Question about finishes..

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Forum topic by steelshot posted 08-26-2010 03:07 AM 1394 views 1 time favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 3297 days

08-26-2010 03:07 AM

I haven’t worked with walnut a whole lot, and was wondering what a good finish would be to really make the grain pop.

9 replies so far

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Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4027 days

#1 posted 08-26-2010 04:09 AM

Steelshot, this is really a tough question to answer since it really depends on the project. For example, here is a method to “pop” the grain in quartersawn white oak that was posted by Tim Pursell. This is an involved routine that is a challenge but the end result is certainly worth the effort.

One routine that I like to use for cherry is to start with a base coat of boiled linseed oil and then either apply a seal coat of shellac or topcoat it with wipe on polyurethane. I generally apply these as separate steps but a popular finishing mixture of equal parts of boiled linseed oil, oil base polyurethane and mineral spirits will produce the same results.

If you have not seen it Pop Goes the Maple is a pretty good tutorial produced by Marc Spagnolo. In the video Marc describes how he accentuates the grain in curly maple.

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

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3993 days

#2 posted 08-26-2010 04:20 AM

I have had good results with the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 mix of boiled linseed oil, poly, and mineral spirits, wiped on. That said, Behlens Rock Hard Table Finish also works very good straight from the can (brushes on nice and levels well with a good bristle brush) if you want a more amber finish and need a tough surface.


-- Go

View a1Jim's profile


117342 posts in 3783 days

#3 posted 08-26-2010 04:27 AM

Here’s the guy who knows finishing and he would never use any kind of mixture with Boiled linseed or any other type or linseed oil. In my estimate it has to be the the worst old fashion so called finish out there. Sorry to the other Guys that use it.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View steelshot's profile


5 posts in 3297 days

#4 posted 08-27-2010 01:47 AM

Thanks for the info, I will try a couple things mentioned and see how it turns out.

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3993 days

#5 posted 08-27-2010 04:53 AM

Boiled linseed oil will add a bit of amber when using poly, that otherwise would be achieved by using a traditional varnish. It does not add any protective qualities. Once you achieve the color you want, additional coats should be straight poly. Poly will also darken and yellow over time. However, the BLO does not detract anything from the finish if multiple coats are used.

As for the video link, I do the same with oil based stains (i.e. wipe it in and remove it from the harder grain areas) instead of just laying on a masking film. Works the same whether water based (acrylic plastic) or oil based.

Altho acrylics are touted for their clarity, I think they still have to pass the test of time. I worked in the aircraft industry in the coatings field for over 35 years. Water based coating were introduced about 10 years into my tenure in that field (which ended 5 years ago). They are more environmentally friendly (in the application arena, not necessarily in the production arena) but never measured up in the durability to abrasion, ultraviolet degradation, or moisture penetration to organic coatings. Thankfully they have now equaled organics in the adhesion area.



-- Go

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4099 days

#6 posted 08-27-2010 05:40 AM

the combinations and permutations of ”whats the best finish for walnut” are limiitless

lacquer is somewhat “fail safe” as is “poly”.......”oil”................chances are that if you have little experience with working and finishing walnut that you have little experince with finishing anything.

I used to like oils like “Circa 1887” ? and I remember good results.

simple if you can read the directions yet painful as it needs to be, occasionally, re-applied.

I must admit that my only experience with BLO + thinner ++++........................was a stinky problem but am guessing I got the recipe wrong as well as the application teckniques wrong too?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View gagewestern's profile


308 posts in 3556 days

#7 posted 08-27-2010 10:03 PM

shellac is my fav.also

-- gagewestern

View rusticandy's profile


110 posts in 3735 days

#8 posted 08-29-2010 08:27 AM

Shellac- it behaves the best

-- rustic andy

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3350 days

#9 posted 08-30-2010 05:42 PM

Pure Tung Oil and Dark Finishing Wax. If you need it to be more durable substitute laquer for the wax.

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