Finishing Class July 2013


Marc Adams and Mitch Kohanek talk before the start of class

I just finished five days as a teacher’s assistant in a hands on finishing class for woodworkers.  The class was taught by my mentor, Mitch Kohanek, a finishing and furniture restoration expert with 35 years of teaching experience at the National Institute of Wood Finishing.  The class was held at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, just south of Indianapolis.  MASW is the largest woodworking school in the country and is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year.

Some describe this five day finishing class as “drinking from a fire hose”.


Want to know more about dyes, stains, dye/stains, wash coating, toning, glazing and French polishing and touch up thrown in for good measure?  This is the class for you.   I took my first furniture touch up/spot repair class from Mitch at the Marc Adams school in 2002.  After years of study I was fortunate to be accepted as an assistant for the finishing classes and four years ago I was hired to teach classes at the school.

July-13-Bjorn-french-polish-1024x768Here is a quick gallery of the student’s work with only five days instruction.  Here is a French polished document box lid, finished with a linen pad and shellac. Bjorn first smoothed the box lid using a mixture of shellac, oil and pumice, creating a slurry that filled the open grain of the walnut.  Then he applied multiple thin coats of shellac using just the right touch to create a highly polished, formal look.  The box lid was finished in less than an hour and the results were spectacular!

July-13-pine-door-cherry-finish-flash-768x1024Shown left is a pine cabinet door, skillfully finished by Scott with a cherry dye toner applied with a spray guy to create a uniform color without the blotching that so often comes with staining pine. Scott created a rich look on an inexpensive wood. 

Soctts-name-plate-croppedScott’s cherry nameplate was treated with lye to give the wood a deep warm brown color, then shellacked followed by a decorative fill to highlight the laser engraved lettering.


A Seattle Seahawks fan and Mark-with-Seahawks-marquetryintern at the Marc Adams School, “Mark with a K”, dressed up a marquetry panel he made by spraying blue dye on the edges of the board.  Most of the finishing done in the class was performed on 6″ x 12″ samples.  The goal was not to finish furniture but rather learning finishing techniques that you can apply in your own shop on your own furniture.

Finally, a mother/daughter finishing team in our finishing class and asked to have their picture taken with Mitch and me.


I will be assisting Dave Smith in his five day hands-on finishing class at Marc Adams Sept 30 through October 4th.  Dave is a graduate of Mitch’s program at the Institute.  He is a skilled finisher who likes to tackle big projects, like on-site refinishing of conference tables that seat 20 or refurbishing wood paneling in a three story atrium.  I always look forward to spending time with Dave and I will have a post after our week together.

The week following Dave’s class, I will teach a five day Furniture Refinishing, Restoration and Repair class at Marc Adams with my associate Peter Brockman.  I have seen some of the projects the students are bringing and there should be some great before and after pictures to post!