1-2-3, WIPE

by Dale on April 1, 2013

About 35 years ago, I received my first multiple chair job. There were four matching ladder back spindle chairs, round rungs everywhere but the slats in the back. These chairs were badly in need of refinishing and some re-gluing. It wasn’t really that difficult. I wasn’t worried about it at all.

Well, all went well until they were all stripped, sanded, re-glued and ready for finishing. My older brother, Barney, had recently used a new (at that time) finish and he recommended it to me. It was called 2-3-4. It’s simple to apply, you just use a clean shop cloth and wipe on the material in the can marked #1. Then after a few minutes to allow as much of the goo to soak in the raw wood: Wipe it off with a clean cloth. Leave it alone over night. Then repeat the process with the can marked #2. Another night of rest and once again, wipe on thick, wait – wipe it off from can #3. The next day: buff it all with another clean cotton cloth, apply paste wax and buff again.MB_dalechair33_best

I’ve since learned a universal name for the 1-2-3 products is wiping varnish. I mean WIPING, Wiping, wiping, wiping, wiping, and more wiping varnish.

Well, I though it seemed simple enough and the small jewelry box Barney used it on looked great. So I decided to try it. After I spent about 20 minutes on the first chair, I wiped it really hard to force the thinning varnish into the pores of the wood. Then I had to wipe the sweat of my brow and other areas! It was hard work. This is why they call it wood “work” ing.

And I knew I had 3 more chairs to do and each chair had to be done 3 times each including the paste wax. As I looked at the work before me, I was glad it wasn’t twelve marching chairs. There was no other solution but to forge ahead. I had to wipe down a chair 16 times to complete this job. That famous phrase rushed to mind, “There has to be a better way!”

I looked to the industry. How do the manufactures solve this problem? They are finishing hundreds of chair every day and making a profit! I found out that they spray the chairs with lacquer, nitrocellulose lacquer. That would probably cut the time to less than one hour on a typical chair and the finish is flawless.

Understanding lacquer and everything about it became my quest. Well, it’s been quite a long journey for me and lacquer. I’ve been learning, using, experimenting, trying this and that, purchasing different spray equipment such as air MB_daleandguncompressors, filters, dryers, thinners, retarders, flattening pastes, colored lacquers, Japan dryers, the list of terms goes on and on.  Thousands of hours reading, learning, and thousands of dollars spent on equipment.

All learned the hard way – by doing the job and solving problems when they occur. If you are a woodworker who is setting sick and tired of wiping on, wiping off and you are at the point where I was 35 years ago. Have I got a deal for you!

I teach a weekend finishing class that is called Fearless Finishing. It’s a class where I share and teach what I’ve learned about finishing in 35 years organized into a hand’s on workshop of only two days, including a simplified booklet with all the information you need in outline form.

You will learn all about every type of wood stain, finishing systems, shellac, varnish, lacquers, catalyzed finishes, etc. and spraying techniques and equipment to get you out of the wiping world.

You will learn how to put professional finishes on your projects in less than half the time of the 1-2-3 wiping varnishes method.

Check out this class in my May, Workworking Class Calendar.

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