Water-based finishes have long promised fast drying time, low odor, easy cleanup, and nonflammability. But they have a checkered past. Early versions were hard to apply and gave many woods a cold, dead look. However, today’s formulations match the clarity, hardness, and durability of most, if not all, of the solvent-based clear-coat cousins that they are increasingly replacing. In this article, Jeff Weiss, founder of a company that makes water-based finishes, sheds some light on their history, describes the increasingly sophisticated science behind them, and gives some tips on how to apply them. From Fine Woodworking #194
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