Workbench Finish

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Forum topic by Archited posted 01-06-2010 12:34 AM 5201 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 2487 days

01-06-2010 12:34 AM

I have just completed a copy of Tage Frid’s hard maple workbench from FWW originally published back in the 70’s. He recommended finishing it with a mix of paraffin and mineral spirits. Does anyone have a suggestion for an updated finish for workbenches?

9 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3072 days

#1 posted 01-06-2010 12:45 AM

I used BLO. it conditions the wood, protects it from moisture, but doesn’t cover it with synthetic hard shell – still nice warm wood feeling, and keeps the friction to help hold the work pieces to the workbench

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View pmayer's profile


848 posts in 2489 days

#2 posted 01-07-2010 12:21 AM

I agree with PurpLev. BLO is a great choice. It is cheap, easy to refresh, and will look great. Any curing penetrating oil that you have on hand will do fine.

Good luck. That will be a sweet bench. Be sure to post pics…

-- PaulMayer,

View Archited's profile


2 posts in 2487 days

#3 posted 01-07-2010 12:58 AM

Thank you gentlemen for your responses. I had originally thought some kind of tung oil would work, but I hadn’t considered BLO. Would BLO be preferred over tung oil or are they similar?
I am a brand new member and have not posted any pictures yet although I have a few projects that could be posted. I assume it is relatively easy? Is there a maximum size for photos so I make sure not to post something too large?

View pmayer's profile


848 posts in 2489 days

#4 posted 01-07-2010 03:47 PM

No, tung oil would be fine as well. I generally prefer tung oil over BLO because it smells nicer and doesn’t darken as much as BLO over time. But I am a tightwad, and tung oil is way more expensive than BLO, and I can live with a bit of darkening on my workbench. But, as I said in my previous post, any curing penetrating oil or oil blend (such as Watco, Maloof oil, etc.) would be fine. The key here is to get something “in” the wood and not “on” the wood. In other words, I would encourage you to avoid any build-up finish such as poly, lacquer, etc. as this will scratch over time and be a pain to refresh. I commonly take whatever finish I have leftover after applying a coat to a project, and just wipe it onto my workbench to refresh the finish.

-- PaulMayer,

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3523 days

#5 posted 01-07-2010 03:58 PM

I rely on canned finishes quite a bit. I just use Watco Danish Oil on my projects that will not tolerate a film finish.

The benefit is that I can shake the can, open, and apply.

All oil finishes will need to be reapplied once in a while but it is simple and fast.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View ToddG's profile


1 post in 2485 days

#6 posted 01-07-2010 07:58 PM

I’ve built two benches so far and used tung oil on both. I re-apply about every 3 months seems to be working fine to me.

-- The greatest achievement is selflessness.

View TheDane's profile


4939 posts in 3087 days

#7 posted 01-07-2010 08:45 PM

I used a mixture of gum turpentine, beeswax, and boiled linseed oil on my bench.

Grate up about 2 ounces beeswax in a jar, and add 16-ounces of pure gum turpentine. Cover it and let the wax dissolve into a paste-like blend, then add 16 ounces of BLO and stir until you have a thick liquid.

Brush or wipe the blend over your workbench and let the wood absorb for an hour or two, then wipe or squeegee … if you use a squeegee you can put the excess back in the container for future use. After a few days, give it a buffing to produce a soft shine.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View gerrym526's profile


266 posts in 3232 days

#8 posted 01-08-2010 01:58 AM

I used Lee Valley Polymerized Tung Oil. It’s not cheap, but the original finish on my hard maple workbench top lasted over 10yrs before I had to lightly sand it and reapply a new coat.

-- Gerry

View 8iowa's profile


1540 posts in 3185 days

#9 posted 01-08-2010 02:15 AM

Since I use my bench for a lot of assembly and glue-up, I use Johnson’s Paste Wax. Glue drippings peel right off.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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