How do I finish dark walnut / birch....hope chest

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Forum topic by Hartworks posted 02-06-2014 06:07 PM 1493 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Hartworks's profile


53 posts in 1775 days

02-06-2014 06:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question walnut finishing

I am constructing a hope chest with the framework / lid made of dark walnut and the panel inserts (front side and back) made of birch. I have read about a million different ways to finish but would like to hear from someone who has successfully finished walnut. I want it to appear natural and expose the grains and figures, so I guess I am saying as clear as possible. But I don’t really like the contrast with the light sapwood. I tried some dark danish oil and that just looked too dark. I tried some BLO, which looked nice but the sapwood was still too light. I tossed two coats of shellac over the BLO and really did not like the appearance it gave the piece. (mind you these are test pieces)

What I would like is a nice even tone, as close to natural as possible. I have also read that walnut will fade over time and lose its dark characteristic.

I have not tested the birch yet but think I can just go with BLO, wash coat shellac and top coat with GF High Performance Satin.

Some direction would be greatly appreciated.

-- Gary, California

3 replies so far

View VCF's profile


66 posts in 1749 days

#1 posted 02-06-2014 07:55 PM

Here is a walnut I finished just last year. I used a few coats of tung oil and finished that off wipe on polly.

-- Vieth Custom Furniture,

View RogerM's profile


798 posts in 2577 days

#2 posted 02-07-2014 05:41 PM

Gary – You can check out some of my projects which I generally finish this way:

- Sand to 180 – 220 grit sandpaper
- rag on Minwax golden oak stain (Lowes or Home Depot carries this) and allow to dry overnight.
- rub down with a clean cloth to remove dust and rag on a coat of Seal Coat diluted with an equal part of alcohol.
- allow sealer coat to dry several hours and rub out with 00 steel wool.
- Remove dust and debris with air and/or a rag containing mineral spirits
- Apply at least three coats of polyurethane diluted with an equal part of mineral spirits. I usually apply this with a lint free cloth (old T shirt works fine) and use semi gloss Minwax Polyurethane allowing at least 2 hours between coats. The more coats you put on the thicker and glossier it gets.
- Rub out with 800-1000 grit sandpaper or 0000 steel wool and remove debris as before.
- apply a coat of Black Bison Wax with 0000 steel wool and buff with a cotton cloth.

I hope this helps. Contact me if you have questions.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View Hartworks's profile


53 posts in 1775 days

#3 posted 02-08-2014 02:09 AM

Thanks Roger and VCF…I do believe I will try both methods and see what looks like what Im going for…thanks for takin the time

-- Gary, California

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