I’m no expert by any means but I have more experience than I sometimes let on. I’ve been tinkering around in workshops since I was old enough to walk but I have only recently tried to do really high quality work. This usually includes putting a finish on the completed product.

But I hate putting finish on wood. I’ve already said that here. I deal with that emotion in a variety of ways.

Mostly by getting creatively lazy. First, I like shellac because it dries fast. Also, you can wipe it on with a rag instead of using a brush and then having to clean the brush.

I saw Scott Phillips on TV back in the ‘90s and he instructed us viewers to put shellac flakes into a jar of alcohol and just wait – sometimes for over a month until it dissolves. Well, I took enough chemistry to teach me that you can accelerate that process by increasing the surface area (by grinding the flakes into a powder) and by increasing the temperature. So I take an old blade-type coffee grinder that I’ve set aside for this purpose, grind the flakes to a powder, and then dump that into the alcohol. I then stick the jar out in my super-hot garage (if it’s the summer) and that stuff is mostly dissolved over night. Another day or so and it’s ready.

I’ve also taken to putting a nitrile glove on and then putting one of my old socks over that like a glove. Then I just dip my hand into the jar and wipe on the shellac. I like this because I don’t have to soak the entire rag with it and less gets wasted.

If, for some reason, I feel I need to use something tougher than shellac, I’ll use polyurethane because you can find it everywhere. I get the wiping kind (thinned) and just pour it into my sock-gloved hand and wipe away. If it’s a large surface area like a table top, I’ll just pour it onto the table directly and wipe that around.

Then just shuck off the sock and hang it on the edge of the garbage can to dry.

I’ve never had any problems with socks having lint – possibly due to the fact that by the time I throw them away, they’ve been washed so many times that all the lint is in the dryer flue.

If the thing that I make is small enough, I will go one step lazier and just dip it in the finish directly. I made some handles for a desk once and finished them in this way. This was much easier than any alternative. I put a screw into one of the screw holes and used it to grab onto and then hung the handles by that screw using a clothespin. Easy.

I also hate sanding; so I just try to avoid it by the proper use of a smoothing plane and cabinet scraper. Things usually look pretty good and I only end up having to sand curvy parts. I can deal with that. I prefer all this to using a random orbit sander just because of the noise and dust but I do still occasionally bust out the sander. There’s a time and a place for everything after all and my sander was pretty cheap.