A professional woodworker shares basic, time-tested tips that will help you work faster and get better results on your furniture projects.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:September 2009
Our latest search for tips from professional
woodworkers led us to Dave
Munkittrick’s shop in Wisconsin.
“Years ago we left the big city and
bought this old farmstead,” Dave said.
“With a little bit of remodeling, the hog
barn became my woodworking shop,
and it’s been a great place to build,
repair and finish furniture for the last
Dave’s repair and finishing tips are
the fruit of careful thought blended
with ingenious thriftiness. Translation:
Let Dave help you get the job done well—and cheap!
Dave showed us how to tell a quality
paintbrush from a cheap one—good to
know when you’re at the hardware
store. First, he stroked a cheap plastic-bristle
brush against a table edge; the
bristles split apart. When he stroked an
expensive ox-hair brush on the edge,
the bristles wrapped around and covered
Dave’s advice: “If you’re serious
about finishing, invest in high-quality
brushes. If you clean them well, they’ll
last a lifetime, minimize brush marks
and hold more finish, so you don’t
have to reload the brush as often. I’ll
spend up to $50 for a good brush.”
Dave’s mallet for tapping furniture
parts together—and apart—is pretty
simple. “My rubber mallet was too
big to get into small spaces, so I
slipped a 1-in. rubber foot from the
hardware store onto a ball peen hammer.
It fits in tight spots and focuses
the hammer blow more accurately
during disassembly and glue-ups.”
The rubber feet are inexpensive
and come in various
diameters (3/4 in. to 1-1/2 in.).
Take your hammer to the store to be
sure you get one that fits.
If you force the lids of your finish
cans closed when there’s finish filling
the rim, the can won’t seal and
the contents will dry out.
“It only takes a few seconds after
you’re done to rub the can rim with a
cotton cloth, which guarantees a
clean and tight seal, and makes it
easier to open the can next time.”
“This may seem like an obvious
idea,” Dave said while slipping on a
pair of plastic gloves. “But if you
apply finishes bare-handed and then
clean your hands with solvents, they
go through your skin and into your
system. So I keep a jumbo box of
gloves handy and always pull on a
new pair when finishing furniture,
cleaning brushes or working with
any kind of adhesive.”
Boxes of 100 vinyl gloves are sold at home centers.
“Loose bristles coming out of the
brush and drying on your project are
a headache you can prevent,” Dave
said. Just smack a clean, dry brush
several times against the palm of
your hand. Loose bristles stick out
from the end of the brush and are
easily plucked before you dip the
brush in the can.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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