Mark Baker

Friday, February 6, 2015

I will be down in the workshop for a bit this week, completing a few articles for the magazine and experimenting with some more new finishes. I think it"s fair to say there has been so much development and a resulting increase in options for us in the area of finishes and abrasives, that we are spoilt for choice. Choice is a good thing, but is also quite confusing for people. I know of turners who use one finish only, whether or not it is suitable for the item they have created and its intended use because they "like it".

There is a myriad of solutions and also products to suit almost everything we are likely to encounter, the crux of the matter is what do we want to do with our work. Are we happy with something and do we not give much thought to lustre, depth, colour, longevity, UV resistance, food safety, toy safety, touch resistance, heat and water resistance and such like? I don"t know, you tell me.

What I can say is that the learning curve can be quite high, but then that is no different to learning to turn, we put in the time and the effort with good grounding and we get rewards. Finishes and abrasives are nothing but other tools and the process of how to get the best from them requires time and patience. I heard one person say the other day that he couldn"t be bothered due to not making much, so I only use two finishes, one is oil and the other is friction polish. There is a lot to be said for this approach. If you are happy with something and it does do and is the right or appropriate finish for what you need then all is well. I must admit that I use and oil finish for my work most of the time. The fact that I use different ones for different jobs and situations is because I have yet to find one finish that does everything I want. I also use lacquers, colours and other finishes as required. But I constantly experiment and see if I can improve things. UV inhibitors in finishes have made a big difference in slowing down UV colour degradation in work. I have spent fortunes on expensive wonderful looking woods that are rich and vibrant when first cut and turned, only for them to mellow over time and darken to a uniform dull brown or similar hue. I haven"t wholly solved the problem but certainly lengthened the time process for it to occur.

So, I am off now to go and do some more experiments. What finishes do you use?

Have fun,


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