Kitchen Island Project #4: Need your advice - finishing

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Jim posted 07-02-2009 07:50 AM 1622 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Doors complete Part 4 of Kitchen Island Project series Part 5: Doors are installed »

We are more than half way to completing this project and are now thinking about the finish we want to apply. I was originally thinking of a clear or orange tint shellac to keep the wood as close to natural as possible. However looking at it now, it’s very light and might be better with a slight bit more colour. I hate finishing so I’m looking to take the easiest and most fool proof approach that will give me a nice look. I don’t want a high gloss varathane, I like it to look and feel like wood, not plastic. I was thinking of a Natural or Golden Oak Danish Oil but still haven’t written off Shellac. I’m looking for opinions. If this was your project, how would you finish it?


-- Jim in Langley BC Canada ---

6 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117120 posts in 3604 days

#1 posted 07-02-2009 07:53 AM

For cabinets I like wiping stain from Sherwin Williams and a clear water base on top .

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 3353 days

#2 posted 07-02-2009 08:21 AM

I agree with Jim…I really like their wiping stains…what color is your existing cabinets ?? As far as color…I may be old fashioned…but I love “Golden Oak” as a stained color in a kitchen.

-- Don S.E. OK

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3848 days

#3 posted 07-02-2009 12:23 PM

Jim, like Don I tend to favor using golden oak stain for my oak projects. This tone gives the wood a little color without overwhelming the grain. The danish oil that you are considering should do the job. Shellac will provide the island with surface protection but it does not handle exposure to water as well as poly does. If I were doing this, and did not anticipate water problems, I would go with several layers of a shellac topcoat over a golden oak stain.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View eastside's profile


97 posts in 3288 days

#4 posted 07-02-2009 03:03 PM

I built 3 pieces for my bathroom in Cherry and used wipe on polly by Minwax on 2 of them and a more expensive wipe on finish on the other with the same results. Fantastic. You will achieve what you want “I like it to look and feel like wood, not plastic”. That’s what I was looking for and I love it. It’s been 2 years and the humidity hasn’t touched it and the Cherry is aging well. Absolutely no build up in delicate corners and smooth as glass because you wipe it off a 220 sanded finish and it stays almost as smooth. Sometimes I’ll steel wool if it starts to pick up dust. I am now doing my kitchen in Sapele and I’m using the Minwax Antique oil and it looks great. I went with the oil on this one because it does not have any polly in it, the wipe on polly by minwax will build up to that plastic look if you apply 8 coats. I say 8 coats because that’s what I did to some natural birch doors and have a nice gloss and very smooth, the best I every did. I also don’t like the finishing end and was looking for fool proof approach. I suggest to buy a small can of your choice Danish oil, minwax etc and do some test pieces. Mike

-- Mike, Westport MA.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4126 days

#5 posted 07-02-2009 03:11 PM

Shellac can create a “plastic” look just as any other finish and is not as durable as poly’s and pro-grade catalyzed varnishes.

There is a huge misconception about film finishes looking like plastic. They look that way because people put them on too heavy and any film finish can be applied too heavy.

The safest method for the amateur to apply a finish is to use a wipe-on polyurethane because each layer goes on very thin. You will have to put on several coats (no less than 6) for good protection in the kitchen, but since the coats are thin they dry fairly quickly.

Brushing lays out the heaviest coats. I spray everything because it gives the best results, the coats are thinner than brushing and easier to control. Wipe-ons provide a good fall back for those that are just tapping into their finishing skills.

I used wipe-ons until I invested in a pro-grade pressure pot and now I spray everything with pre-catalyzed lacquers and conversion varnishes. I have also sprayed water borne lacquers, oil based and water based poly’s as well. I always go back to the solvent based lacquers because of the speed and finish they give, which is great.

The most important thing here is that the “plasticy” look comes from finish being applied too thick more than anything else.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 3375 days

#6 posted 07-02-2009 06:02 PM

I agree with Todd. Don’t apply your finish as if your a bricklayer laying mortar and your project won’t end up looking like it’s wrapped in plastic. Wipe-on/wipe-off products assist in building thin layers by the very nature of they way they are applied and therefore can be a great finish for those who are unsure of their finishing skills.

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics