Finishing in general

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by richgreer posted 04-06-2010 05:28 PM 1188 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3313 days

04-06-2010 05:28 PM

I’ve seen lots of advice that could be labelled, “this is how I do my finishing”. That advice is often helpful. Nonetheless, I am often mystified by all the finishing options available. We have shellacs, lacquers, varnishes, polys, etc. We have products designated as sanding finishers, conditioners, top coats etc. We have a number of products that are only identified by their marketing names such as Minwax Antique Oil or Waterlox. Of course, we have tung oil, BLO, mineral oil etc.

Is there such a thing as a comprehensive guide to all these finishing options with advice on what works with what and under what conditions you should use X, Y, or Z?

I think we all have a sense for what works for us but I know, in my own case, I would like to know if there are better options available for certain situations and I don’t want to just randomly experiment.

Does anyone know of a good book that addresses this issue in a comprehensive fashion?

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

8 replies so far

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 3972 days

#1 posted 04-06-2010 06:17 PM

I haven’t yet seen Michael Dresdner’s new book, “The New Wood Finishing Book” but the original was pretty much the “bible” of wood finishing. He covers pretty much every type of finish and provides a wealth of tips and techniques. A good read for anyone interested in expanding their finishing talents.


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View tbone's profile


276 posts in 3923 days

#2 posted 04-06-2010 06:19 PM
This might be helpful—though not all-inclusive.
There’s plenty of good books out there, but I like Michael Dresdner’s “The New Wood Finishing Book”
He’s got a nice chart on choosing a finish on page 19 of that book.

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4256 posts in 3403 days

#3 posted 04-06-2010 07:29 PM

I have Jeff Jewitts “Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Finishing”. This book has a very comprehensive section on choosing a finish. Copywrite is 2004, but it seems well organized and modern. Think I bought it at Barnes and Noble. I have two other smaller books, but they are not designed in such a specific way to help you choose a finish.


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View BOB67CAM's profile


269 posts in 3310 days

#4 posted 04-06-2010 07:45 PM

i bought the e-book from dredsner called wood finishing fixes which ill admit did seem to leave some things out but that maybe was because it was based more on fixing finishes but it was cheap and did answer a ton of questions and i would recomend it pretty highly to anyone

-- if you dont have it, build it, especially when its a stupid idea

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3719 days

#5 posted 04-06-2010 08:40 PM

I happen to use Bob Flexner’s book “Understanding Wood Finishing.” Its pretty comprehensive and is published by Rodale Books.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3313 days

#6 posted 04-06-2010 08:48 PM

Once again, I thank you all for your great advice. The LJs must be the most helpful group of people on the internet.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3525 days

#7 posted 04-07-2010 09:30 PM

Rich, this is a little different perpective on your question so take it for what it is—my opinion. First of all, books are great and I’m sure they would be very helpful as they explain the basic difference between types of finishes and what the best applications are.

I grew up in a commercial shop setting, so we only bought from professional paint stores. Those guys typically know their stuff, so the input from them is very helpful. After reading a lot on the internet the last few years from people all over the world, I have noticed that often the brands mentioned are not available here. I prefer not to buy finishes online unless I have to so I tend to chose what I can buy here. That’s where the pro stores come in. They not only can supply the product, they can explain them to you. You rarely get that kind of help at the box stores. (Of course that applies for tools also, but that’s another story) I can’t count the times I have had a problem and got the answer that way. All this said, if you live in a small town, this may not be an option for you—-but it might help someone else.


View CaptainSkully's profile


1607 posts in 3797 days

#8 posted 04-08-2010 03:08 AM

I must have twenty pieces of QSWO with all kind of combinations and permutations of finishes tried on them and written on the back. Yes, I’ve p*ed all kinds of money away on TransTint and Minwax, etc. but at least I know what works and doesn’t work now. Actually, I’m still working on my “true” Arts & Crafts finish. Like my woodworking, my finishing is an evolving process.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics