A Weekend of Woodfinishing in Tennessee

A couple weekends ago I spent a delightful time with the Cumberland Furniture Guild in the Franklin, Tennessee shop of our host Len Reinhardt. On Saturday afternoon I gave two lectures, one on The H.O. Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench, and the other introducing the topic of pre-industrial finishing materials and techniques.


The real fun began on Sunday morning as we conducted a hands-on workshop on the topic with lots of, well, hands on work on raw mahogany plywood panels. I provided the brushes and shellac, with information (hectoring) about the quality of materials and tools.


Each participant was able to execute a completed panel of brushed-and-burnished lemon shellac, and one with a molten wax finish applied over a polissoir-burnished surface. Even these two very basic finishes are pushing the time envelope for what can be accomplished in a one-day workshop. Normally I make this a three-day event but we did what we could in that one day.


Brushing began in earnest as I was trying to stay one step head of them.


Once the brushing was done we moved on to molten beeswax finishes.


The first step is to get the beeswax deposited onto the surface,


Then to distribute it evenly throughout.  Once that is done the panel is set aside for the wax to cool and harden.


I was delighted to welcome my friend Dave Reeves from Knoxville to provide instruction on using asphalt as a toning material (it is one of the basic historical methods for darkening the surface) and padding on shellac spirit varnish.


There was intense interest in watching him do this simple but elegant finish.  I used to do a lot of padded finishes, but in recent years my projects have taken me more into the burnished brushed finish world.


But there is no doubt that a well padded surface is eye popping.


We then returned to burnishing the brushed shellac finish with 0000 Liberon steel wool and paste wax, continuing until they just got tired of rubbing.


With the molten beeswax cooled all that was left was to gently scrape it smooth then polish it out with a soft cloth.

Like I said this is a topic I normally cover in three days to explore it more fully, and it happens I will be doing just that June 20-22 here at The Barn. Normally I give shorter workshops over the weekend but am trying this Monday-Wednesday schedule by request, so we will see how that goes. If you are interested in joining in, drop me a note here.