Question about burnishing

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Forum topic by Blackbear posted 10-26-2012 05:13 PM 2674 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Blackbear's profile


137 posts in 2419 days

10-26-2012 05:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question oak finishing burnish

I recently completed some cribbage boards as retirement gifts for 5 coworkers. The finish I used was Danish Oil, which I like a lot. This is the first time I used Danish Oil on Red Oak. Two weeks after the last coat was applied, the oil is still seeping slightly out of some of the open grain. One of the supervisors at work had the boards stacked in his desk drawer. I placed paper towels between each board, but he put a plastic bag on the top board. We went to get one of them to give out today, and there was a few half dollar sized lacquer pools that had dried on the surface. We both feverishly scrubbed the lacquer away with a paper towel. The result was a really nice burnished surface that was smoother and slightly more shiny than before.

Now I thought I had been burnishing a bit with some 000 steel wool after the last coat cured for a few days. It seems like the paper towel did a much better job however, which raises the following three questions to the more experienced woodworkers around here:

1. What kind of finishes do you typically burnish?
2. What cloth/tool do you use to burnish?
3. Do you always burnish, or only specific types of projects?

Thanks in advance.

5 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5124 posts in 4160 days

#1 posted 10-26-2012 05:37 PM

Burnished wooden objects with a brown (kraft) paper bag material will yield a very nice finish. The brown paper is just abrasive enough to polish. I use it on lathe projects with wax finishes as well as wiping varnish.


View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 3942 days

#2 posted 10-26-2012 07:55 PM

Depending on size, you can also use a very old trick: rubbing with a piece of smooth bone or even the smooth side of an old plastic toothbrush. The pressure seems to really help close open pores in the wood. I remember “boning”(as it is called) the stock of an old Springfield ‘o3 until it was glassy smooth.

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2891 days

#3 posted 10-26-2012 08:05 PM

Every once in a while when you are asked, “Paper or plastic?” get the paper. Burnishing doesn’t necesscerily mean polishing, it depends how far you take it. I always burnish my kitchen doors and drawer fronts because it make a smoother surface that customers love.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 3152 days

#4 posted 10-26-2012 08:10 PM

Burnishing is also effective when you use shavings from the wood you are working with. Save your shavings from planing, gather them up and start rubbing away with them. Obviously you need your plane set to take whispy shavings. It works great!

Good Luck!

-- Mike

View Blackbear's profile


137 posts in 2419 days

#5 posted 10-27-2012 01:08 AM

Thanks all! Do you usually burnish most types of finish you use?

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