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Glossary of Terms

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Furniture Finishing Terms


Chemical additive used to control the drying and flow of water base finishes. Can be used with stains and finishes to "extend" the open time.

Fish Eyes

Defects in the finish film caused by surface contamination (usually from oils, silicones, and waxes.)


The amount of light reflected off the finish surface. High gloss is rated 80-90°. Semi gloss is rated 50-75°. Satin is rated 30-45° . Rubbed effect is rated 20-25°. Flat sheen is rated 5-15°.

Grain Raising

Tiny fibers in the wood grain that lift when exposed to water. Easily controlled with proper sanding.


Finish that has had the gloss reduced to provide a softer sheen. A flattening agent made from fumed silica reduces the amount of light reflected by the surface.


A liquid mixture to color wood. Made of 4 parts: Vehicle (water or solvent), Colorant (pigments and dyes), Binder (resin), Additives (solvents to control drying).

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