Restoring Antiques. part3

A recent article in Fine Woodworking magazine described how a man in British Columbia blew up his house by pouring gasoline down the kitchen sink. Seems he had been cleaning paint brushes. The fumes found a dry trap in the basement and migrated across the basement floor to the water heater. Bang. Up went the house. We must all take proper precautions when using these materials.

As 1 have recommended in the past, any piece of furniture that is to be finished should be disassembled as much as possible. Remove all drawers, doors, table tops and anything else that can be removed and finished as a single unit. If possible, rig up some sort of turntable so that you can stand in the same place and rotate the work while having the light coming from behind you and reflecting at an oblique angle off the surfaces of the workpiece. I have a sturdy draftsman’s steel stool with a wooden seat that I use for this purpose. A piece of % in. plywood about 3 feet square with a no. 14 screw through the center of the plywood into the center of the wooden seat makes a secure sturdy turntable. When finished spraying it is easy to remove the screw and reconvert to a stool to be used at the workbench.

The viscosity of the material being sprayed, at least for my little gun, must be such that it will pour almost as easily as water. The spray should be even and full so that it lays down a full, even, wet coat that levels almost immediately but does not flow and sag on vertical and near-vertical surfaces. Care must be taken not to apply too much material or these runs and sags will be inevitable. Two thin coats will make a much better and nicer looking finish than one thick coat. For really nice work each coat must be rubbed down with very fine sandpaper, 200 grit or finer. If the material gums up and rolls into little balls while sanding you didn’t allow enough time for drying. Sand very lightly and carefully so as not to go through the finish and end up with spots of bare wood. You will find these spots exceedingly hard to repair, especially if the wood has been stained. Be sure to thoroughly clean up after sanding. Dust well with a cloth moistened with alcohol or mineral spirits followed by a tack rag. Often the tack rag alone is sufficient. If the moistened rag is used, allow the surface to dry thoroughly before applying the tack rag.

The best technique for spraying flat horizontal surfaces is to begin with the edge nearest to you and spray with the grain, working from left to right. Do not swing your gun in an arc; maintain the same distance from nozzle to the surface on each pass. The distance is critical and is best determined by experience, but a beginning point is about 10 in. to 12 in. The gun should be moved along briskly; just fast enough to apply a thin, wet, even coat. Make each pass long enough to clear the edges of the work so as not to build up an excess at this point. Shut off the spray at the end of the pass, then start it again to begin a new pass. Overlap each pass about one-third to make sure of full coverage,
Perpendicular surfaces should be sprayed beginning at the top and working down following the same techniques. Slant the gun down so that the surface already covered will not be splattered by overspray. Care should be taken while spraying spindles and panels to avoid applying too much material. When spraying the edges of the relieved panels, cover the center surface first and then spray the edges with the gun slanted away from the center panel.

Keep in mind that it’s important to read and understand all the information and instructions that come with your spray outfit. It will cover many points that just can’t be covered in an article this short.

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