I hope you’ve had a good week since we last met here. I don’t know where the time goes, but I know where I’ll be on Saturday. I should have been up in Derbyshire giving a demo of Chestnut Products, but we’re taking it online instead and I’ll be seeing the Derbyshire Dales Woodcraft Club on Zoom instead. I know some of the club will be reading this, I’m looking forward to seeing you online. And if you’ve got any questions for me, maybe you’ll see them included here next week.
But let’s get to this week’s questions first…

I’ve got a question for you to start with this week. Any idea what a clapper is? Me neither. And nor did Graham, who has been asked to make one. It’s a device used to help iron seams etc flat. They are popular with tailors, seamstresses and anyone who takes their ironing seriously!
The real question connected to this was about the best finish to use on one. The intended use of the item means that it’s going to be subjected to high temperatures and probably also steam. It’s a big ask of any finish to stand up to these conditions, and there’s always going to be a danger that anything used on it could get damaged and transfer onto the garment being ironed. So, much as I hate to admit defeat, I think that the best option on this is to leave it without a finish. I’d sand it to a very fine grade and just allow the wood itself to shine.
If you’re really interested in seeing a clapper in use here’s a video. (Worth watching as, like me, you’ve probably got the wrong idea about it!)

Finishing MDF is another topic that comes up from time to time, and this week I was asked about using our Spirit Stain to colour it. This is possible, the stain will work with MDF; as you might expect, it soaks in very well! The main problem is that the stains are translucent, so the colour of the timber or substrate will affect the final colour of the stain. MDF sucks the brightness out of the stains, leaving you with a slightly murky looking colour. In this case my caller was using one of the wood stains, so this wasn’t so much of an issue for them, and the item they were making was extremely temporary. Finishing it was also a problem, and because of time limits, and knowing what they had to hand, we suggested that the Hard Wax Oil might be their best bet. It’s thick enough that it shouldn’t soak into the MDF straight away and for what they were making (a table top for a large group that would be discarded after one use) it should do the job. I did suggest a table cloth, but my caller couldn’t find one big enough!

Finally this week, can Acrylic Lacquer be sprayed through an air brush? Yes, it can, although it will almost certainly need to be thinned down to be able to be delivered through the air brush. For Acrylic Lacquer, water is the material to use to thin it, so that’s easy. Use as little as possible, acrylics don’t like to be over-thinned. And, importantly, try not to mix up more than you plan to use. It can, of course, be stored for later use, but there’s always a danger that the water introduced to it could go stagnant, making the lacquer unpleasant to use at best, and impossible to use at worst.

As I mentioned last week, all of the major woodworking shows have been cancelled for the rest of the year (we’re still hoping to proceed with the Woodturning Weekender, it’s just not in the ‘major’ league!). At the time, the postponement of Makers Central hadn’t been officially announced, but just in case you haven’t heard, this too has succumbed. So, if you’re missing your demo fix don’t forget we’ve got the wonderful Gary Lowe coming up for us in Conkers LIVE on 14 July. Here’s a quick film from Gary to let you know what to expect.

I hope you’ve found something in the above of interest, and I’ll be back again next week with more Q&A and a link to Gary’s demo as well. I’ll see you then!