finishing help on Walnut

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Forum topic by descout posted 1543 days ago 1026 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View descout's profile


104 posts in 1597 days

1543 days ago

Ok so I am fairly new to all this woodworking and never realized how many ways there are to finish one piece of wood! I am working with walnut knife block and I am looking to finish it. I have the time and am in no rush so I think I am going to go with dark walnut danish oil, then an amber shellac followed by a topcoat. Would something like Arm R seal do the trick? I am looking for suggestions on the top coat. I have used Arm R Seal before and had great results, just never used on top of the oil and shellac.

What do you guys think?

13 replies so far

View bigike's profile


4028 posts in 1791 days

#1 posted 1543 days ago

try it on piece of scrap first.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 1828 days

#2 posted 1543 days ago

I used shellac on top of the danish oil (let the oil dry really well first). Worked great. didn’t try varnish on top though. Don’t see why it could be an issue.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2325 days

#3 posted 1543 days ago

There is nothing wrong with this finishing routine. Oil, with a shellac sealer, followed by a wiping varnish topcoat is a common finishing schedule. As Bigike said do it on some scrap first to see if this will give you the finish that you want.

If you are using the Watco product it contains raw linseed oil (not boiled linseed oil) which has a recommended cure time of 3 days. I would give the base application of the danish oil plenty of cure time as Mtkate suggested.

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

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2366 posts in 2388 days

#4 posted 1543 days ago

FWIW I allow any finish that contains BLO to cure at least 5 days in a heated or air conditioned shop before applying any varnish/poly/lacquer finish over it.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View UncleSnail's profile


54 posts in 1543 days

#5 posted 1543 days ago

Walnut is absolutely beautiful….its my fav. I just rub tung oil in it. Dale

-- Dale, Michigan, objects scare wife scares me too.

View descout's profile


104 posts in 1597 days

#6 posted 1542 days ago

Will a lacquer over the top of the shellac work? I know the waxed shellac with not agree with the polyurethane but I am thinking lacquer would work for the top coat.

View GA_woodworker's profile


51 posts in 1627 days

#7 posted 1542 days ago

I am with UncleSnail on this one. Just use Tung Oil and let the wood come through.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3189 posts in 2463 days

#8 posted 1540 days ago

BLO, a tung oil finish (not raw tung oil), wiping varnish. ANYTHING BUT POLY. Do you get the feeling that I don’t use poly unless I’m forced to?


View Julian's profile


880 posts in 2028 days

#9 posted 1540 days ago

I’m with Bill on this one. Shy away from poly if at all possible. Once moisture gets behind it it looks terrible, and its a pain in the a#$ to refinish. I’d use blo, shellac, and either leave it at that or use a wiping varnish instead of a poly.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View Oakfan's profile


37 posts in 1540 days

#10 posted 1540 days ago

Do not use Poly for anything other than a Bar top, it takes away from the beauty of the wood. I agree with the Tung Oil and maybe a few coats of paste wax for added protection. Its all about the wood, isn’t it?

-- It's not the breaths U take but the moments that take your breath away !!

View WoodshopJoe's profile


99 posts in 1763 days

#11 posted 1540 days ago

I am working with some walnut right now as well. I typically use two coats Cabot’s Tung Oil Finish, because it looks good and cures faster than pure tung oil, then shellac because I like how it adds depth to the grain then topcoat with lacquer for added protection. I haven’t had any problems with it so far so until I do it’s a standard for me.

Good Luck!!!

-- Joe Truehart - The Craftsmans Woodshop

View Karson's profile


34797 posts in 2903 days

#12 posted 1540 days ago

I make my own Danish Oil Blend 1/3 BLO, 1/3 Mineral Spirits, 1/3 varnish and I’ll put maybe 1/2 a cap of Japan Drier in a cup of finish. it hardens up overnight. You cannot save any of the finish that has the Japan Drier put in it.

I put it on and after an hour or so I put another coat on again, I also sand it with 400 grit and the slurry pf walnut dust and oil fills the pores.

After it dries is cut the slurry off and try not to pull it out of the pores. Giving it a second day might help on that process. I use a scraper and cut across grain at a 45 deg angle to cut it off.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware †

View a1Jim's profile


109409 posts in 2080 days

#13 posted 1530 days ago

All great advise.

-- Custom furniture

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