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Shop Talk Live 10: Handplanes for a Desert Island

comments (8) July 6th, 2012 in blogs

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This week on Shop Talk Live, our editors answer your questions and dive into a conversation on workbench tech. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

This week on Shop Talk Live, our editors answer your questions and dive into a conversation on "workbench tech."

Every two weeks, a team of Fine Woodworking staffers answer questions from readers on Shop Talk Live, Fine Woodworking's biweekly podcast and video livestream. Send your woodworking questions to for consideration in the regular broadcast!

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Shop Talk Live 10: Handplanes for a Desert Island 

This week we dive head-first into a bit of workbench tech, with an update on Ed's dream bench and a whole host of tips on building your biggest hand tool. Then Mike fills us in on his "jealous" number 4 handplane and offers his feedback on an easy, durable shop floor finish.

Mike Pekovich
FWW art director

Ed Pirnik
Senior web producer

Listen to Previous Episodes

posted in: blogs, workshop, how to, WorkBench, podcast, shop talk live, finishes

Comments (8)

Gman1949 Gman1949 writes: Another great show. Please keep them coming.
Posted: 12:14 pm on August 27th

Gman1949 Gman1949 writes: I just want to say thanks for the great show. I love listening to this while I am working. I don't see how where to go to rate the program. (Not much of a computer guy.)
I hope this helps *****.
Posted: 10:54 am on July 20th

cfbloom cfbloom writes: Hey cahudson-
There are couple things I would like to add.
The company I own has manufactured litho printing ink, wood varnish, exterior wood stain, water based dispersions, UV curable, etc.
My first choice for furniture or wood finish is still Tung (chinawood), linseed, or shellac. These varnishes have been around for hundreds of years because they work.
You want to get the varnish-resin to penetrate as deeply into the wood as possible. Turpentine IS the best choice for thinning the varnish.
Dissolving polymers such as phenolic, urethane, acrylic, polyester into solvent and adding them to Tung, linseed alkyd can yield excellent results. Phenolic is used in Spar varnish, polyester & urethane in floor coatings and acrylic is used for exterior deck & siding.
Citrus solvents were priced high because the crop froze 2 winters ago, but should be coming down in price and do perform well.
If you spend hundreds of hours building a project, VOCs should not be a part of the thought process when selecting a varnish.
The technology of getting polymers into water systems is just starting to mature. It works well for printing on paper or plastic, and it may never be the best choice for a specific wood finish, but most R&D at the big coating companies is focused on improving water based systems.
The bottom line is: Use what you know works, but don't stop experimenting with "water based" varnishes.
Posted: 11:49 pm on July 14th

TLM80209 TLM80209 writes: I too, got a little lost on the terminology in this episode. A few pics would be nice, if just for reference.
Posted: 6:58 pm on July 14th

leo_in_st_louis leo_in_st_louis writes: Listening to the broadcast on a newly built workbench. would have been nice to see a picture of the bench. Or did I miss something and it's there but I just didn't know it?

Anyway, interesting podcast for me.
Posted: 11:33 am on July 14th

Tumblewoodworks Tumblewoodworks writes: I can vouch for the Sutherland Welles product. Awesome stuff. Super easy to apply and looks phenomenal!

For my wooden shop floor, I put down an oil based poly. Too slick and a hassle. As I've cleaned up glues, stains, etc, along with maintenance, I've been putting down the cheap Bullseye Shellac. I think it's a 3lb cut. Dries fast and isn't nearly as slick. Great show, guys!
Posted: 3:37 pm on July 10th

beem beem writes: Hey Ed and Mike, just wanted to comment on your brief mention of Naphtha and its potential health hazards. The most immediate danger is its flammability, which shouldn't be surprising given the most common product associated with Naphtha is lighter fluid. The long-term health risks are relatively low as long as you don't drink it, breath/sniff it, or use it as eye drops. In short, typical skin contact on the hands (brief exposures) has a very low health risk under normal conditions - wash your hands after using it.

It's one of my favorite cleaning solutions in the shop, especially with removing glue residue on my granite sharpening surfaces. I also use it frequently to clean off the grime on the body and neck of my guitars - an old Luthier trick. Works wonders on cleaning up polished surfaces and evaporates quickly.

Granted, I've got a third arm growing out of my chest, but that's proven to be quite handy... ba dum tish.

Keep up the good work, guys!
Posted: 4:57 pm on July 8th

cahudson42 cahudson42 writes: Ed and Mike,

Thanks for the great discussion on my water-based finishes question!

May I add a bit?

I think we need to distinguish between 'low VOC' and 'water based'.

My 'bug-up' about water-based is that - to get the actual finish to suspend in water - 'surfactants' (soaps) are needed to suspend the polymer. This causes major durability problems. Water hits the surface - the soaps do their job - the finish dissolves.

This is 'good' in an exterior acrylic water-based latex house paint. Keeps it looking clean, until the paint is totally washed away.

It is disasterous in a fine furniture finish.

Suggestion: When you look at a water-based finish supposedly sold for 'fine furniture' - look to see what is in it. Water-based products sold as 'laquer'. 'varnish' etc. often contain not laquer or varnish - but acrylics. Soft, latex house paint. Avoid them like the plague.

And acrylics are SOFT. Try your fingernail on them.

In short, water-based 'fine furniture' acrylic finishes are - IMHO - total junk. All of them.

The Polymerized Tung Oil low VOC finish used by Tim is, from what I understand it, a solvent based finish. Low VOC. but like turpentine, the citrus-solvent appears not to be water but plant based turpentine-like solvent. Looks neat to me! (But for $50/quart!)

I use Garrett Hacks formula: 1/3 varnish (phenolic based, Cabot, ACE, etc. (Watch Cabot! They are destroying their finishes across the board by going water-based.), 1/3 tung oil (Woodcraft), 1/3 turpentine.

And yes - I see a difference between Turpentine and Mineral Spirits. Use turpentine.

Stock up while you can.

Posted: 7:35 pm on July 6th

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Fine Woodworking magzine's biweekly podcast, Shop Talk Live, allows editors, authors, and special guests to answer your woodworking questions and connect with the online woodworking community.