• Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Kathy posted 08-19-2010 01:09 PM 1199 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Kathy's profile


210 posts in 2916 days

08-19-2010 01:09 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

I have become overwhelmed by the information on wood finishing. I have always stained and then used poly. It is obviously not the only way. I have been browsing the catalogs and the choices are just too much. What is your favorite way to finish a project and why?

Please be specific, for example, if you use tung oil, is it pure oil or does it have poly in it, etc. Why do you use it and what kind of finish does it make?

Many of you use “Danish Oil”. Do you use the kind with a stain in it or plain?

After you have “oiled” do you put another finish on top of it?

Thank you!

-- curious woodworker

7 replies so far

View barryvabeach's profile


159 posts in 3038 days

#1 posted 08-19-2010 01:17 PM

Check out Flexner’s book on finishing – it goes into all the differences of each of the finishes. The fastest way to finish most projects is to apply the finish by spraying. As a hobbyist, I don’t have the space, or want to spend the money, to equip an area to handle flammable coatings, so by process of elimination I spray water based coatings. Danish Oil can give a nice result, though it takes quite some time to apply and I don’t have that patience.

View AnthonyC's profile


50 posts in 2901 days

#2 posted 08-19-2010 02:00 PM

Amen to finishing confusion. I have been going over finishing options for my kitchen cabinets and it has been making my head spin. I’ve read everything from nice enamel paints to four step finishes to wipe on poly.

As for Tung oil, I remember D. Marks talking about it on a show or his website. Apparently pure tung oil is hard to come by and many that call themselves tung oil are a mixed tung/wiping poly or something similar.

I don’t mind poly for darker projects, but it most definitely yellows lighter ones over time. I found the water based poly adds a bluish tint—again, not so bad on a darker wood.

I have the Jewitt book on finishing, and while a good reference, there is almost too much info!

Good luck.

-- Amateur woodworker, professional mess-maker.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3816 days

#3 posted 08-19-2010 02:04 PM

Kathy, my finishing technique depends largely on the intended use of the project and the wood. If it is going to come into contact with water or a moist area, kitchen or bathroom for example, I go to boiled linseed oil and poly. If it is largely going to be for display then I like shellac.

I rarely use any of the commercial oil finishes- danish, teak. This is largely due to their simply being formulations of raw or boiled linseed oil, varnish and mineral spirits. I can formulate these in my shop far cheaper than paying for commercial versions. If I am going to go this route I will simply make up a mix of equal parts of boiled linseed oil, poly and mineral spirits.

I will second Barry’s recommendation to read Bob Flexner’s book, Understanding Wood Finishing.... I would also suggest looking a Jeff Jewitt’s books on finishing as well. Both resources have been invaluable to me in learning to finish. And, of course, don’t forget about Charles Neil. He is a wealth of information on finishing.

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

View FatScratch's profile


189 posts in 3297 days

#4 posted 08-19-2010 02:44 PM

Kathy, I agree with you and the previous posts that the number, type, methods, etc. for finishing seem endless. I have really taken a liking to oil, such as linseed or Danish oil, then a few thin coats of shellac, then wax. I typically go for a more “natural” look to the wood. I don’t really care for the plasticy look of most poly. However, if something I make is going to see a lot of wear, I might go with something a little more durable, such as General Finishes Arm-r-seal. I took an afternoon class at Woodcraft on finishing, which was a really nice overview. The WoodWhisperer podcasts and Charles Neil videos on Youtube are great introductions as well.

View Kathy's profile


210 posts in 2916 days

#5 posted 08-19-2010 02:45 PM

LOL you guys are always making me read more books!!!!!!! I have done a lot of that and I know the mechanics of finishing. I want to know what do you LIKE the best and why? What is the finish that you get that you prefer and why??

-- curious woodworker

View mnguy's profile


193 posts in 3392 days

#6 posted 08-19-2010 03:11 PM

The challenge is that the best or favorite finish varies with the end use of the piece, and with the wood type, design elements of the project, etc. Wipe on finishes have the advantages of being easy to apply and, IMO, of being less likely to pick up dust, etc. between coats.

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3138 days

#7 posted 08-19-2010 05:59 PM

Since it’s part of my favorite finish thought I’d throw in a couple ideas on using Tung Oil.

100% Tung Oil can be bought readily at Woodcraft or Rockler. It is on the expensive side, around $13-14 per quart.

Appearance is similar to a minute after you wipe a board with mineral spirits; wet wood. It can be used above a stain.

Durability is decent, water resistance is good but scratch resistance is fairly low. The other half of the finish is a top coat of shellac.

The biggest disadvantage against a BLO, “Tung Oil” Varnish or other topcoat finish is the drying time required, a minimum of 2-3 days per coat.

Let me repeat that; two to three days between coats.

Also, you’ll need to apply somewhere between 6-8 coats, including the initial wash (thinned) coat.

In a hobbyist shop where you’re primary work days are the weekend and you can spare a few minutes every couple days to work on the between coats it doesn’t kill you to spend a month on a finish. Ad until you top-coat you can keep putting layers on, in place if necessary. However, the wet smell is not pleasant; far from vile but also not quite roses.

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