Finishes -- FWW article on foam brushes

an article in the most recent issue of Fine Woodworking comes out very strongly in favor of disposable foam brushes (as contrast with bristle brushes which now cost $50 for best quality.)

Some hints;

1) finish the surface with a 220 grit paper, wipe or vacuum off sawdust. if using an water based finish DO NOT use a tack cloth to remove dust as traces of resin left behind will interfere with the application.

2) decant a few ounces of finish into a plastic cup or beaker wide enough to accomodate the brust. this prevents premature evaporation.

3) dip the brush ONLY 1/4 inch into the finish -- do not allow the brush to become saturated (causes bubble problems.)

4) use only one side of the brush for finish application -- by doing this the brush will not accumulate dust.

5) it is helpful to illuminate the surface with an incandescent at a 45 degree angle -- this will show up mistakes.

And of course, check first to make sure that the foam brush is not attacked by the finish you are using. Lacquers with volatile solvents shouldn't be used with foam brushes.
Baltic Birch will take virtually any stain -- I wouldn't use shellac, however -- while it is nice for furniture it can't take a lot of abuse and if someone spills booze or perfume on it you have a refinishing job.

from being a real devotee of woodworking, i have now reverted to philistinism so I use Minwax finishes all the time -- they don't dissapoint.
Well, IMHO, those foam brushes are terrible. Bubbles are an issue, and they are physically weak enough that if you are not careful, you can snap the stem inside the foam. I used them for a while, but then moved on to those cheap nylon disposable brushes from Wal-Mart. $CDN0.97 each, no bubbles, toss 'em when you are done. :)