Eye Diy

Finishing Tips from the Bluenose II

By May 29th, 2009

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What finish do you put on an iconic schooner such as the Bluenose II? Something called “helmsman,” obviously!

The folks at Minwax are promoting their Helmsman spar urethane with contest that could get you a trip aboard the Bluenose II itself in Lunenburg, N.S. To get a ballot, check out participating retail stores.

And, to top if off, here are Minwax’s top 10 tips for a perfect wood finish:

1. Safety first

Different products require different methods of application, tools and drying times. Take a moment to read the instructions and always be it safe. Wear protective gloves and safety glasses, and work in a well-ventilated area when using oil-based products.

The mast of the Bluenose II

2. Know the characteristics of your wood

Particleboard absorbs too much stain, veneers sometimes not enough. Paint-grade woods are lower quality than stain-grade woods. In short, ask questions and learn what to expect from any wood you buy.

3. Don’t skip the sanding

Sanding isn’t always fun, but scratches and nicks absorb more stain and finish than smooth wood does; hence, these imperfections will stand out more when stained. Start sanding with a coarse-grit paper then move to medium and end with fine.

4. Use pre-stain wood conditioner

Wood pores are irregular and a pre-stain wood conditioner can reduce the likelihood of blotchiness when these irregular pores absorb the stain you apply.

5. Test first to avoid surprises

Wood is unpredictable, so test your stain colour on an inconspicuous spot before you start staining the most visible parts of your project.

6. Stirred, not shaken

Some ingredients in both stains and finishes settle over time, but shaking will only add unwanted bubbles and may not mix the ingredients thoroughly. Always stir until all settlement is dispersed evenly.

7. Choose a quality applicator

Inexpensive foam brushes are fine for applying pre-stain wood conditioner and wood-finish stains, but when it comes to applying the final top coat, use a good-quality bristle brush or good-quality high-density foam brush.

8. Selecting the right finish

Top coat products are formulated for different applications. Use Minwax Helmsman spar urethane to protect wood projects that will be exposed to sun and moisture such as doors, windows, bathroom cabinets, bar tops, kitchen countertops and outdoor furniture.

9. Clean, dry and scuffed

Before recoating an existing finish, make sure the old finish has been cleaned of any oils and wax, has had time to dry and has been scuffed lightly with fine 220-grit sandpaper so that the new finish has something to grip.

Minwax Helmsman

10. Eliminate dust

Dust is the No. 1 enemy of a smooth finish. To eliminate dust, vacuum it off of your project and workbench rather than brushing or blowing it into the air where it can settle back onto your project. Also, be sure to use a damp cloth or, when using oil-based finishes, use a tack cloth as a final cleanup on the wood before staining or applying the top coat.

Got any other finishing tips? Let us know in the comments section. The best tipper will win a 236 mL can of, you guessed it, Minwax Helmsman spar urethane.

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