Finish on Sapele planter boxes

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Forum topic by Sawfish99 posted 06-14-2011 04:22 PM 4788 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 2775 days

06-14-2011 04:22 PM

I am working on making 2 small planter boxes for flowers. They will be roughly a 12” cube with legs that hold it off the ground and designed to put a potted flower inside. The wood I am using is Sapele (because I had it). These are a gift so I don’t know if they will be used inside or outside.

My question is: what would you use for a finish or would you leave it unfinished? Unfortunately, my wife popped this project on me yesterday and has to be completed by Friday. So basically, I need to be at the finishing stage tomorrow night.

7 replies so far

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4242 days

#1 posted 06-14-2011 05:08 PM

I vote unfinished. I’d even recommend it be put outside a year to turn a wonderful silver/grey.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

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Steven H

1117 posts in 3296 days

#2 posted 06-14-2011 05:21 PM

If you dont mind maintaining it every year, then use marine grade varnish.

If your lazy, then leave it un finished.

View stnich's profile


122 posts in 3161 days

#3 posted 06-14-2011 11:47 PM

If you must put a finish on it one of the best exterior finishes that I’ve used is Sikkens. It can be tough to find but worth the effort. I use Sapele all the time for interior projects and love the way it looks with a clear finish. It really brings out the depth of the grain in the wood. I’ve read many a post that talks about drying time on Sikkens. It appears to never really set up to the point where you can sand it and get dust. It’s been suggested that you just knock down the raised grain with a scotch brite type pad instead of sanding. Naturally you’ll have to maintain it if you put a finish on it.

View BobTheFish's profile


361 posts in 2788 days

#4 posted 06-15-2011 12:22 AM

I LOVE Sapele. It’s also one of the few woods I think really looks good with a clear or epoxy finish, which can go well with the dimensional grain you tend to get with the wood. And it can really work with the more amberish finishes, which sometimes can look like discolorization with other woods.

I would suggest the marine quality varnishes or an epoxy regardless. It’s going to be hit with water regardless, so may as well prepare for it.

View zzzzdoc's profile


550 posts in 3239 days

#5 posted 06-15-2011 06:53 PM

I love sapele also. Lately I’ve been doing most of my projects with it. Personally, I vote for clear marine varnish, but I do inside work so I’m not expert in that. Epifanes always is rated highly.

-- Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

View Sawfish99's profile


3 posts in 2775 days

#6 posted 06-15-2011 08:42 PM

Looks like a marine varnish is the winner. My wife would not allow the unfinished arguement. Amazing how much of a vote she gets relative to the amount of time she participates in the project.

View Sawfish99's profile


3 posts in 2775 days

#7 posted 06-17-2011 04:43 AM

The planters are done and being delivered tomorrow. The rails are african mahogany. The legs, panels, and bottom are sapele. The medallion is maple and the images on the medallions were drawn by my kids and burned on by me. I ended up using Minwax Spar Urethane for the finish.

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