Two More Glazing Techniques : Stringing & Banding

Using colored glazes, you can replicate some of the decorative veneer borders found on fine furniture. June 24, 2005

Reprinted with permission from Custom Woodworking Business Magazine.

Using colored glazes, you can replicate some of the decorative veneer borders found on fine furniture.
By Mac Simmons

Over the years, I have written several finishing articles in CWB about using color glazes to produce different finishes. Because glazing is so important in finishing, has so many interesting applications and is so versatile, I want to introduce readers to yet another unique technique that can be done with colored glazes, namely, stringing and banding.

This article will explain how you can create your own faux stringing, i.e., thin lines of inlay found on high-end furniture for decorative ornamentation, and faux banding, decorative veneer borders found on classic fine furniture. These novel finishing techniques are worth learning, practicing and adding to your finishing arsenal. Besides being able to incorporate them into your own pieces, you never know when you may be asked to restore or reproduce these faux decorative veneer inlays for a valued customer.

Where to Start
As always, I recommend you make up complete start-to-finish samples, including the final clearcoats. Your wood should be sanded and clean, free from any sanding dust.

Start your sample by applying a seal coat to the wood and allow it to dry. Then lightly scuff-sand the coating to remove any imperfections and remove any sanding dust or residue. Apply a second coat, allow it to dry, and you are ready to begin the stringing process.

You can use either a ready-for-use glaze, which can be purchased from your finishing supplier, or you can easily make your own to get started. Below is a simple formula to make a suitable oil glaze, using a paste pigment for color, a solvent as the carrier and a drying oil as an extender:

* 1 to 2 ounces of an artist oil or Japan colorant (I suggest using a Van Dyke Brown color);

* 8 ounces of tung oil or boiled linseed oil;

* 22 ounces of naphtha or mineral spirits.

You can quickly control and adjust the drying time to make the glaze more workable by implementing the following courses of action: If more open time is needed to work out the glaze, add a little more oil to extend the working time. If the glaze is taking too long to set up and dry, decrease the oil and add more solvent. Naphtha will dry faster than mineral spirits, so you may want to consider that fact and select the faster or slower solvent, depending on the type and size of the work you will be doing.

This formula is user-friendly and can be adjusted in many ways to make it appropriate for whatever size work you will be doing. All of these ingredients can be purchased from your finishing supplier, arts and craft shops and most paint stores.

If you are using water-based finishes, following is a formula for making your own water glaze. It uses paste colorant for color, water as the solvent and carrier, and a clear liquid detergent or glycerin as the extender.

Start with 1 to 3 ounces of either an artist acrylic or water paste colorant, 22 ounces of water, and add several drops of glycerin to give you more slip and to make the water glaze more workable. Mix it well, and keep the container covered when not in use.

You can purchase either one of the water-soluble artist colorants in small-sized tubes to get you started. Glycerin is available at most arts and crafts shops or your local drug store.

Whichever type of glaze you decide to use, be sure you allow it to dry thoroughly. Also, be sure that the glaze and all your other materials are compatible. Finishing mediums will vary from one manufacturer to another, so adjustments to these formulas may be needed, depending upon your specific needs.

Add the Stringing
Be sure you mix your glaze well throughout your work, so the pigments do not settle on the bottom of the container. Along with the glaze, you will need a piece of cloth to apply it on the wood and a flat brush to brush it out. You also will need a ruler and a straightedge, plus some instruments to draw on the glaze, such as sharpened and blunted dowel rods, a scratch awl, miniature eyeglass screwdrivers or any other objects that can remove the unwanted glaze.

As you draw your lines, you will either push or pull the instrument across the glaze, which means you will be removing small amounts of glaze to create a thin line of stringing. This removal process will leave the background color of the wood showing through. That color will be the same as the wood you use for doing stringing, banding and other inlays. You may also want to try adding color into the scratched out lines to make the stringing look like colored inlays.

Once you complete this artwork and the lines are clear of any glaze residue, allow it to dry thoroughly. Apply a seal or clearcoat and allow it to dry as well. If you are satisfied with the result, then apply additional clearcoats to protect the finish.

If you want to enrich the finish and add more color before the final clearcoats, you can apply a second glaze. Always allow the glaze to set up and then brush it out completely, so the glaze is transparent and allows you to still see the natural wood. Allow for drying and complete the finish with several protective clearcoats.

Add Banding
To do the banding for the sample shown, I first scored the stringing lines into the glaze. I then cut out pieces of measured painter�s tape and placed them in a checkerboard position. I used the natural wood as the background color and painted in the black boxes. Once the paint was dry, I sealcoated it and allowed it to dry. I removed the tape and clearcoated the piece to protect the finish and the banding.

Because these techniques require a lot of practice to be perfected, I strongly recommend that you always start out by making complete samples from start to finish. The reason why samples are so important is that you will get the feel of working with the materials and, if necessary, you can make any changes before you try these methods on an actual project. Doing samples also will let you know if all your finishing materials are compatible.

You will find that with practice and some trial-and-error testing, you will soon be doing many other kinds of art in your glazing finishes.

Mac Simmons is a freelance writer and 40-year veteran of the furniture finishing, refinishing and restoration trades. His book, "Fearless Finishing" (ISBN 1558707581), is scheduled for publication by F&W Publishing in June 2006. Questions may be directed to him in writing c/o CWB, 400 Knightsbridge Pkwy., Lincolnshire, IL 60069 or via e-mail c/o Simmons' previous articles can be found at Custom Woodworking Business.

Reprinted with permission from Custom Woodworking Business Magazine.