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Forum topic by Aaron McCain posted 08-18-2010 06:08 PM 1178 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Aaron McCain

125 posts in 2867 days

08-18-2010 06:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question beech finishing

I am in the process of finishing up my new work table. The working surface is two layers of 3/4-inch MDF with a exchangeable 1/4-inch hardboard surface. I am trimming the table surface with European Beech which I’ve learned is pretty hard and will be a good durable edge for quite awhile.

I’m looking for recommendations on how to protect the wood. What type of finish should I use?

8 replies so far

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 2988 days

#1 posted 08-18-2010 08:12 PM

i use linseed oil mixed with turpentine, or BLO, on my worksurfaces.
it doesn’t protect against scratches knocks or anything, what it does is keep the materials properties (not turning it into plastic like poly or varnisch would) while rendering it almost impermeable to glue or paint drops. they are cleaned off easily.

one other advantage is that when theres dried up glue, scratches or stains on it, you can go over it with a verry fine grit sandpaper with the ROS, and re-apply a coat of BLO. the surface is back as good as new and inmediately usable.

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2968 days

#2 posted 08-18-2010 08:57 PM

I’m with Greedo, BLO is the way to go.

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4153 days

#3 posted 08-18-2010 10:17 PM

I was gonna pop in here to say that for heavy duty surfaces, I like the water based floor polyurethane that I’ve been getting from the local paint store that has warnings against direct skin contact while it’s wet, but it’s really hard to keep it flat, which I think is important in a workbench.

So, yeah, sounds like these other guys have better advice than me.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Aaron McCain's profile

Aaron McCain

125 posts in 2867 days

#4 posted 08-18-2010 11:15 PM

I am new to the whole finishing game, so please forgive a basic follow up question. I have a product by Watco labeled “Danish Oil Finish”. How does that differ from BLO?

View CloseShave's profile


5 posts in 2881 days

#5 posted 08-18-2010 11:42 PM

I made my assembly table a torsion box with MDF skins. The edge was trimmed with some maple I had around. I finished it with 3 coats of oil based polyurethane. I didn’t use the water based poly b/c I was told it would absorb into the MDF and distort it. I can believe this b/c MDF is sensitive to water. The oil based poly worked great, light sanding w/220 between coats. Take a look at the pictures of my shop, there’s a shot of the bench top.

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 2988 days

#6 posted 08-19-2010 07:41 AM

i don’t know danish oil here, but according to wikipedia it’s sort of the same. it’s a polymerised oil.
i make my own mix by mixing 50/50 linseed oil with thurpentine oil, it’s quite cheap that way and natural.
thurpentine is just distillated woodsap, it protects the wood from fungus and other bad stuff, and without it the linseed oil wouldn’t dry.

@ closeshaven i use acrylic varnish on mdf and for some reason it doesn’t distort or inflates the mdf, it could be the same with waterbased poly?

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3086 days

#7 posted 08-19-2010 08:37 AM

Boiled Linseed Oil, Tung Oil, Danish Oil, as well as some others, are all curing oils extracted from various plants. As a general rule, this type of finish will seal the surface and prevent things like glues and paints from penetrating the surface, but they will offer very little in the way of buildup and thus protection against scratches and dings in the surface. However, this is a work surface and it is made of mdf. All you need is something that helps to keep your glue up projects and such as that from sticking to the work surface and things like that. It’s not like your trying to create a french polish finish. It’s going to get dings and scratches, if you use it. That’s what it is there for.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4155 days

#8 posted 08-19-2010 12:20 PM

Properly applied, BLO will cure without being diluted with solvents.

Danish Oil isn’t oil. It’s a product that contains oil, and in most cases, only a small amount of oil.
Watco brand Danish Oil is diluted with about 75% solvents, and is a mixture of raw linseed oil, other oils, resin and gilsonite. It is not designed for building a protective finish.

-- 温故知新

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