7 Steps to a Museum Finish


I’ve written how it’s important to think about finishing early in the game – as early as when you begin to select material. If you build with lumber that is harvested from the same tree, your ability to achieve a uniform color throughout the project is greatly enhanced. But for many of us, purchasing sets of matching lumber or an entire log is out of reach. As a result, our furniture parts have different color, porousness and figure.

(Fig. 1) Finish on some pieces, such as my tea table, is worth more time and effort. Achieving a museum finish is not difficult if you evaluate your progress each step along the way.

If you finish using regular methods and products, you’re going to end up with a piece of furniture that continues to show many of those differences. Who wants that? In fact, there are many projects on which you want more than a “regular” finish – important projects that are worth more time and effort. I’m about to share with you a few tips and techniques that will push your finishing capabilities to a new level. If you’ve visited a museum, you’ve seen the finish I’m talking about. It’s smooth and mellow, as if it’s had hundreds of years of care.

In seven simple steps, you’ll move your project from “newly built” to “museum ready.” You’ll discover how to transform mismatched woods with mismatched colors to a finish that’s more uniform in color, smooth and shows a bit of age. The secret is to evaluate the project at each step and to apply only what needs to be applied to make the finish better.

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4 thoughts on “7 Steps to a Museum Finish

  1. Chuck, your best two videos yet!(not that the others were bad either) Bravo for walking through the “cooks” method of a pinch of this and a pinch of that to get the colors just right. A great insight. I really liked the how to of the pinched corners. That’s really neat. Maybe I’m a backwoods kinda guy, but I’ve never seen those before but they are ingenious and actually added to the moldings.

    Great topics and content and great presentation. Keep these coming.

    Bob from VT

    1. Bob,

      Thanks for the kind words about the videos. Most of the pieces I’ve made were finished in this manner. I’ve seldom found a piece where I didn’t need to adjust something in order to make it blend. Filling the pores in this manner is something I’ve done to a lesser degree simply because of the time involved and due to the fact that not all woods need filling.

      The pinched, or cloven, corners is a detail you can find on chests and mirrors (or looking glasses, if you prefer) as well as a few other pieces, but I think they look best on tea tables.

      There’s more to come.

  2. This finishing video is awesome, a great nugget every few minutes and it’s a process that I’m excited to explore. And I love the “dedicated grunge brush”. Priceless! Thanks so much,


    1. Doug,

      Glad you got something useful from the video. And doesn’t everyone have a dedicated grunge brush?

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