Making a Difference
At a recent summer market for a local Habitat for Humanity fundraiser, I was approached by someone who made a statement about how much chemical stripper I must go through refinishing furniture. This was a great opportunity to provide a little education about my process, and I was glad to be able to show some of the tools that I use. This experience led me to think about sharing my process, what tools I use, and why.
First up is my all-purpose cleaner – It works great at taking off grime, sticky stuff, and layers of dust/dirt. Alternatively, I have used water and Dove dish detergent in the past with similar results.
Next, I use my carbide scrapers to remove finishes like lacquer and paint, which allows me to get down to the wood or veneer surface, easier, faster and cleaner than using a chemical stripper. I have used a chemical stripper in the past when needed for very small areas my tools can’t access, and it works very well. I just try to minimize how often I use it, as it has strong fumes and can be messy to clean up.
After scraping, I use my Festool sander and dust extractor to achieve a nice smooth surface while keeping dust at bay. The dust extractor has a powerful vacuum and Hepa filters with 99.97% efficiency, so I know that the air in my small shop and storefront is protected.
If I am staining a piece, I use water-based stains (or a paint wash to achieve a similar effect). Water-based stains are perfect for my type of application. They are low VOC (volatile organic compounds), which means they do not emit strong fumes, easier to breath around, and they are easy to clean with water and soap. Oil-based products on the other hand, give off fumes and must be cleaned up with mineral spirits, which when used as intended and for short periods of time are not harmful.
If I am painting a piece, I may use a water-based primer if there is a chance of bleed-through. If not, then I generally do not use a primer. I use Country Chic Paint, a family run business from British Columbia for most of my projects, as I LOVE the company’s values, dedication to being a steward of the earth, and transparency. They have nothing to hide and there is no green washing happening in their marketing; they produce outstanding products that perform VERY well and are VERY safe for people and our earth. I trust them for my safety and for the safety of my customers. For more information on Country Chic Paint and to find the third-party VOC test results on their products, click here: https://www.countrychicpaint.com/vocs-and-tds/
I will top-coat all my projects with either wax or a water-based polyurethane/polycrylic. This helps keep the piece protected and easy to dust and clean up splashes/spills.
When a piece is finished, I let it sit for at least 2 weeks (ideally 4) before I list it for sale. This is to ensure the paint and topcoats are getting the cure time needed to provide the best protection.
I often think about how to be the most people friendly and earth friendly I can be in my business, and operate accordingly. In the future I hope to be able to give back; perhaps by contributing to initiatives that plant trees, restore parks or assist in the development of clean energy.
Does environmental impact play a role in your purchase decisions? Let me know in the comments!