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Spring '05 sememster at Laney:

Herman: That tabletop was made of machiche, a tropical exotic hardwood that's just about as hard as purpleheart, or frozen steak. I offered to put a finish coat on it for $65. Susan said sure. What did I know! I couldn't sand out the burnt mark on the edge by hand. I should have told her to sand that out herself, since she cut it on the tablesaw with the jig Russell helped her build. In the end I used a chisel to pare out the burnt mark, but that left the surface of the edge uneven. Good thing Susan never looked too closely. But that's not the end of it. I was using brushing lacquer for the finish, thinking that that should be the perfect finish for a tabletop. One smell of this stuff and I know I have to take it outside for the application. For some reason the small flying bugs love this lacquer. Even though it does dry quickly -- within 15 minutes the lacquer looses tackiness. But there's always one or two bugs land on the surface just in time and drown themselves. What's this? Kamakazi? Then I find out the afternoon sun is so hot it heats up the wood enough to create bubbles, even when the lacquer is already dried to the touch! I must have coated, sanded it smooth and coated again, 6 or 8 or 9 times before I decide to chuck it. There's just too many problems with brushing lacquer. I will just buy a spray can and spray some lacquer on for one last thin coat and leave it. That done, the table was taken to the Laney Gallery for that 3-week exhibit. When the exhibit is over, Susan says she is going out of town and won't be home for a while. So I take the table home. That's when I discover the beautiful scratches on the tabletop lovingly left by some visitors at the exhibit gallery. Ah! so the brushing lacquer wasn't hard enough to resist scratches. Now I have to sand the scratches out and put on something else before I deliver it to Susan...