Canadian Woodworking

Top 10 Finishing Accessories

Along with your favourite topcoats, dyes and stains, these accessories will help make finishing your next projects easier and quicker.

  1. Card Scraper – Sanding leaves dust on your project and in the air – a bane to finishing. A card scraper, on the other hand, produces shavings. Unlike sandpaper, it will last a lifetime if properly maintained. You can go straight from the card scraper to laying on your topcoat. Note: sandpaper works better on softwoods, as a card scraper has a tendency to compress these wood fibres rather than shear them off. I like the super-hard milled scrapers from that come in four thicknesses.
  2. Paper Bags – After the final topcoat has dried you gently caress the surface of your project with your hand only to feel the tiniest of dust nibs scattered across the surface. Don’t panic. Instead, reach for a brown paper bag and gently rub out the dust nibs. The bag is just rough enough to flatten them without blemishing the surface.
  3. Cork Sanding Block – While you can use sandpaper with just your hand or wrapped around a block of wood, I like to use a cork block. It’s light in weight and with the right firmness to follow high and low spots on wood surfaces. I get mine from
  4. Coloured Putty Sticks – One of the easiest ways to con­ceal small pin or brad holes, along with scratches and gouges, is with putty sticks. The sticks come in a wide range of colours, and when applied the putty won’t shrink. You can apply any topcoat over the putty. I get mine from Dover Finishing Products at
  5. Painter’s Pyramids – I’ve only been using these for a short time, and now find them indispensable. They keep project parts off the workbench and allow you to apply finish to both sides of the proj­ect piece. Available from
  6. Linen/Cotton Rags – For a few bucks, I buy cotton bed sheets from my local thrift shop and snip them into 1′ square pieces. They’re much better than paper towels for applying stains or oil finishes, and for cleaning up.
  7. Cone Paper Filters – It’s a good idea to strain finishes that have been sitting around the shop – particularly waterborne and lacquer finishes – to remove dried finish, dust or other impurities in the finish. I use a medium mesh (about 200 microns). They’re available from paint stores or your local hardware store. Packages of 50 or 100 are the most economical.
  8. Plastic Measuring Cups – Plastic food containers are handy for short-term storage of topcoats, stains and thinners. But for mixing pigments and dyes, I use small 1-ounce graduated measur­ing cups. Available at pharmacies or in economical 25 and 100 packs from
  9. Drying Rack – If you regularly finish a lot of wood, then dry­ing racks are the way to go. They not only conserve shop space, but help to keep your stock organized and safely out of the way while drying. They’re quick and easy to make, and if space is at a premium in your shop, make racks that can be easily dismantled and stored when not needed.
  10. Finisher’s Colour Wheel – If you do much in the way of staining, a colour wheel comes in handy to help you visualize how different colours blend with each other. It’s also helpful when matching veneers for intarsia, marquetry or inlay work. The one I use from uses standard wood colours.

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Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

1 comment

  1. For years now whenever I sand between coats I’ve been using fine wet and dry paper, the black stuff, to avoid sanding dust, dipped in a small bowl of water. Although it seems to leave a bit of a cloudy film, it doesn’t show between coats and I usually finish with a thin coat of marble wax.
    Great article by the way.

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