What to use other than poly on a project?

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Forum topic by Tom posted 11-08-2015 04:48 AM 759 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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166 posts in 899 days

11-08-2015 04:48 AM

I’m going to be building a dice tower (for gaming) and was wondering what would be a good finish other than my usual stain then put clear poly on it. I’m building it out of 1/4” poplar and would like to keep it a lighter color overall. I know there’s a variety of finishes but haven’t really used any of them.

5 replies so far

View oldnovice's profile


6433 posts in 3207 days

#1 posted 11-08-2015 05:03 AM

Finish, in my opinion, depends on the main use of the project.
For example I prefer lacquer for decorative boxes, but poly for an end table, danish oil for a picture/mirror frame, BLO for garden tools, and shellac for shop projects. There is no rational involved because I do change it up at times depending on my mood and sometimes I use what I have on have on hand or what I haven’t used for some time.

In other words, I am the wrong person to answer your question!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View waho6o9's profile


8034 posts in 2416 days

#2 posted 11-08-2015 05:38 AM

I’d use Shellac and then wax, done.

Practice on scraps first and you’ll find something you like.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

27095 posts in 2177 days

#3 posted 11-08-2015 09:55 AM

No real right or wrong answer. On my shop I have; water based poly, oil based poly, lacquer, BLO, Danish oil, wipe on poly, several stains, shellac, and probably something I forgot about on the shelf. New dining table I am working on will go to my brothers shop to be sprayed with catalyzed lacquer (his term). Learn different finishes. Use them all.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4764 posts in 2332 days

#4 posted 11-08-2015 12:45 PM

The first thing I always consider with a finish is how durable (wear and tear) does it have to be for the piece in question. Since I have no idea what a “dice tower” is or does I’ll key in on the “lighter color” (which I guess means less amber). There is an oil based varnish that has a very light color, an alkyd resin/soya oil formula is very light in color, and has less color shift over time. It’s also incredibly durable. The downside is it’s pretty hard to find, the only one I know being made anymore is Pratt and Lambert 38…it’s also my favorite oil based finish. f that’s not an option, most of the waterborne finishes are clear, unless they are tinted to mimic an oil based finish…they are also quite durable (if that’s important). There are some shellacs that are quite close to being clear (super blonde and platinum) if that’s suitable for the use. They are also very fast drying, and easy to apply. A nitro cellulose lacquer will also dry quite clear, and be easy to apply as long as you follow the safety stuff using it. Lacquer would be the least durable but that may not matter.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Tom's profile


166 posts in 899 days

#5 posted 11-08-2015 04:34 PM

Thanks for the info. It doesn’t need to be super durable and I may just put a clear poly on it.

As for what it is: it’s basically a box with baffles in it. You drop dice in on the top, they roll down then exit into a tray. It prevents any sort of cheating when playing board games. People make them out of plastic, foam board, wood, and I’ve even seen some made from plaster that look like a castle tower.

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