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Perfecting Your Finished Woodworkings

Jan 4, 2008
There are numerous techniques and materials which may be employed to add character and individuality to any scrap wood projects. The possibilities are limited only by the interest and ability of the group and the working time available. We shall consider two of these methods which can be readily adapted to individual or group shop programs.

Applying Designs With Wood Burner

An electric needle or wood burner may be used to produce interesting designs on any wood surface. This technique is particularly useful for outlining figures, letters, or designs which are applied to a light wood surface. As an alternative, the background may be shaded with lines or stippled to emphasize the outline of the figure or design.

It is well for the child to practice on a piece of scrap wood before attempting to use the wood burner on his project. After allowing ample time for the instrument to "heat up," the wood burner should be held as one would hold a pencil, and guided slowly over the lines of the design or figure.

Only a minimum of pressure should be required to produce a sharp line. Using too much pressure may result in gouging of the wood surface or distortion of the line, since the point of the wood burner tends to follow the grain of the wood.

The use of wood burners is not recommended for groups of young children, and it requires careful supervision by the instructor.

Simple Methods For Applying Color

When working time is limited, it is often impractical to use oil paints and enamels to color projects, particularly if more than one color is required. Quick-drying lacquers may be adapted to this purpose, but children frequently find them difficult to work with.

Colored pencils moistened with water may be used effectively to color small areas within a design or figure which is to be applied to a natural wood surface. Care must be taken that only the tip of the pencil is immersed in water to minimize running or spreading of the colors. When thoroughly dry, the surface should be given a protective coat of shellac, which may be applied lightly with a soft brush or from a pressurized spray dispenser.

Wax crayons can be applied directly to natural wood surfaces. After the coloring is completed, a coat of shellac or clear varnish will give the surface a glossy protective finish.

Felt marking pencils offer a third method for applying color to small designs or figures. These pencils consist of a cartridge of quick-drying ink which feeds a small felt tip. Since the unit is entirely self-contained, the hazards of dripping and spilling are completely eliminated. Felt marking pencils are available in a number of primary colors and are excellent for outlining figures and lettering.

Whenever a very fine sharp line is required for outlining or lettering, India ink may be used to good advantage. It is best applied with a narrow-tipped lettering pen, with quick strokes used to minimize spreading of the lines. Each time the pen point is dipped in the ink it should be tested on a scrap of paper to prevent a blot on the wood surface.

A flat finish in a solid color may be obtained with rubber base paints. These are available in a number of pastel shades and are water soluble. Rubber base paint dries in about thirty minutes, and children find it easy to work with.

Any of these techniques will greatly enhance the finished project.
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