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Marc Adams School of Woodworking Classes

2017 Wood Finishing and Restoration Classes at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking
DATE: April 3 – 7
July 31 – August 4
October 23 – 27
Hands-on Finishing with Mitch Kohanek 1 Hands-on Finishing with Mitch Kohanek 2 Hands-on Finishing with Mitch Kohanek 3 Hands-on Finishing with Mitch Kohanek 4

This five day hands-on finishing class is designed to help students understand what finishing schedule is best for their projects. The goal is to learn what it takes to create a beautiful, lasting, finish through a variety of finishing systems, which systems include changing the color of wood with dyes, stains, toners, and glazing techniques. Everyone will have the opportunity to apply finishing systems of their choice to their assigned lab projects, and students are encouraged to bring small projects to finish during the week. A majority of this class will be in the finish shop and not in the classroom. However, everyone will have enough classroom time to learn how to accurately apply finishes with predictable results. Students will learn to use hand rub finishes such as a Shellac, French polish, brush on finishes as well as using spraying equipment. Once the coatings have been applied, adjusting the sheen using rub out techniques, and how to maintain your coating will be demonstrated. Mitch will teach how to solve common problems and fix finishing defects such as blotching, orange peel, brush marks, and fish eye and how to achieve the ultimate finish. There will also be an introduction to the basics of color matching. Anyone who works with wood and enjoys its beauty will benefit from this class.

Key Points:

  • Six steps for a perfect finish
  • Customize a wood finishing system for you
  • Understand wood as a material
  • The cabinet scraper and proper wood preparation
  • Techniques for coloring wood
  • How to choose which finish to use
  • Pre-conditioners, sealers and grain pore fillers
  • Deal with open, semi-open and closed pored woods
  • Rub out and finish the finish


DATE: April 8 – 9
Shellac The Forgotten Finish with Mitch Kohanek 1 Shellac The Forgotten Finish with Mitch Kohanek 2 Shellac The Forgotten Finish with Mitch Kohanek 3 Shellac The Forgotten Finish with Mitch Kohanek 4

This could be the best finishing class of the entire year: shellac, the most attractive, safe and versatile finishing system for the majority of your finishing needs. Other than a heavily used table top or in high humidity areas, shellac has no equal. Think about this basic finishing question: What do you want your project to look like, and exactly what kind of protection does your project really need? Sometimes beauty can and should outweigh protection. No other coating can give you the unmistakable look that shellac offers or the versatility of the many ways it can be incorporated into your finishing system. In addition, it is the safest hypoallergenic coating you can use, and if you use the correct denatured alcohol, it the most “green” coating you can find today. Do you want your project to escape time? No coating can match shellac in aged beauty or stability and longevity. Have you ever had to repair a damaged coating? Shellac is totally repairable. Students will use shellac straight from the hardware store as well as make their own shellac from scratch. You will learn to rag it on with a French polish, brush and/or spray it. We will change its color and even make shellac paint. Master finishers all agree, once you learn how to deal with the idiosyncrasies of this forgotten finish, it will change the way you view the finishing of wood.

Key Points:

  • Choosing the right shellac for your project
  • Learning a quick and easy way to mix shellac
  • Choosing the right brush or spraying equipment
  • Learning various French polishing methods
  • Making shellac paint to create dramatic effects
  • Changing the color of shellac with dyes and pigments
  • Manipulating shellac to create


DATE: May 15 – 19

This is a hands-on workshop which allows students the opportunity to be introduced to furniture restoration/refinishing on the wooden objects they bring in. Every wooden object is unique and so are its problems. This class will teach students how to restore their furniture as well as total refinishing. Each piece of furniture brought in will have its own refinishing/restoration plan which means a variety of things to learn from each other’s projects. Knowledge begins with getting the object structurally sound with re-gluing and repairing. Next is how to examine the condition of the coating to decide if some gentle solvent cleaning and re-coating is possible. If not, learning how to decide which furniture stripper is needed to totally remove the existing coating. Once the piece has been stripped it then needs surface preparation, coloring and a new coat of finish. Demonstrations and discussions of spot repair will also be covered. If you want to learn the basics of the craft of furniture restoration/refinishing, this class is for you. Note: The class is not limited to finishing old furniture. If you don’t have antiques to restore/refinish, bring some of your unfinished projects instead.

