce a flat surface. Just to complicate things, you also have combined jointers and planers. Jointers and planers are often expensive but they can save you a lot of time.

A drill is an indispensable tool for woodworkers. The stationary version of the drill is the drill press. A drill press lets you bore holes much more accurate than a portable drill. Of course, a drill press can be used for more than drilling.

Woodworking Tools Overview

Woodworking is a popular hobby. Working with wood not only requires that you have the right skills, you also need some tools. Professional woodworkers have a wide variety of tools, many of them are quite expensive. But the average woodworker doesn’t need many expensive tools. And a beginner can do a lot with just cheap tools.

The first thing a woodworker needs is a good workbench. It is possible to build your own workbench but that project is best to leave until later. You have a lot of workbenches to choose from. Make sure to select one that has tool trays. This helps you to keep your workspace clean. Since you are going to use the workbench for every project, it pays off to take your time and find a workbench that really suits you.

Woodworking is not without its dangers, so a few safety tools are highly recommended. To protect your eyes, use safety glasses. A face shield gives you even more protection. If you are sanding, a dust mask is recommended. If you are using noisy power tools use hearing protection. Also make sure that you have a first aid kit available, just in case something goes badly wrong.

You need some vises and clamps. The most popular are C clamps, bar clamps, hand-screw clamps and pipe clamps. Additionally, a bench vise for your workbench will free up your hands.

Woodworking requires good tools for measuring. The most basic measuring tools are the steel rule, the tape measure and the caliper. Many more measuring tools are available. Fortunately, most of them are cheap.

The saw is maybe the tool that is most often associated with woodworking. You have a large amount of different types of saws. The most important saws for woodworkers are the back saw, the crosscut saw, the coping saw and the rip saw.

A woodworker does not need as many hammers as one could believe. The most important hammer is the claw hammer. It is used not only to drive nails into the wood, it can also be used to extract nails from the wood. A finish hammer, or finishing hammer, is also good to have. To knock wooden pieces together, use a wooden mallet. It is also used to drive dowels and chisels.

Shaping tools are important in woodworking. The most important are the file, the knife and the plane. The most useful planes are the smooth plane and the low-angle block plane. You have a lot of files on the market. The two most important are the mill bastard file and the flat rasp. A good knife belongs in the basic woodworker tool kit. Woodworking requires sanding. Sanders are the best solution but you need to do some sanding manually as well.

You can use manual drills but an electric drill will be much more convenient. For most people, an electric drill is the first power tool they buy. For woodworking, a drill and a router are the two mostly used power tools.

Drill Overview

The drill is the most common of all power tools. Almost every household has an electric drill. They are cheap and can be used for many tasks around the house. But you have two other types of drills that can be useful as well.

Simple drills have been used for thousands of years. The manual drill is quite useful for small jobs. Today, two types of manual drills are still used. The small hand drill is easy to use. Back in the 19th century the geared hand drill was developed and it quickly became popular. The hand drill is only suitable for small holes. Before the electric drill, larger holes were done using a hand brace, also called a chest brace or a carpenter’s brace. The brace has been around for a long time and was used to drill large holes. Of course, an electric drill is much more comfortable but the manual drills are still useful for some specific tasks.

The electric drill has been very popular for quite some time. It is the first power tool people generally buy. Nowadays, the cordless drill has become the first choice for most people. Thanks to improved batteries, cordless drills can be used for all drilling tasks. The modern cordless drill can also be used as a screwdriver. If your drill has a reverse switch, you can use it as a screwdriver. Note that you need to lower the speed as well.

If you are going to use the drill a lot, a corded version may be a better solution anyway. Modern lithium-ion batteries can be charged quickly, so it is possible to use such a drill, with two battery packs, non-stop. A hammer drill is needed if you are going to drill in hard materials. You have both corded and cordless hammer drills. Since the hammering action quickly drains the battery, a corded hammer drill is the best solution if you are going to use the hammering action a lot.

If you are going to do precision-drilling, a drill press is the right tool. Unlike the other drills, the drill press is a stationary tool. Drill presses are large and expensive so unless you really need one, don’t worry about them. Modern drill presses have lasers that make it very easy to drill accurately. You have a few fairly cheap drill presses on the market so if you want one, you don’t need to be a millionaire to be able to afford a drill press at home.

This drill overview would not be complete if we didn’t mention that an electric drill can also be used as a sander. Of course, it will not be as good as a real sander but for basic sanding tasks you can use an electric drill.

Manufactured Woods

Plywood and particleboard don’t have the same reputation as hardwoods and softwoods. But both plywood and particleboard are very useful. And they are much cheaper than most solid woods.

Plywood offers a number of advantages for woodworkers. It is available in wide range of thicknesses and sizes. You can get plywood with any common veneer. Plywood is easy to cut, the only thing it is not suitable for is complicated joinery. Plywood is very stable, cracking, warping and twisting are very uncommon. And yes, plywood is cheap.

Plywood as we know it is a fairly new product, it was introduced in the middle of the 19th century. Plywood is made up of thin sheets of wood veneer. So it is possible to say that plywood is really old, going back to the ancient Egypt. But the modern plywood is as mentioned, much newer, it was invented by Immanuel Nobel. Plywood is made up of wooden layers that are glued together. By making sure that adjacent layers have their grain at right angles to each other, plywood becomes very strong. By using an odd number of layers, the sheet becomes very balanced. The end result is that plywood is stronger than a single piece of wood of the same size.

Like solid woods, plywood is available in both softwood and hardwood varieties. But in the case of plywood, the terms refer only to the face and back layer. Plywood is grouped according to strength and durability. The strongest plywood is called Group 1 for softwood and Category A for hardwood plywood. Group 4 (softwood) and Category D (hardwood) are the poorest grades.

Note that some plywood panels are waterproof, suitable for outdoor weather. Interior grade plywood is able to withstand some moisture.

Plywood has one major shortcoming, the veneer sheets are clearly visible. Fortunately, you have a number of ways of concealing the multi-ply composition.

Particleboard was developed in the 1930s. It was one way of recycling sawmill waste. Particle board is made of a mix of wood particles and synthetic adhesive bonded together under heat and pressure. The cheap price and versatility of particleboard has made it very popular. A lot of sawmills main activity is the production of particleboard. But for many woodworking purposes, particleboard has one problem, it is difficult to work with. Except for multi-layer particleboard, particleboard is not suitable for painting or finishing.

Note that fiberboard, sometimes called hardboard is not the same as particleboard. Fiberboard is made up of wood particles reduced to individual fibers. Fiberboard is much easier to work with than particleboard.