Reply by Sawkerf

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Posted on General finishing advice

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1730 posts in 3064 days

#1 posted 08-02-2012 05:17 PM

In over 30 years of woodworking, I’ve never seen any “guidelines”. Everything I know (or think that I know) has come from trying different things.

You say that you’ve done some NYWS projects and used the finishes they called for. That should give you some sense of what you like and dislike. You could start there.

FWIW, the word “finishing” is often used to describe two separate steps. If you want to change the color of your wood, you do that with a stain. The “finish” is actually the protective coating that goes over the stain. Water based finishes dry clear and don’t change the color of the wood (stained or natural). Oil based finishes and shellacs will usually give the piece a yellowish tint. My “go-to” finish is a water based polyurethane. It’s easy to use, dries quickly, and only needs soap and water for cleanup.

Finishes come in satin (no shine), semi-gloss and gloss (high shine). I tend to go with a finish somewhat shinier than I want the piece to finally have. Finishes dull in a few months and the initial shine goes down.

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