Scared of finishing..

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by 6t5Goat posted 04-05-2013 04:53 PM 1272 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View 6t5Goat's profile


71 posts in 3210 days

04-05-2013 04:53 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing

So.. I’m a bit scared of finishing.. I’ve got three projects completed and assembled.. but have yet to put any finish on any of them.. Blanket Chest/Doll Bed/ and Shop Desk.. I want to finish these projects and get them up out of the basement workshop.. I’ve started a workbench project and need the space..

The first is a slant top desk that I plan on using in the shop.. Its made of Curly Beatle Kill Maple.. I want the curl to pop.. as well as the gray streaks stand out.. and becouse it is technically shop furnature I’d like to experment..

I don’t have much experence with anything other than Tung Oil on a box.. and Stain and poly on small projects…

What finish would you put on this desk? (the blanket chest is in the background of this photo.. )

I hope to post 3 finished project in the near future..

14 replies so far

View mds2's profile


310 posts in 2143 days

#1 posted 04-05-2013 04:55 PM

Practice, practice practice. On scraps.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5798 posts in 3012 days

#2 posted 04-05-2013 05:04 PM

My preferance is oil based stain, with a pre-catalyzed lacquer topcoat.
You can use dye before the stain to add extra contrast with figured wood. However, that adds some extra steps and you have to be careful to avoid streaking of the dye. Sometimes you will need to sand after dye application if the grain is raised.
If you want a simple process that is repeatable, oil based stain and sprayed lacquer is tough to beat.

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

View Airspeed's profile


452 posts in 2101 days

#3 posted 04-05-2013 05:07 PM

I would put some clear urethane on the desk and call it good! Throw some on a scrap to get an idea what it will look like. Don’t be afraid, mistakes are lessons, you will be building lots of stuff in your life so you’re allowed to make mistakes on a few of them. Nice desk by the way!


View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2889 days

#4 posted 04-05-2013 05:25 PM

I would spray shellac. Stain will help the curl pop but will obscure the grey. Zinsser Bullseye Shellac (Amber) will make it pop without stain.

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

View 6t5Goat's profile


71 posts in 3210 days

#5 posted 04-05-2013 05:29 PM

Sometimes I drink Scotch while in the shop (relaxing in the shop and drinking.. not working with tools).. does this eliminate the Shellac?

View Airspeed's profile


452 posts in 2101 days

#6 posted 04-05-2013 05:34 PM

The scotch will only eliminate the shellac if you drink too much and barf on your project!


View newwoodbutcher's profile


777 posts in 3049 days

#7 posted 04-05-2013 06:55 PM

Test, test, test. On scraps of the same material all the way to the last top coat

-- Ken

View chrisstef's profile


17761 posts in 3205 days

#8 posted 04-05-2013 07:06 PM

Water based dyes can get you some really cool colors on curly maple. Shellac will also do really well. For ease of use i really like general finishes arm-a-seal.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3776 days

#9 posted 04-05-2013 07:39 PM

Charles Neil is the best finishing experts around and he’s always more than happy to help anyone that sends him a PM or e-mail,he just loves helping folks
shoot him a PM

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30052 posts in 2537 days

#10 posted 04-05-2013 07:49 PM

My preference is Danish Oil and either water based or wipe on poly.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View kizerpea's profile


775 posts in 2566 days

#11 posted 04-06-2013 11:42 AM

amber shellac will make it POP!!!!


View upinflames's profile


217 posts in 2361 days

#12 posted 04-06-2013 12:36 PM

1/3 BLO,1/3 naptha or MS, 1/3 your choice of varnish. Apply a good coat and let it sit for 5 minutes or so, don’t wipe off excess from first coat, apply second coat, let it stand for 10- 15 minutes, wipe off excess. Let it dry overnight, get some paste wax and rub it down, buff it out, stand back and say ” WOW”.

View OSU55's profile


1962 posts in 2188 days

#13 posted 04-06-2013 01:53 PM

I highly recommend a book, great wood finishes by Jeff Jewitt. Another pretty good book is understanding wood finishing by Bob Flexner. Understanding the different finishes available and the pros and cons of each is the first step to get over your anxiety with finishing. I much prefer to spray my finishes. I use waterborne finishes and compatible stains and dyes (trans tint is wonderful and is very easy to use). I also use shellac, flakes that I dissolve myself. Waterborne finishes are not explosive like lacquer and do not smell near as bad as polyurethane And are much easier and cheaper to set up for spray. Target Coatings makes excellent waterborne topcoats as well as some Tinted products. If you are wanting to get a finish on these items and get them out of your shop quickly I would recommend good old polyurethane and a very good brush. A little Internet research will give you some ideas on how to best pop the grain in the maple. It does involve multiple steps.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3049 days

#14 posted 04-06-2013 01:53 PM

This is a terrific opportunity to start with the basics.

My counsel is to buy a quart of good varnish. (I prefer Sherwin Williams, no connection.) The sheen of your choice: gloss, semi gloss or satin. Just avoid the cheap brands. While you’re at the paint store, buy a good brush (2 1/2 inches, say). Spend as much as you can. A good brush is long term investment. Buy some filters. Use one (and throw it away) every time you apply a coat of finish

Brush on the varnish following the instructions on the can. 3 coats.

What you will learn: How the material flows on. The value of horizontal light. How long it takes to dry in your particular environment. How to properly clean a brush. What a good varnish finish looks like.

While it is true that a specific piece of wood may benefit from a Betty Crocker approach, it is my belief that the most important thing to learn about finishing, at the outset, is not about the wood, it’s about how the finish material behaves.

Use up that can of varnish on everything that you can get your hands on. When you become comfortable with it, then proceed to introducing other variables, one at a time if you can. Your confidence will grow steadily and your knowledge will increase exponentially with very little time spent wondering (what flake of shellac, what aperture on the gun, was that pre catalyzed or post catalyzed, what pressure, contaminant in the air line, too much thinner, water based or solvent, and on and on) what went wrong.

Cleaning for varnish brush:

rinse and work it with paint thinner (mineral spirits) twice.

rinse and work it with lacquer thinner.

rinse and work it with ammonia.

rinse and work it with detergent.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics