What do you perfer and why Water base or Oil finish?

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Forum topic by Resurrected posted 02-16-2011 05:24 AM 1026 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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671 posts in 2718 days

02-16-2011 05:24 AM

Topic tags/keywords: resource

Just trying to get some logical reasoning. Personally I hate when I use oil base. Too many dust mites migrate to the finish before it drys. Stinks and takes longer to dry in the cold. On the other hand its a durable finish.

Whats your opinion

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5 replies so far

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#1 posted 02-16-2011 07:51 AM

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473 posts in 2987 days

#2 posted 02-16-2011 08:58 AM

i use water based beacause the brand i prefer has switched to water based, i think there is a regulation at least in europe, that forces manufactureres to switch over. it’s getting nearly impossible to find oil based laquers or varnishes besides poly.
the good thing about water based is that it dries verry fast, 2-3 coats in the same day, touch dry within 10 minutes.
it’s supposed to be healthier, but i don’t think so. you don’t really smell the fumes as bad as with oil based, so you don’t protect yourself as much.
another good point is that you can clean your stuff with water.
but i do think the finish is a little less “nice”, and touch ups are pretty much impossible, the slightest error will show. trying to touch up while the paint is still wet makes a mess.
thats my 2c

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Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3848 days

#3 posted 02-16-2011 12:15 PM

Resurrected, I only rarely use water base finishes. I just happen to like the “warmth” that oil base finishes give the wood due to the slight amber tint they impart to the wood. They are readily available and fairly economical to use. I generally apply them as a wipe-on rather than spraying since I just don’t have room to set up a spray booth in my shop for larger pieces. As far as the smell goes it really does not bother me so I don’t pay any attention to it.

As an alternative shellac is good finish. Multiple coats can be applied during the same day, the alcohol evaporates rapidly and it has very little odor.

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View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3077 days

#4 posted 02-16-2011 11:30 PM

I like oil based for the toughness, the way it makes grain pop, and because I’ve used it so much I know what to expect. My experience with water based is not good. The clear is lifeless, grain raising just causes another step, and I don’t think it’s as durable. Smell is not an issue with the finishes I have used. I LOVE the smell of blo, oil basd poly doesn’t have much of a smell, and if you need to thin you can with low-oder mineral spirits. Less significant is cost, but still water based is higher. Shellac is a good alternative and is far more durable and water resistant than is widely believed.


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

View Barbara Gill's profile

Barbara Gill

153 posts in 2687 days

#5 posted 02-17-2011 01:14 AM

My opinion is based on round work rather than flat work. For most of my bowls, plates, etc. I use a penetrating oil finish. For very light or white woods I use a water thin water based poly combined with fine sanding and a final coat of wax. For the inside of boxes I use walnut oil and a penetrating oil on the outside.
When I did flat work I never used a solvent based finish inside chests as it takes forever for the smell to go away.

-- Barbara

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