Many tints are of the 2-in-1 colour & varnish variety, available in a range of shades and lustres, but although they recommend painting to give a hard-coated finish, the correct way to apply tint is to rub it into the wood with a soft cloth and immediately wipe off any excess (following the grain, of course, and working away from corners so there is no darker build-up in any joins); old t-shirts or underwear are good choices, as they’re made of good quality cotton, and being used they have been shorn of lint and fluff. Use some off-cuts of wood to experiment and see which colours and methods gives the result you want, but be aware that any glue or filler will result in a slightly different finish, so it may be better to tint all the pieces before cutting and gluing them.
If using a brush rather than spraying, a standard but small decorating one will probably be far too thick and stiff, so invest in a decent artist’s premium-quality synthetic (eg. Pro Arte Prolene+Plus) which will last for years if looked after properly; brushes are then left to soak for 5-10 minutes in water mixed with a couple of drops of washing-up liquid, then rinsed thoroughly in running water and left to dry. Use separate sets of brushes for water-based and oil- or spirit-based paints.
When spraying, it’s recommended to use a mask; those that cover nose and mouth and are held on by a couple of elastic bands around the head are more than suitable, though they can be a bit awkward for those of us who also wear glasses. Sprays tend to have a very wide angle of output, so for small objects place them in front of a cardboard box turned on its side (the flat-pack kind used for storage are more than adequate and have the advantage of being cheap); even with this, there will be quite a lot of ‘blow-back’, so it may also be a good idea to cover nearby objects with dust-sheets unless working in a spare room or garage; larger areas can be created by draping an old blanket or thick sheet over a clothes-horse placed on its side.
Don’t have the can too close to the object otherwise you’ll end up with globs of paint that even once dried will be very hard to sand down without leaving visible edges, and rotate the object so it’s covered evenly from all sides; if necessary, also turn it upside-down and paint from that direction as well, and build up thin layers gradually so as to preserve the underlying shape and prevent build-ups in small corners.
Plasti-kote is readily available from DIY shops but have a limited range of colours, and whilst the Marabu ‘do it’ range (from craft or model shops) are expensive in comparison, the paint gives a far denser coverage and works out to a similar value for money. Finally, anyone cooking with gas up to a few hours later may notice an odd smell, but it’s nothing to worry about.
If you’re new to such work, then this may seem a little daunting at first, but taken slowly it’s not too difficult, and given that wood is so cheap even if you do make mistakes it won’t cost too much, whilst damaged or spare parts can be used as test pieces for tinting or painting.
With regards to actual work practises, I don’t want to be a nanny (plenty of that from our government and all the tubes & buses shouting out the bleeding obvious every 30 seconds, thank you very much!), but here are a few simple tips :
Bosch PSR300LI : this is more compact than normal cordless drills and is very suited to women’s smaller hands; it also has the latest lithium-ion battery so doesn’t suffer from significant charge or memory loss, and fully recharges in about 2½ hours. It’s also useful for general DIY jobs around the home (it was used to build both tables, for example), though it doesn’t really have sufficient torque for drilling into hard walls.
A dedicated mitre unit was purchased rather than trying to use only a guide shell, and though compounds work out better value in that they do more for the money, a simple saw can only move in one plane, thus eliminating potential problems in the other. Stanley do a nice one with a pair of cam posts that turn to hold the wood in place, but unfortunately most of the time pieces of wood will be too short for both to be used.
Invest in a decent sanding block with a solid base and paper-clamps, not one of those smelly & bendy rubber things with slots; standard-sized wet-n-dry paper can then be cut into three strips and changed when necessary. Start with 240 grade and go down to 600 or even 1200.