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The Best Makeshift Wood Finishing Tools and “Hacks”

Not sure if you saw my recent article on achieving the Natural Wood Look, but in it…

I mentioned how I sometimes use a plastic door sweep to apply grain filler.

Here’s how that came about, and then I’d love to hear what makeshift tools or “hacks” you’ve discovered.

So, as I was prepping for the Natural Wood Look article, I realized I had broken the plastic trowel I normally use to manipulate the Emtech® HSF5000 Primer / Surfacer / Filler into the grain, and had never replaced the trowel.

At that moment, I didn’t want to spend extra time going to a hardware store and purchasing a new trowel, so I started looking around my shop for something I could use as a substitute.

After a few minutes of searching my eyes landed on an old door sweep that had been replaced for a new one and now was destined for the landfill. I picked it up and realized pretty quickly it might actually be the perfect makeshift tool for my job.

It has a short flexible blade similar to a squeegee blade, and a piece of rigid plastic attached to grab on to. I also really like how short in height this makeshift tool is for filling grain because it gives me better control with spreading the filler.

I was also pleased I was able to repurpose something previously considered trash and give it a second life. This is just one small way professional finishing shops large and small can save time and money and reduce waste in the environment.

A number of you remarked about this “clever” idea (thanks!), so I started wondering about all the other great ideas that might be out there.

So, let me ask YOU:

Have you developed any clever, makeshift tools or time-saving “hacks” in your shop?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying in the comments section below.

Seth Kline has been a woodworker, wood finisher and business owner for the past 25 years. After helping grow his family’s home remodeling firm — Roy B Kline & Son  both as a craftsman and business operator, in 2013 Seth became the co-owner, lead woodworker, and shop manager of Stor Handmade Furniture, a highly successful solid wood furniture shop specializing in bespoke, hand-made and hand-finished pieces. In 2023, Seth launched SBCraftsman, which offers spray finishing and small business consulting to private clients. Originally from Pennsylvania, Seth now resides in Aberdeen, N.J., and is a proud member of the Central Jersey Woodworkers Association.

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