Finishing help needed. I can't decide!

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Forum topic by dbhost posted 02-12-2011 04:54 AM 1077 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5590 posts in 2655 days

02-12-2011 04:54 AM

I am working on LOML’s Valentine’s day gift, a heart shaped band saw box. My first free form band saw box for what it’s worth… I am using curly maple and walnut, and I am wondering what to finish this thing with. I am thinking Watco and Lacquer, but I could also go urethane. Which is the better way to go?

-- My workshop blog can be found at

10 replies so far

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3945 posts in 2588 days

#1 posted 02-12-2011 04:59 AM

Out of my sphere of expertise…......sorry….........

But what a wonderful gift……......

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Dark_Lightning's profile


2620 posts in 2532 days

#2 posted 02-12-2011 05:08 AM

Well, it’s completely personal on the choice, but I prefer nitrocellulose lacquer for it’s quick drying time and the way it can be polished (think car finish shiny). But, it yellows over time, and if you don’t like that, go with a poly, like the Minwax water base. I’ve gotten good results with it, even when sprayed when they say don’t do that. If you want to start with an orangish to clear finish, you can go with shellac, which should actually have been listed as my second choice. It’s also really quick drying, and easy to polish to a high luster.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View AaronK's profile


1438 posts in 2888 days

#3 posted 02-12-2011 05:56 AM

also a personal choice, but for something like that – it doesn’t need much protection, so I would use a very light finish, whichever one you choose (ie, if urethane just a couple coats of it very thinned).

View Don's profile


514 posts in 2496 days

#4 posted 02-12-2011 06:03 AM

Shellac and wax. Or maybe wipe on poly.

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

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 2474 days

#5 posted 02-12-2011 06:17 AM

You’re going to sand it smooth anyway (320, 400?) so minimal finish is needed. I vote for a quick couple coats of laquer with beeswax rubbed out real nicely. How ‘bout a picture when you’re done?


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Jesse 's profile


105 posts in 2285 days

#6 posted 02-12-2011 09:35 AM

My vote is General Finishes Arm-R-Seal. It is an oil/poly blend. It will give the figure pop of an oil finish to accent your curly maple and also a strong protective finish of a poly. Three coats or so and it will be ready to withstand the agony of love:D Plus, it’s a wipe on finish that self levels…so fairly fool-proof and easy to work around all the bends associated with a bandsaw box. ( Recommend a foam brush )

Side note: If you do go this route, be aware that this is a reactive finish. Buy a small can for a small project, once the can is opened the shelf life drops to months.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2498 days

#7 posted 02-12-2011 04:29 PM

This is one of those subjects where if you ask 10 woodworkers you will get, at least, 10 different opinions. I use several different finishes depending on the look I want and the need for durability. For a Valentines Day box I think I would use Shellac and then I would buff it with my 3 step Beall buffing system.

This is my maximum shine, limited durability finish.

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

View dbhost's profile


5590 posts in 2655 days

#8 posted 02-12-2011 09:22 PM

Unfortunately, I need to make do with what I have on hand until next week. I have the box almost all the way sanded, I need to make and install the pulls (it is a through drawer, not a stopped drawer), finish it, and flock the drawer…

I did some test finishes on the cutoffs last night, and I am REALLY liking the BLO / Lacquer that I did the best. Slight yellowing, lots of gloss, and it REALLY brings the striping texture of the maple out…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View woodjewelry's profile


49 posts in 2331 days

#9 posted 02-12-2011 11:36 PM

If its for valentines day then go with the lacquer, If you have any problems then there will still be time to refinish, with the varnish it will be two late to repair a mistake.

I think both would be suitable finishes this project, if time were not a factor.

-- Mark, Lithuania,

View dbhost's profile


5590 posts in 2655 days

#10 posted 02-13-2011 08:23 AM

Thanks for the help. I have started the finishing process, and I am going with Watco and lacquer. I am NOT looking forward to applying the lacquer as I will need to do that outside, that stuff will overwhelm the entire house, not just the shop… I guess I will take a drop cloth out to the truck and do it there weather permitting…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

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