Wood Finishing Basics - DVD
with Michael Dresdner

Published by Taunton Press, USA
Originally published in VHS format in 2000


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As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 127

The Wood Finishing Basics DVD is a compilation of three videos previously released as Starting to Finish, Three Simple Finishes and Spray Basic.

Most segments are demonstrated by Michael Dresdner, a well-known finishing consultant and author in the US. The exception is the use of brush-on polyurethane by Chris Minich with Michael as the narrator.

The emphasis of the DVD is on simple to apply finishes with a minimum of equipment. While the final appearance is professional, the techniques are intended for the recreational woodworker, rather than the production cabinetmaker.

All finishing professionals stress the need for good surface preparation and Michael is no different. If you hate sanding, the good news is that he shows you how to minimise preparation time while still achieving a satisfactory surface.

Dents and dings are removed with water (steam) or denatured alcohol (flame). Both methods expand the cell structure to restore the surface.

Gouges and voids are filled with putty (wood filler) which Michael colours with craft acrylic paints to match the wood. Alternatively a filler can be made from the sanding dust generated when preparing the surface.

The wood is then sanded, working up through the grades and using either hand or power sanding, but always finishing with hand sanding. A methodical approach is adopted to minimise wasted effort and create a uniform, level and smooth surface in the shortest time.

With the preparation finished, Michael moves on to the application of three wipe-on finishes - wax applied with steel wool, a wipe-on oil-based polyurethane and wax over shellac. In each case the use of drying jigs ensures a smooth even finish in the shortest time.

Chris Minich applies three coats of gloss polyurethane to his work and then buffs it back to a satin sheen. He doesn’t have a spray gun so he has developed a brush technique for a professional appearance.

The final segment covers the use of spray equipment. Michael shows that anyone can make a spray booth from large cardboard boxes, though no information is provided about the fans he uses. These must be suited to the purpose to avoid ignition of the flammable vapours.

The different types of guns (conventional air, HVLP turbine and HVLP air) and their respective advantages are discussed. He then proceeds to describe spraying techniques using different guns, with the finish applied to varying surfaces such as ornate chairs and flat table tops.

At the end he demonstrates how to strip down and clean a spray gun thoroughly.

Some of the products mentioned in the DVD are not available or difficult to source in Australia and New Zealand, but similar items can be found in woodworking outlets and the better hardware stores.

Wood Finishing Basics is a practical guide to several clear finish options that the novice should be able to master without too much trouble. If you've been hesitant to finish your work or are unhappy with the results, Dresdner's approach and handy tips should impart the knowledge and confidence you need.

About the Author: Michael Dresdner is a finishing consultant and the author of The New Woodfinishing Book.

Duration: 65min

DVD - English - NTSC