Workbench Weekly eTip

Archive for September, 2007

Staining Wood: End Grain Vs. Face Grain

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

When it comes to staining wood, one all-too-common problem is ending up with end grain that’s darker than the face grain of a board.

The simple reason for this starts at your saw blade. Crosscutting wood always leaves a rougher surface on the end grain. And when you stain this rougher surface, it inevitably retains more of the color.

So the easiest solution is to sand the end grain more thoroughly than the face grain. In the two examples at above left, the end grain and face grain of the lower board were sanded the same, through 180-grit. But the end grain on the upper board was sanded more thoroughly with each grit, and then received a final pass with 220-grit before being stained.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers
Online Editor
Workbench Magazine

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Ebonized Finish Made Easy

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Ebonized finishes have become quite popular today. Often created with aniline dye, ebonizing creates a black finish that allows the wood grain to show through.

The only drawbacks to ebonizing are that the dye can be messy and expensive. But you can achieve a similar finish using common spray paint and a simple burnishing technique.

This “ebonizing” technique works best with open-grain woods like oak, walnut, and ash. These woods have large pores that allow the paint to soak into the grain. So if you’re interested in this technique, choose wood with this in mind. (We used oak for the “floating” shelves shown here.)

Ebonizing Technique – After sanding the surfaces, use compressed air to blow the dust out of the grain (Fig. 1). If you don’t have an air gun, a shop vacuum will also work well.

Once that’s done, finishing the shelves only requires a can of semi-flat spray paint (I used Krylon Black #1613), synthetic steel wool (like a Scotch-Brite pad), and a paper towel (see Figs. 2-4 below).

After sanding the wood with 180-grit sandpaper, use an air gun to blow dust out of the open grain. Hold the can perpendicular to the wood, and spray on 2 to 4 coats until the pores are filled.
When it dries, rub the paint with ultra-fine synthetic steel wool to create a smooth, even sheen. Making a final pass with a paper towel will clean up any dust and “burnish” the paint.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers
Online Editor
Workbench Magazine

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Slippery Stairs? Here’s a Non-Skid Solution

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Natural wood stairs look great, but they can be slippery to walk on in socks. To avoid this hazard, you can use a “non-skid” finish as a topcoat on stair treads.

No-Skid Compound — The key ingredient in this finish is “Intergrip No-Skid Compound” from Interlux. It’s available through Jamestown Distributors for about $9 per half-pint can (800-497-0010;

This compound is a marine-grade product that’s mixed with paint to add extra grip to boat decks, docks, and other slippery surfaces. It looks like common table sugar and is nothing more than fine plastic beads that produce a textured surface.

Applying the Finish — To create your own non-skid finish, start by finishing the stair treads like you usually would. I used stain and four coats of a water-based floor finish. Then, mix a small amount of the compound with a pint of the same finish (Photo, below left). This amount of Intergrip is actually less than what’s recommended for marine applications, but it’s plenty for this job. This creates a non-skid surface without obscuring the wood.

After mixing the finish and non-skid compound, simply brush it onto the treads (Photo, below right). Only apply it to the center portion of each tread (where people will walk), and use painter’s tape to establish a fine line between the non-skid and the surrounding finish.

First, pour a half-tablespoon of the no-skid compound into a pint of finish, and mix thoroughly. Then brush the finish onto the part of the tread that gets walked on. Painter’s tape creates a clean line.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers
Online Editor
Workbench Magazine

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (11 votes, average: 4.73 out of 5)
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Simple Supports Help Hang Drywall

Friday, September 7th, 2007

Hanging drywall on a ceiling is always a struggle. And this is especially true if I’m working by myself.

So I use 2×4 supports to give me a “hand” and hold the sheet at ceiling height. You simply slide the drywall onto the supports like sliding a cookie sheet onto an oven rack. Then insert wedges between the supports and the drywall to push the sheet snugly up against the joists while you screw it in place.

Each pair of 2x4s that spans the room is lapped and screwed together. A vertical 2×4 props each support in the middle. Two supports are located near the ends of the sheet. A middle support prevents sagging and holds half-sheets (Illustration, below). The ends of the supports are attached to wall studs under the top plate. This spacing creates an opening for the drywall and wedges, and it gives you a little “elbow room” for tipping and sliding in the sheet to reduce the risk of breakage (Fig. 1).

With the sheet of drywall suspended on the supports, you can easily raise it to the ceiling and hold it there with wedges made of scrap 2×4 (Fig. 2).

When you’ve screwed the sheet to the joists, just move on to the next section, and repeat the process to hang drywall across the entire ceiling.

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