First time finishing. Help needed.

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Forum topic by econsigny posted 12-05-2011 09:25 PM 1140 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View econsigny's profile


9 posts in 2570 days

12-05-2011 09:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut tung oil dark finish

I have a slab of walnut which I am mounting on hairpin legs as a coffee table. I believe the slab is mostly sapwood (is there a way to tell beyond it just looks light?). I have never finished anything before, but I’ve done some fair amount of research. My questions are:

I want the finish to be dark. What ways can I achieve this easily?
I’ve heard of Tung Oil and BLO a lot, does this work?
I love old antique furniture that had a patina to it, almost a waxy feel. Is there a way to achieve this on a newly finished slab?

The slab does need some protection, but it’s not going to be our dining table per-se.

Let me know your thoughts, and please, be thorough. I’m learning.

7 replies so far

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2899 days

#1 posted 12-05-2011 09:58 PM

For walnut, I’m a big fan of Watco Danish Oil. I usually put a top coat of polyurathane on top if it needs to resist water, otherwise some paste wax makes it look amazing.

If you plan on setting drinks down without coasters, plan on a nice hard, protective finish.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5135 posts in 4166 days

#2 posted 12-05-2011 10:03 PM

Any way of sending pics? I don’t have a prob with sap wood in walnut, but that’s just me. If ya want to even the color, I’d use a wash coat of de-waxed shellac (Zinsser Seal coat cut 50/50 with denatured alcohol), use a wiping stain of you choice to achieve the color ya want-sample color testing piece required-then a wiping varnish to finish off the piece. You might have to apply several coats for final finish. One coat ain’t gonna get it.
Having said that, we didn’t even talk about sanding. I would sand to about a 220 grit, wipe with a damp rag (water) to raise the grain, seal coat, scuff sand with the 220 to knock off the nibs, stain, finish coats.
Just a hint:
I start with a gloss finish ‘cause it will keep the depth, then I will rub it down with 0000 steel wool or a non-woven pad to the sheen I want.


View pintodeluxe's profile


5798 posts in 3019 days

#3 posted 12-05-2011 10:44 PM

Rodda stains are my favorite for covering sap wood. They have a higher solid content than most stains, and that really makes the difference with sapwood.
Lacquer is my choice for a topcoat.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View DHaden's profile


77 posts in 2865 days

#4 posted 12-05-2011 10:45 PM

I am with Stretch on the Watco. It is the only thing I have used on the few walnut projects I have done and I think it really brings out the beauty of the wood. It will darken the walnut considerably in my opinion.

-- Measure once, cut twice.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19018 posts in 2773 days

#5 posted 12-05-2011 10:49 PM

I’m with Dan, Watco Danish Oil. I will often use BLO after it, or if I want it to not be as dark as the Watco Danish Oil I have, I’ll do a coat of BLO first.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2899 days

#6 posted 12-05-2011 11:49 PM

Danish Oil isn’t so much an oil by itself.. It usually consists of mineral spirits, an oil of some sort, and a varnish/poly part. That’s why I like it as a finish in and of itself.. You can also make it yourself and save quite a bit of money (and by using better ingredients than a store-bought brand might have)

Personally, I love a heartwood/sapwood mix if the piece is going to be solely walnut. It adds a nice contrast. If you’re mixing in other woods (like maple or oak), either trim off or dye the sapwood.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View KenBry's profile


484 posts in 2653 days

#7 posted 12-06-2011 12:05 AM

I used Arm R Seal on my End Table (see projects) the Gloss came out so nice.

-- Ken, USAF MSgt, Ret.

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