I owned a high end body shop for twenty years. Did a lot of European cars, and the finished products, all to often, wound up under strong showroom lights. Factory approved finishing and repair for BMW, Benz etc. With specific application techniques, and finally exhaustive rubbing, a finish was produced that would far exceed factory specs. It was necessary to tone it down unless you were doing an overall. Why am I saying all of this? Well mainly this: If someone asked me about refinishing I could get very specific about techniques. What to do, what not to do, and the tips and tricks to take it over the top. It is all to often the technique that would separate the mind blowing finish from the mundane. Of course the proper material had a lot to do with it, but if I had to choose just one, it would be technique. Now that woodworking is a part of my life, trying to apply 20 years of automotive knowledge to woodworking, is almost a waste of time. In automotive, you build up a thick layer of finish, that is often catalyzed for quick drying, then the next day cut it with wet and dry paper, and polish it with lambs wool bonnets. Unfortunately that doesn't have a thing to do with wood finishing. I have been on a quest for the past couple of years to find a book on wood finishing that would give me the kind of knowledge that I understood with automotive. After all of my searching, I finally found it, and Great Wood Finishes: A Step-By-Step Guide to Consistent and Beautiful Results by Jeff Jewitt is it. You couldn't gain the experience given in this book without spending a lot of years acquiring it. The only obstacle to acquiring a lifetime of finishing knowledge is our willingness to open our minds and accept it.
They say their is two ways to learn: Either go through the school of hard knocks, or listen to someone who has gone through the school of hard knocks. Not only does this book show you how, their is a knack applied, by the author of explaining the relevant aspects of what you want to know. Their is no way I want to spend the kind of time and resources that would be necessary, in order to learn the lessons explained in this book. I guess you could say that Jeff Jewitt is more than an deeply experienced wood refinisher, he is an excellent teacher as well.
He explains the different finishing techniques, each of the different materials, and even the unique problems you acquire in finishing different species of wood.
The book gives you full color photographs, for example, of a piece of cherry, which is divided into different sections, displaying the different shades as a result of different coloring techniques.
I am glad that I bought the other books on refinishing wood, but this book is the one that I feel the most akin to. The author tells you the pitfalls to avoid, and is still very much in touch with the reasons why he does what he does. He doesn't just say this is the way you do it period. He explains quite often the reason why. Overall I highly recommend this book. Nothing really negative to say about it. It's a great one.