Key Points:

  • Gluing techniques
  • Repairing techniques
  • Restoring old finishes back to life
  • Re-finishing furniture for a new look
  • Spot repairing water rings and scratches


DATE: May 20 (Sat)

Figurative woods look great with clear coatings, but what will make those figurative woods “pop” with color? In this class students will work with coloring agents that will add depth and metamerism (or chatoyance) to figurative woods. Using natural and synthetic dyes, oils and chemicals used on figurative woods like bird’s eye maple and tiger maple will “pop” those figures with color. Another key component is using the correct coatings to magnify the depth of that figure. For semi-diffuse and ring porous woods there are a variety of color combinations and materials to decorate those pores, making attractive and different visual presentations. Color-on-color techniques are easy and fun ways to create colors that can’t be obtained any other way.

Key Points:

  • Magnify the beauty of figurative woods
  • Learn about the coloring agents used
  • Learn what coatings are used
  • Color-on-color techniques
  • Color striking open pored woods
  • Create your own color system


DATE: May 21 (Sun)

What does it mean to “rub” out that last coat of shellac, lacquer, varnish, urethane or water base finish? There are two points important to obtaining a rubbed out finish. First, how does the coating feel? It should have a nice smooth finish that is pleasing to the hand. Secondly, is how to create a desired sheen? The sheen is the amount of light reflecting from the surface that is pleasing to the eye. Sheen is usually described with terms such as high gloss, semi-gloss, satin, flat and dead flat. There is a way to actually measure the sheen and give those terms a number: 80 sheen being high gloss and 10 being very dull. Certain abrasive papers are used to achieve these numbers/terms with dry and wet sanding. Steel wool, synthetic steel wood, pumice, rottenstone, rubbing compounds are all options from which to choose. Wax and polishes are also choices to be considered using for the “finishing of the finish”. Students are encouraged to bring to class several finished flat panels with cured coatings to be rubbed out during the workshop. (Make sure these samples have at least a one month cure time on them.)

Key Points:

  • Learn how to “level” the surface
  • Create a smooth feeling finish
  • How to adjust the sheen of the finish
  • Dry sanding vs. wet sanding
  • Open pore texture and pore filled texture rub outs
  • High-gloss buffing techniques
  • Wax vs. polishes


DATE: August 5 – 6

With spot repair skills, students are able to learn the basics of repairing nicks, dents and scratches in wood and wood coatings. This class also includes larger repairs such as crushed corners, missing pieces of veneer, damage done by the family pet, water rings, chemical spills, heat damage and a host of other types of damage. Color matching is an important component to the procedure so time will be spent understanding color theory. In-painting/graining will also be covered in order to create a small faux finish on the repairs. This is a beginning course and repairs will be performed on some wood panels that have been finished with lacquer. Students should purchase or bring a spot repair kit (around $340).

Key Points:

  • Repairing minor damages to wood and wood coatings
  • Polyester fills for larger damages
  • Coating identification
  • Color matching
  • Imprinting techniques for faux finishing on your repair
  • How to “deluxe” furniture


DATE: August 12 (Sat)

There are many rules for woodworking; rules for squaring a board and sharpening a cabinet scraper — but what about the rules of finishing? In this one day class Tim will share his ten rules of finishing that will help students become a better finisher. The class will feature a combination of lecture and hands-on demonstrations so students can experience the finishing rules first hand. Everyone will take home several finish samples along with a set of finishing exercises to improve their skills. This class has useful information that can be put to work right away. Remember the last step in furniture making is to “finish” the project.

Key Points:

  • When building furniture, start at the finish
  • Get better finishes by spending less time sanding
  • The perfect color is probably not in one can
  • Make finish samples to build your confidence ; don’t experiment on your projects
  • Finishing the finish makes your work stand out


DATE: August 13 (Sun)

French polishing is a skill that is hard to learn from reading a book or watching a video. It is best learned from an instructor who has mastered the craft. Tim will demonstrate not one but three different methods of French polishing. The first is the method traditionally described in books and magazine articles using shellac and oil. The second method uses waxy shellac and a special technique to create the French polished look. The third method is a cousin to French polishing called French padding that furniture restorers use to revive finishes. For students that make Federal furniture, decorative boxes or items for everyday use, French polishing is a good way to give any piece a WOW factor.

