Trade Secrets

Updated: Mar 21, 2020

I have recently discovered some trade secrets to getting wood restoration projects completed in a timely manner. When faced with wood projects that you have started and no longer have the motivation to finish, just pull out these secrets. When you are told – perhaps by your landlord, roommate, and brother – to “get your crap off that back porch” (to which you act blissfully ignorant but absolutely know what is being spoken about), just pull out these trade secrets. When you are 6 months into what should have been a two week project, feel free to borrow these trade secrets. Finally, when you are doing any form of what is condescendingly referred to as “arts and crafts” by the male gender of this house, feel free to use these trade secrets.

Trade Secret #1:

Only actually finish the part of the project that people are going to see. Cause let’s be serious, that’s what walls are for. (They were not, in fact, meant to provide a structure for a roof.)


You could leave the back of the project unfinished because you are lazy. Or it could be because you have a sentimental attachment to the untouched condition of the backside of the project. No one ever has to know which of these two things is true.

In this scenario, I have the honor and the privilege of claiming both reasons. Did I leave the back of this bench undone because I am lazy? Why yes, I certainly did. But there was also a high level of sentimentality associated with this one of many carved-on benches from the FFA-FCCLA center in Covington, Georgia. I will never forget the sound of their wooden legs scraping the wooden floor of an auditorium as 500 middle and high school students cleared the chairs away after a day of State FFA Convention sessions or FFA camp to create a dance floor. Where we then proceeded to awkwardly “Get Jiggy” with Will Smith and our latest crushes in that sweltering summer heat.

You can’t just sand those memories away and act as if they never happened, people. And that is obviously the only reason why I didn’t bother sanding the back of this bench.


Trade Secret #2:

Do not be concerned about spray paint drift whatsoever and do nothing to prevent spray paint from drifting across the entire back porch.

Because this will not make your landlord or as he is more commonly referred to, your brother, angry at all. You will not get a lecture about this. Nor will you get dirty looks and under-the-breath-I’m-gonna-kick-you-out threats. What you will get is your “crap off that back porch” which is exactly what he wanted.

Trade Secret #3:

Do not bother actually sanding out the scratches, sanding off the prior coat of varnish, or sanding off spray paint drift prior to staining the wood.


This would obviously take too much time. While you’re at it, don’t bother sanding with increasingly finer increments of sandpaper grit either. Find whatever your mother has available (read: free) at her house and use it to sand to whatever degree does not involve too much time, energy, or elbow grease. Driving to the store and buying the right grit sandpaper would obviously take up too much of your precious time. This is not conducive to the royal decree of “get your crap off that back porch.”

Trade Secret #4:

Do not bother wearing gloves to apply stain or varnish and don’t worry one little bit about how you apply said stain or varnish. Got an old bath cloth laying around? Go for it. Got a foam brush? Use it. Who needs a real paint brush anyways? Don’t bother reading directions or applying stain or varnish according to those directions. After all, when applied without gloves that stain will give you the kind of tan that can’t be bought.

Well, actually, the stain and therefore the tan is bought. Never mind. Just know, stain will stain your hands just like it stains your woodwork.

Follow these trade secrets and you’ll be sure to “get your crap off that back porch” in approximately 6 months – which is totally appropriate for a project that should have only taken 2 weeks.

After that is accomplished, all you have to do is figure out what in the world you are going to do with these random pieces of furniture  you were so insistent on redoing, which match absolutely nothing in your home.  *Ahem* I mean, your brother’s home.

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