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MAY JLC 1997 Aclear finish is used to protect wood and to enhance the wood's figure and coloration, but does neither well unless the surface is properly prepared. In this article, we'll explain how to prepare a wood surface to accept the many available kinds of clear finishes. In a future article, we'll survey clear finishes and explain how to apply them. New Wood A close examination of the wood surface is the first step in preparing for any finish, because the finish will magnify even the smallest flaw. The most common blemish is likely to be mill marks that show up as horizontal waves running across the length of the molding