Key Points:

  • Prepping wood for French polishing
  • Building a full pore filled, glass smooth finish
  • Why a French polish has a deep lustrous finish
  • Using French polish to revive old finishes


DATE: August 28 – September 1
Upholstery From Webbing to Springs to Show Covers with Mike Mascelli 1 Upholstery From Webbing to Springs to Show Covers with Mike Mascelli 2 Upholstery From Webbing to Springs to Show Covers with Mike Mascelli 3

Students will learn the history of upholstery as well as the fundamental tools, techniques and materials needed for the completion of their own full-size upholstery project along side of master upholster Mike Mascelli. Students will be REQUIRED to submit photos of their proposed piece(s) to Mike prior to the class to insure that they are appropriate for a one week format. It will also give Mike a chance to assess what prep work needs to be done prior to class, and to get an estimate of the amount of material needed for the show cover. All under-upholstery materials will be included in the supply fee; however students must provide their own show cover fabric. There is no pre-requisite, and students can expect to learn all of the steps required to complete their piece. Mike will set up a complete upholstery shop with workstations, air staplers, a cutting table, glue-up area and provide a review of all basic upholstery techniques. Sewing machine operation will NOT be part of the instruction; however pieces which need small amounts of machine sewing work will be sewn by Mike as necessary. After measuring and designing a treatment for each project, students will spend most of the week in an open shop format, with a full class wrap-up session at the end of each day. Pieces of any style, including original designs are acceptable, but all must have a sound frame, and show wood surfaces that are finished. Small to medium sized chairs with tight seats and backs are ideal. Chairs with loose cushions, such as small wing chairs, can be included but may not be fully completed in one week.

Key Points:

  • Learn the history and language of the upholstery trade
  • Learn how to design an upholstery treatment
  • Learn how to measure a piece to be upholstered
  • Install proper webbing and hand tie the springs, or install zig-zag springs
  • Create a professional upholstery foundation
  • Install the show cover and trimming to complete your piece
  • Learn how to blind stitch and hand-close seams


DATE: September 16 – 17

Have you ever wondered how those cane seat chairs you grew up with were made? You know the ones: they look like honeycombs in shape with big holes all over the seat? How did they do all that intricate lace type weaving and what makes them strong enough to sit on? Or maybe you’ve sat in one of those big old porch cane rockers with the woven seat and backs and marveled at how comfortable they were to sit in? Want to learn how to supplement your retirement income, furniture making or refinishing business by offering chair seat weaving, but are afraid to try? Well, here’s your chance to test the waters and learn all about the two most popular and traditional types of chair caning techniques. On day one students will try their hands at hole-to-hole, hand, or strand chair caning — woven right through the holes drilled in the stool frame. Then on Sunday everyone will weave the porch cane footstool, woven with wider binding cane and go “over the rails,” making a twill or herringbone design on both the top and bottom of the seat. Cathryn will dispel the mystery of chair seat weaving by presenting a lively discussion and brief chair seating history session each day. She’ll qualify the terminology, show several variations to each type of seat weaving and concentrate on these two basic and fundamental patterns and materials. Most folks call all types of woven chair seats “chair caning,” for lack of a better term. But as you’ll learn from this class, chair caning is only one aspect of the chair seat weaving craft.

Key Points:

  • Learn the history of this nearly lost art of chair seat weaving
  • Identify the various chair seat designs
  • Make the right material selections for the job
  • Learn how to prepare the chairs and materials prior to weaving
  • Layout techniques and execution of the two variations of weaving designs and patterns
  • Using common and special tools to learn tricks of the trade
  • Learn how to calculate charges for repairs; how to drum up business
  • Finishes for chair seating; what to do and what not to do


DATE: September 23 – 24
Fine Finishing with Common Hardware Store Materials with Tim Puro 2 Fine Finishing with Common Hardware Store Materials with Tim Puro 3 Fine Finishing with Common Hardware Store Materials with Tim Puro 4 Fine Finishing with Common Hardware Store Materials with Tim Puro 5

