Finish for a Turned Bowl

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Forum topic by scrappy posted 09-04-2009 08:35 AM 13305 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3506 posts in 3399 days

09-04-2009 08:35 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question purpleheart maple lathe sanding finishing turning

Hello everyone. I have just completed turning a staved bowl from Purpleheart and Maple and was wondering what finish you would suggest. I want it to SHINE when done.

I have on hand, Wipe on poly, Tung Oil/Varnish, Wax, Spray Poly, and Mineral Oil. Could purchase new finish if needed but money is tight as usual.

I am thinking of useing wipe on poly and then wax. Have used this before but with limited results. (not real happy with the amount of shine)

Any suggestions would be helpful.

Thank you all for the assistance.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

13 replies so far

View Ken90712's profile


17553 posts in 3157 days

#1 posted 09-04-2009 10:22 AM

I’m also doing a project with purple heart. I’m in the process of sanding my End Grain PurpleHeart/Rock- maple cutting board (idea I found on this site).
Two thing I have learned from this site so far.
1.) After you finish sanding allow the purpleheart to sit for a few days to allow the purple to bleed back through and remove the brown color.
2.) I’m using the finish called Salad Bowl finish from Rockler the WoodWhisper suggest. His Endgrain board shines and looks great. I tried just one light coat on scrap and like it.
Not sure if any of this is useful, good luck.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View moshel's profile


865 posts in 3652 days

#2 posted 09-04-2009 11:00 AM

Hi scrappy,

not too familiar with finishes specific to turning, but here is my 2c:
if you have patience, use pure tung oil. it is my favorite finish and it age really well. you should know that it takes 5 weeks to fully cure and then you should buff it. the process that got the best results for me was first to flood with diluted, warmed tung oil (maybe you don’t need to warm there) until you get saturation. let it sit wet for 30 min, wipe COMPLETELY with clean rug (don’t buff!) and let dry for a day or two (the morrer the marrier). re-apply tung oil (i don’t dilute at this stage) and wet sand to at least 400, preferably 1000. you will get “sludge” or something that will fill the grain. let it rest for 30 min and wipe carefully NOT with the grain. let it rest for AT LEAST a week (4-5 weeks is ideal), and buff until it shines like the sun. tung oil is different than other oil finish. it cures and make a hard surface that resists just about everything, and the finish last for a long long time and can be easily re-applied. BUT, it takes time…. heaps of time. Oh, you have to sand to high grit – usually 320 and higher before applying tung oil.

if you don’t have the patience, I would still suggest to use diluted tung oil (50:50 with terp) as first layer and surface sealer – it will bring out the beauty of the wood. let dry for a day or two and start applying wipe on poly (gloss) with increasing grit light sanding between layers. when you get to 400, start wet sanding with water. 400 will give you good gloss shine, 600 really glossy “wet” shine and 1000… mirror like shine.

-- The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep...

View patron's profile


13600 posts in 3309 days

#3 posted 09-04-2009 12:57 PM

well there you go , scrappy .
evidently it takes time ,
to shine ,
at being cheap !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Broda's profile


313 posts in 3487 days

#4 posted 09-04-2009 01:23 PM

There’s a product I use that will give an EXELENT shine but it only takes a couple minutes so apply. I use it on just about all of my turnings. – use this first, its an abrasive wax that basically sands your work for you – then use this, its a friction polish that actually bonds into the wood instead of just putting a film on top of it and its food safe.

These finishes are quite big among woodturners and restorers in Australia and I really reccomend them if you can find it.

I ‘spose your up for about 40 bucks (AUD) but you dont use very much of it at all and I guarantee you’ll love it

-- BRODY. NSW AUSTRALIA -arguments with turnings are rarely productive-

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14171 posts in 3951 days

#5 posted 09-04-2009 02:47 PM

automotive car wax

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View hairy's profile


2661 posts in 3501 days

#6 posted 09-04-2009 11:48 PM

I’m liking this stuff:
It dries quick.
I used it on these:

-- My reality check bounced...

View woodpeckerbill's profile


205 posts in 3242 days

#7 posted 09-05-2009 12:13 AM

Hey Scrappy, If you are knowledgeable about shellac,I highly recommend it….followed by waxing. Be sure and use superblonde on your purpleheart. I been using it for years.Works great. Bill

View Loucarb's profile


2388 posts in 3414 days

#8 posted 09-05-2009 12:26 AM

Hut makes a product called Crystal Coat Finish which produces high gloss it is a mixture of shellac and Carnauba wax. Its about $10 for a small bottle but it goes a long way. It’s also food safe. Lou

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3303 days

#9 posted 09-05-2009 01:21 AM

A high sheen is great Scrappy, but I think it is important that whatever you use that you finely sand and rub it out real good between coats and after the final coat. Otherwise it might look more like plastic than wood. I’m not very knowledgeable about finishes, but I have had good luck with auto rubbing compound. This is just my personal opinion, but I’m sure that many turners would agree with me on this point.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3238 days

#10 posted 09-05-2009 01:34 AM

I have turned several of the purpleheart/maple combo staved vessels. I love the color contrast. Now as far as finish goes for turned items…the first question is will it be used for food…..most staved vessels aren’t shaped to store foodstuffs….but if you should desire that….then make sure you do not use a toxic finish. For food bowls and such I use a product called salad bowl finish….and then buff on carnauba or beeswax.

If the item is not destined for food….I use about 3 or 4 coats of good tung oil (I like the Real Milk brand personally)...followed by very high gloss base coat of either shellac or poly (I prefer Ultra gloss Zar brand)...apply…sand 600….apply sand 600….apply…and so on…I will put several coats and sand up to 1000 grit paper…this is done until I get a good solid foundation (this is usually a personal preference….I don’t want my finish to look too plastic….but I also want to make sure I have a good base to hold the wax. I then go to the buffer….I put a nice film of wax and buff until clear. Put on another film…then buff till clear… Do this until you are satisfied with the look…...I find this method gets me where I want to go for a very high gloss.

I have also heard folks using other types of oil bases like linseed…etc…...then a base with a shellac, poly or lacquer cover…..there are so many products out there….I just keep experimenting until I find something that works good for me.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View moshel's profile


865 posts in 3652 days

#11 posted 09-05-2009 02:15 AM

this is definitely a case of 4 LJs. 600 opinions, scrappy…. and they all work

-- The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep...

View scrappy's profile


3506 posts in 3399 days

#12 posted 09-05-2009 03:38 AM

Thanks for all the help everyone. Not sure wich way I am going yet, but will post soon.

Thanks Again


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View LesB's profile


1686 posts in 3411 days

#13 posted 09-05-2009 07:10 AM

I have had great results from both General’s and Behlen’s salad bowl finish. Behlen’s is a bit thicker and builds up quickly. I usually start by applying two separate coats by hand with a soft cloth. Then clean off any dust specks or raised grain with 400 grit sand paper or 0000 steel wool. Usually I leave a recess in the bottom of my bowls so I can remount them on the lathe for this. A couple more coats and you are done. I let is cure for a few days and then polish it with carnauba paste wax using a white 3M pad (or 0000 steel wool). That takes off any dust specks you might have. Then Buff with a soft cloth. These finishes are very durable. I have friends who have used their salad bowl daily for many years before I had to refinish it for them.

Behlen’s finish will scum over if you leave air in the can. One of those pressurized cans on nitrogen can be used to displace the air and reduce this scum. General’s does not seem to have this problem.

-- Les B, Oregon

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