Finish for Red Oak

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Forum topic by nailhead49 posted 05-06-2010 12:28 AM 5220 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 3232 days

05-06-2010 12:28 AM

I’m going to use Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellac (Amber) for base then put General Finishes Antique Walnut Gel Stain on next with a top coat of Wipe-on Poly. (Going to cut the Shellac to 2 lb). Does anybody see any problems with this? I want to thank you in advance because I sometimes forget to do so. Thank You
ps. It’s Norms Library Table.

-- David R

10 replies so far

View Don's profile


517 posts in 3071 days

#1 posted 05-06-2010 02:50 AM

Make sure to use de-waxed shellac and you should be fine. Polyurethane finishes can peel if applied on top of shellac that hasn’t been de-waxed.

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View Ted Pagels's profile

Ted Pagels

63 posts in 3060 days

#2 posted 05-06-2010 02:59 AM


I don’t see the need for shellac. For many years I have had great results from using Minwax stains wiped on and Minwax polyurethane varnishes applied with a good brush applied on well sanded (220 grit final) red oak. “Special Walnut” and “Fruitwood” are my favorite shades of stain on red oak. I lightly sand with 400 grit in between 2-3 coats and for a final satin finish rub out with 0000 steel wool and lemon oil.

Good Luck!


-- Ted Pagels, Green Bay, WI

View doyoulikegumwood's profile


384 posts in 3990 days

#3 posted 05-06-2010 07:06 AM

this is the right thing to do if you have allot of color veryation. it will allow you to even out the color well

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View wisno's profile


88 posts in 3009 days

#4 posted 05-06-2010 04:24 PM

Agree with David.
I prefer to use stain without any wax then followed with the Polyurethane sealer and top coat. to even the color we can do with sap stain and equalizer stain.
But this method need to do with spray system, do you have the facilitation to do that?


View CaptainSkully's profile


1598 posts in 3556 days

#5 posted 05-06-2010 07:25 PM

I think that recipe sounds great. The amber shellac will create a warm undertone beneath the walnut gel stain. This gives depth to the finish that you can’t get with Minwax & poly. It should make the red oak very rich looking, as red oak has dramatic grain structure. Make sure to do a test piece before committing. Depending on how much you cut the shellac, you may not have much time to do more than wipe it on before it starts to tack up. I’ve been compiling finish recipes here:

Is this the project you’re working on?

Norm's Library Table

P.S. Dusty makes some of the most beautiful red oak stuff on LJ’s. I think his recipe is on here somewhere.

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

View nailhead49's profile


8 posts in 3232 days

#6 posted 05-06-2010 09:25 PM

Thanks for the response, but now I’m confused, first I don’t have spray system. also Don said Polyurethane can peel sometimes with wax shellac. I was going to cut the Shellac to 2 lb or should I go to 1 lb? I was going to go with a recipe I found in American Woodworker called Golden Oak: 1. J.E.Moser’s Wizard Tints honey amber dye to the bare wood 2. Seal with shellac & scuff-sand 3.Glaze with Minwax walnut gel stain 4. same as 2 5.topcoat of choice. but the guy at woodcraft talk me out of it & go with the recipe I posted. I’ve been woodworking for a while, but never perfected my finishing, not to smart on my part. What I want is a worm look & the grain high-lighted dark. Again, thanks for all the help. David

-- David R

View doyoulikegumwood's profile


384 posts in 3990 days

#7 posted 05-06-2010 11:33 PM

well dave don’t despair you can go with the golden oak method as well actually on my first post i was going to suggest you do something under the shellac.

but you know what they say about opinions if you don’t have it and want to expand your knowledge on finishes i would get my hands on bob flexners book a ton can be learned there but both methods that you are looking to use will work just fine remember to let each step cure tho

good luck

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View Viking's profile


880 posts in 3193 days

#8 posted 05-07-2010 12:06 AM


+ 1 for the Minwax stain/sealer finished with 2-3 coats of the Minwax Poly. Great durable finish and saves you the shellac step. All our cabinets at the ranch are knotty alder or red oak and they really look nice.

Good Luck!

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View nailhead49's profile


8 posts in 3232 days

#9 posted 05-07-2010 02:08 AM

Jason, I actually have a book by Bob Flexner, “Understanding Wood Finishing” I think I’m going to go with what I wanted to do in the first place, go with the recipe in American Woodworker, I think, maybe, I don’t know. Thanks for all the tips, you guys are great.

-- David R

View Stevinmarin's profile


838 posts in 3073 days

#10 posted 05-07-2010 06:27 AM

The shellac is basically a sealer coat to freeze the wood fibers before applying a top coat. I’ve had pretty good results simply cutting polyurethane 50/50 with mineral spirits and slopping it on as a sealer coat.

But lately I’ve been getting away from poly and using lacquer on almost everything. It’s just a lot quicker.

-- Entertainment for mere mortal woodworkers.

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