LANCASTER, Pa. - How to identify and capitalize on emerging design and color trends are two key takeaways woodworkers can expect to pocket by attending the wood finishing seminar scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 18 during Wood Pro Expo at Warehouse of the Nook.

The session, “Keeping Up with Trends: From Bellbottoms to Blockbuster,” will be presented by Les Smith, market development manager for the Sherwin Williams Company.

“A big part of my presentation will be to help custom woodworkers understand where to look for trends and how to effectively use this information to change styles or colors in their products,” Smith said.

As part of his job function, Smith regularly visits woodworking operations of all sizes. “A lot of woodworkers would like to be on the forefront of the next big thing but they don’t have time because they have businesses to run,” Smith said. “When I walk into a shop, one of the biggest questions that I get is, 'What is the next great hot thing?' If you’re asking me, you’re a little late. You should already be selling that. You should be looking at what’s coming out in 2021, ‘22 and ’23.”

Perhaps the most dominant trend Smith said he has witnessed in recent years is the use of paints surpassing stains for coating cabinets. “Three years or so ago pigmented colors made up 20 to 30 percent of cabinet finishes. Now it’s flipped. There are more painted cabinets than stained cabinets,” Smith said. “One reason is that there are more color options and painted cabinets are easier to produce in a consistent manner. While it’s critical that cabinet shops stay on the cutting edge of color for painted cabinets, there is a little variability in stain cabinets.”

In addition to drawing on his more than two decades of experience with coatings for the wood and automotive industries, Smith said he gains valuable insights from Sherwin Williams Global Color & Design Center in Greensboro, NC. The GCDC is a depository of color trends and a working laboratory capable of applying all types of finishes and testing their performance.

Smith’s WPE presentation will also examine technology trends. “It could be application equipment but it also could be government regulations governing VOC emissions. Shop owners need to know their options in terms of water-based, low-formaldehyde-release materials, etc.,” Smith said.

Trends in distressing wood finishes also works its way into Smith’s presentation. “We’ve gone from where a distressed wood finish looked like someone dragged a door down the street behind their car to where it’s now kind of a combination of a light medium distressing with a glaze to highlight the grain.”

Click here to learn more and register for Smith’s finishing trends session and other educational sessions at Wood Pro Expo.

About Wood Pro Expo
Wood Pro Expo is a regional event for woodworking businesses that brings together suppliers and experts for a localized presentation of equipment and supply solutions. WPE includes a strong educational program on best practices for shop production - including CNC basics, employee recruitment, finishing, lean manufacturing, business management, software, and shop safety - and an expo floor with equipment and supplies geared to small and medium-size shops.

The Fall 2019 Wood Pro Expo takes place Oct. 17-18 at the Spooky Nook Sports Center in Manheim, Pa., near Lancaster. For information visit

For exhibitor information contact Lewis Goldman at or phone 800-969-2212. 



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