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Glazes - Often Overlooked in Furniture Refinishing

Posted on October 28, 2010 at 9:35 AM

Generally, glazing refers to a pigmented "stain" applied over a clear seat coat or a pigmented finish.  Unlike a stain which colors the wood directly, a glaze remains on the surface of the intermediate finish layer - very much like pushing a thin paint around on a piece of glass.  Overall, glazing influences the appearance of the finish by slightly deepening its color - adding depth,contrast, and richness. Glazes may be used to focus attention on the profiles of a particular piece or as part of a distressing process.

Once the glaze material has been applied to the surface, different techniques are used to manipulate them depending on the desired look.  These methods include brushing, ragging, and burnishing in a variety of ways at varying times in the glaze drying phase.  The picture above shows a glaze wiped with a fine rag dipped in thinner after the glaze had gotten very sticky.  The foreground surfaces are very clean while the deep parts of the carving are very heavily accented.

This picture shows a contrast glaze applied over a pigmented base.  The carved areas have been wiped and brushed, leaving a more shaded contast, and the flat areas have been wiped with an open weave rag to tone and coordinate the overall color of the piece.

Glazes are widely used by furniture manufacturers and they have become popular in cabinetry and millwork applications.  Faux finishing is almost purely very advanced, artistic glaze usage.  Despite this, glazing is avoided by many furniture refinishers and by the DIY "stain-and-polyurethane" literature.

By James Conklin

Categories: Furniture Refinishing, Resources