Does fine finishing require exotic materials and expensive spray equipment? Absolutely not! If you understand the properties of these hardware store materials, you can finish like a pro: Zinnser seal coat universal sanding sealer, aerosol gloss spray lacquers, Minwax golden oak and Minwax Puritan pine stains, Old Masters heavy-bodied cedar and dark walnut stains, Old Masters grain filler natural, and Red Devil lye and roofing tar. Over a period of two days, Tim will help you master these conventional (and unconventional) finishing materials to produce professional looking finishes for cherry, walnut, mahogany, and even birch plywood. While the material list is short, Tim will show you how to skillfully use these products to create multi-step, professional looking finishes. Students will spend the majority of their time in the finishing shop, applying stains and dyes to sample boards to create finishes that are rich and deep looking. At the end of the weekend, students will leave with sample finishes for birch, cherry, walnut and pine that look fabulous, and even more importantly, they will acquire the skills to participate in the finishing process, not just observe the results. As for the roofing tar and lye secret, you will have to sign up for the class to learn what that is all about!

Key Points:

  • A system to experiment with finishes
  • How to mix your own stains to get the colors you want
  • Applying shellac with a golden Taklon brush. (You get to keep the brush!)
  • How to get spray gun results from an aerosol can
  • Why yellow dye is a finisher’s best friend


DATE: September 25 – 29
Coloring and Finishing Wood with Water-Based Products with David Smith 1 Coloring and Finishing Wood with Water-Based Products with David Smith 3 Coloring and Finishing Wood with Water-Based Products with David Smith 4 Coloring and Finishing Wood with Water-Based Products with David Smith 5

Often we hear people say, “I’ve tried water-based finish and it’s terrible?” Most craftspeople today are interested in trying water based finishes, but don’t know where to start which leads to frustration. Don’t give up! The process is easy and MUCH safer than what is common for today’s woodworker. Students will spend an entire week using several types of finishes and techniques all centered on these low-odor, non-flammable products. David will start the week by demonstrating how to color wood using water based dyes and pigments then show how to mix water based toners, glazes and fillers, for some very attractive finishes. During the week students will be able to try a variety of different water based products that are on the market today, and experience their differences. Water based finishes can be applied with brushes, pads, and a variety of different spray guns. Finally David will demonstrate how to get great tactile and visual qualities with several different rubbing techniques. Finishing with water based coatings is very different from lacquers, shellacs, and varnishes, but with the EPA crack downs, those familiar solvent based finishes are going by the way side. Now would be a perfect time to get ahead of the curve and experience the potential of “safe” water based products — you might be surprised!

Key Points:

  • How to prepare the surface for water based finishes
  • How to mix dyes and stains and the differences between them
  • A good blend of hand and power tools for finishing
  • How to choose the right finish for the job
  • How to combine water based finishes with old school technique to achieve a great look


DATE: September 30 (Sat)
Spray Finishing with David Smith 1 Spray Finishing with David Smith 2 Spray Finishing with David Smith 3 Spray Finishing with David Smith 4

Spray finishing can be a very fun, fast, and rewarding way to apply almost any finish. In this one day class, David will explain the fundamentals of spray finishing. By the end of the day, students will be able to decide which spray system is best for their needs. He will discuss and demonstrate turbine, compressed air, and air-assisted airless systems. David will also discuss the challenges of spraying dyes, lacquers, varnishes, and waterborne finishes, while going over set up, safety, exhausting, and overspray. Students are encouraged to bring their own spray equipment, and David will help diagnose any finishing problems with your set up. After this class students will be well on track to achieve “the” ultimate finish.

Key Points:

  • Which spray system is right for you
  • How to solve spraying problems
  • How to spray different finishes correctly
  • How to exhaust properly
  • How to get a great “off the gun” finish


DATE: October 28 – 29

This is a two day class where students will have some fun being introduced to decorative finishes that are way beyond making wood look just brown and shiny. These techniques will allow students to use inexpensive wood or even MDF board to create an attractive finish. Crackled finishes, distressed finishes, aging painted surfaces, ebonizing, pickling, fuming, color on color and decorative fills are examples of what can be accomplished. Bring some small projects to decorate and have fun finishing in ways you never thought possible.

Key Points:

  • Have fun using simple but unique finishing techniques
  • Use inexpensive building materials
  • Achieve an expensive and creative appearance
  • Create a custom look of your own

For information about the Marc Adams School of Woodworking and class registration, check out their website: