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March 29, 2023

Furniture Makers

We Speak Furniture

STL223: Mike Mascelli knows more about finishing than you do

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Question 1:

Hi Guys,
I am finishing up a new small shop in my backyard. I’ve put in duel pane windows and am finishing up insulating the walls and ceiling. I intend to install a vented gas wall heater to warm it in the winter. I plan to heat to about 50 degrees in the winter. What I’m wondering is whether that is warm enough to put on finish? Most of my finishes will be shellac or varnish while painting shop furniture. Do I need to turn up the heat when finishing? I really enjoy listening to the podcast.

Question 2:

I recently finished a farmhouse table using reclaimed pine (beams and 2x4s from taking down a wall in our 40s cape cod). I wanted to give the wood an old tone and decided on some amber shellac instead of figuring out conditioning and keeping stain from splotching. I now realize my canned shellac was probably 6-8 years old (and that it had exceeded is shelf life). The first meal eaten on the table has caused warm (hot) plates to “melt” the finish causing marks and placemats to stick, cold glasses to ring, & fingerprints and marks from general contact.

I know now that that old shellac was a mistake, and maybe even shellac in general for a dining table. Can I salvage the finish with a coat of two of fresh shellac and make it harder and less susceptible to hot plates and cold glasses leaving marks? Can I place a tougher clear top coat that will adhere to the waxed shellac? Or am I stuck with removing it and starting the finish process all over?


Question 3:
Hi Shop Talk,

I know that Mike and Bob Van Dyke are big fans of adding extended plexi-glass bases on routers. Can you share more about why they are so helpful, and how we might go about doing this at home? What is the thickness of the plastic? Does it come from the home center, or do we need to get pre-drilled universal bases from woodworking suppliers (which can be expensive). Are the routers center on the extended base or favored to one side and top or bottom?

Thanks! Stay safe out there.


Question 4:

Hi Guys,
I’ve been relistening to some of the old episodes. In #59 a question was asked about comparing Danish oil and wiping varnish. One of the statements mentioned “real varnish”. I was wondering what “real varnish” means. Enjoy your program immensely.

Every two weeks, a team of Fine Woodworking staffers answers questions from readers on Shop Talk Live, Fine Woodworking‘s biweekly podcast. Send your woodworking questions to [email protected] for consideration in the regular broadcast! Our continued existence relies upon listener support. So if you enjoy the show, be sure to leave us a five-star rating and maybe even a nice comment on our iTunes page.

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