What is a good durable finish to go on top of BLO?

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Blog entry by Chelios posted 04-11-2010 06:11 AM 3692 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I built this table out of padauk and maple. I read somewhere that shellac over BLO makes a nice looking and durable finish. Thinking about it a little more I though I’d ask you for advise because I have two toddlers and this table will end up seeing hundreds of hotwheel miles. So is there anything out there that will make a nice finish over BLO and be more durable than shellac? or is the shellac ok. I have the zinsser bulls eye shellac.

thanks in advance

Here it is without the BLO


And here it is with the BLO


9 comments so far

View Troy's profile


186 posts in 2485 days

#1 posted 04-11-2010 06:25 AM

Shellac is not as durable, but you can reapply as needed which is nice. Padauk edge grain will be fairly durable, but not much can withstand kids. Anything type of lacquer or urethane top coats after three weeks of curing should be sufficient.
Nice looking, durable table.

-- Troy Bouffard || Master Sergeant, US Army (Retired) ||

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


392 posts in 2443 days

#2 posted 04-11-2010 06:39 AM

If you seal the BLO with dewaxed shellac, you can put poly (or lacquer) over that. However, if your topcoat is water-based, it can turn cloudy if you put it directly over an oil-based product without sealing it.

If you’re going to use the Zinsser, be sure to check the manufacture date to ensure it’s not too old (despite their claims to the contrary, I say if it’s over a year old, it’s too old). Some stores will let that stuff sit on a shelf or in a warehouse forever. As shellac ages it undergoes esterification and won’t dry correctly. Fresh mixed shellac flakes are always better

Nice table though. Paduak has always been a personal favorite and I like your contrast with the maple.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View Hallmark's profile


432 posts in 2528 days

#3 posted 04-11-2010 06:58 AM

Give the BLO plenty of time to dry and use the dewaxed shellac. If it gets worn from use just apply another coat. It’s simple to apply and it forms into the previous coats. No harm in holding off on applying something else over it until you try just the BLO and shellac.

-- Style is simple, but not my execution of it.

View Ecocandle's profile


1013 posts in 2488 days

#4 posted 04-11-2010 10:14 AM

That is a beautiful table. If it were mine, I would love to play with Hot Wheels and Lego blocks on it.

-- Brian Meeks,

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 2488 days

#5 posted 04-11-2010 03:31 PM

Thank you all for your advice. I found out the can I have is 1 yr and 2 days old. Also I will go and check out the zinsser page to see if the can I have is dewaxed. I learned something new about shellac. I didnt know you could just re-apply and it forms into previous layers. Thanks again!

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 2488 days

#6 posted 04-11-2010 03:35 PM

Thanks Brian, I admit I give in to hot wheels from time to time…hey I just realized we share the same LJs birthday.

View Shopsmithtom's profile


787 posts in 3617 days

#7 posted 04-11-2010 05:56 PM

If what you have is Zinsser Shellac, it’s not de-waxed. Their de-waxed shellac is Zinsser Sanding Sealer. I’ve used the sanding sealer & then a polyurethane over BLO as well as just poly with good results. It didn’t seem to matter if I used both steps of just one. The key is to let the BLO cure long enough. anywhere from a couple of days to a week depending on temp & humidity.

By the way, the absolute best result I’ve gotten was: BLO, several coats of sanding sealer, final coat scuffed w/ maroon Scotch-brite pad, a couple of coats of brushed on poly, scuffed between coats, then sand flat with an orbital sander (or by hand)w/ 320 grit, careful not to go through the finish. Thoroughly wipe to remove dust (I used a dampened mineral spirits cloth) and then make a pad of a cotton cloth ball wrapped in cloth & wipe several coats of polyurethane. You don’t need to buy “wipe-on” poly…poly wipes fine without spending extra. Give each coat enough time to dry to the touch but no longer than that, or you’ll need to re-scuff. Practice on a scrap first to get the technique down. After 2-3 wipe coats, the result should be like glass without any need to rub out.
I know that sounds tedious in print, but it’s pretty quick in practice & the result is worth it. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 2488 days

#8 posted 04-11-2010 08:24 PM

SST- Thanks for the detail…so much to learn on this matter. I will take the next couple of days to let that BLO cure and in the meantime I will get the right materials for this finish. I have never tried finishing like this so it is time for me to learn.

thanks again

View Shopsmithtom's profile


787 posts in 3617 days

#9 posted 04-12-2010 01:34 AM

I used to hat the finish work, but I’ve begun to play around with various things & found that’s really interesting. Don’t be afraid to experiment on scraps. I started collecting back issues of Fine Woodworking on ebay. They’re a great source of info on all things woodworking. Lots of info on finishing. I buy in bunches or lots…cheaper that way. Have fun & PM me if you have any specific questions. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

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