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I don't know about all these finishes

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Forum topic by rantingrich posted 12-27-2014 08:58 PM 1271 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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rantingrich

372 posts in 807 days


12-27-2014 08:58 PM

I have read sooo much about finishes my head is spinning.

I don’t like the high glossy shine of gloss poly. I just like a great finish. I have read about Toung oils and the like but so many have so many opinions.

I want a great finish on fine wood furniture and kitchen cabinets.

Any suggests?

-- Rich


13 replies so far

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

2410 posts in 1976 days


#1 posted 12-27-2014 09:16 PM

Rich:
For years, including the 12 years I refinished professionally, I used mostly semi-gloss polyurethane, sprayed on. It was durable, buffed up to a wonderful lustre, and with Johnson’s paste wax on top, made for a great household finish. We even did a few baby grand pianos in that finish when I refinished.

Then I discovered the power of lacquer and had a few mistakes, until I found Deft. It sprayed on well, had a reasonable cure time that allowed me to put on wet coats, shined up like glass, and I started to include that, although it is nowhere as durable. I added tints…

Now, building guitars, needing both shine and toughness, and not owning an oven that will let me do two part catalyst poly, I discovered Tru-Oil wipe on finish. It dries rather fast, (at least the first few coats), puts on a tough finish, and no spray gun needed. I can put on tinted dyes under it for bursts that I have to do, and it also takes well to most oil stains, once they are dry.

Truth be told, I have never done much with oils, like Tung, Danish and the others.

Different folks get used to a small package of finishes, and they usually run with them for years.
For me, sprayed on poly for toughness, sprayed on lacquer for shine and quickness, and Tru-Oil wipe on for high usage where a mirror finish is needed.

If you walk into any decent cabinet shop, you will find no more than one or two lines of finishes, and they are usually very, very good at those. I would choose something that you like, such as a semi-gloss poly, and start working with it, both brush and spray. Stick with name brands that are easily obtainable. For me, the boutique finishes that some guys swear by are great, but I have a hard time spending $50-75 a gallon for poly. Maybe if I was doing furniture that I intended to sell for thousands.

Buy some 0000 steel wool to buff it and feel free to experiment repolishing with Butchers, Johnson’s, and other carnuba waxes that will give it a water proof edge.

Just my humble opinion…

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

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Fred Hargis

3932 posts in 1955 days


#2 posted 12-27-2014 10:19 PM

What is labeled “tung oil” these days is usually anything but. Most of them are nothing but thinned varnish (wiping varnish) though there may be one out there that has BLO in it. I understand the part about having read so much, but if you want to cut through the bull in a well organized manner get a copy of Bob Flexner's book and read it. It’s very easy reading, well organized, and packed with really good information. An alternative would be the one by Jeff Jewitt the same info although it’s organized quite differently and I find it more useful as a reference when I need to look something up. Back to your question: the finishes labeled “tung oil” are very good for in certain uses. They aren’t all that protective or durable, but they are easy to use and very nice looking (IMHO). They would be terrible on kitchen cabinets. For something that’s in that environment, a good quality varnish (I prefer the non-urethane formulas, they look much nicer to my eyes) or one of the catalyzed finishes ( a pre cat lacquer) would survive much better. You specifically mentioned you don’t like the look of a gloss “poly” (I guess you mean oil based varnish), try a non poly varnish. The 2 I know of still being made are Pratt and Lambert 38 and Sherwin Williams Fast Dry Oil Varnish. They are both alkyd resin. The P&L uses soya oil as the drying oil, the SW uses linseed oil; so it has a much more amber cast than the P&L.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

2406 posts in 1771 days


#3 posted 12-27-2014 10:34 PM

I moved to spraying waterborne clears about 10 years ago and have been satisfied with the results. The first kitchen I did with waterborne 10 years ago is holding up just fine.

I like Targets, fuhr’s, General finishes and woodpride.

Easy to use, clean up and comes in a variety of sheens.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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pintodeluxe

4853 posts in 2275 days


#4 posted 12-27-2014 11:58 PM

I spray lacquer. Rudd brand lately, but have had good luck with ML Campbell Magnalac, Valspar lacquer, and Sherwin Williams lacquer too. I use an inexpensive gravity feed gun with pressure regulator.
One of the main benefits is you can build a nice satin finish in only two coats. By contrast, wiping on a thin finish may take 5-7 coats.

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

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Purrmaster

914 posts in 1554 days


#5 posted 12-28-2014 12:21 AM

The easiest finishes to get started with are the wipe on kind. Thinned varnishes, danish oil, etc.

If you have a spray gear your go to finish might be nitrocellulose lacquer. If you don’t you can still get brushing lacquer (which I use). Lacquer dries fast and polishes up nicely. It’s also pretty forgiving if you screw something up. A new coat of lacquer will partially dissolve the coat underneath which makes repairs comparatively easy.

I think shellac is an underrated finish. You can spray, brush, or French polish shellac. It’s worth trying it once to see if it grabs you.

I think gloss poly tends to look pretty icky. Satin poly looks less plasticy to me. Poly is good for scratch resistance and toughness.

If you want a finish that is darkened try Waterlox. It’s a phenolic varnish. The downside is that it’s dark and therefore will darken anything you put it on. If you’ve used a dark stain or want to enhance the darkness of a wood like walnut I think Waterlox works well. It doesn’t look as plasticy as poly.

Pure oil finishes (like boiled linseed oil or raw tung oil) can look nice but they provide little protection. If you have a piece that won’t get a lot of abuse you might want to try boiled linseed oil. It’s easy to apply and tends to pop the grain.

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rantingrich

372 posts in 807 days


#6 posted 12-28-2014 12:29 AM

AlaskaGuy…

I was getting ready to ask about water based finishes/ Polys.

More than 2o years ago I used a line of water based polys and sanding sealers that I liked very much but can’t recall the name. BUT as I recall you certainly did NOT want to use them on a floor or anything like that. And the shines up rather well with just some rubbing compound or wax.

I used for water based SATIN POLY I got from LOWES just to seal to top of two new work benches and sort of liked what out looked like after say 4 coats.

Damn I wish I could recall that water based ploys name.

By the way I don’t like STAINS. I like the natural wood color whatever it is

-- Rich

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AlaskaGuy

2406 posts in 1771 days


#7 posted 12-28-2014 12:55 AM

AlaskaGuy…

I was getting ready to ask about water based finishes/ Polys.

More than 2o years ago I used a line of water based polys and sanding sealers that I liked very much but can t recall the name. BUT as I recall you certainly did NOT want to use them on a floor or anything like that. And the shines up rather well with just some rubbing compound or wax.

I used for water based SATIN POLY I got from LOWES just to seal to top of two new work benches and sort of liked what out looked like after say 4 coats.

Damn I wish I could recall that water based ploys name.

By the way I don t like STAINS. I like the natural wood color whatever it is

- rantingrich

If you are a big box shopper it could have been this

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Varathane-1-gal-Clear-Semi-Gloss-Water-Based-Floor-Polyurethane-2-Pack-230131/202057140?ds_e_ad_type=pla&cm_mmc=Shopping|Base&gclid=CIGo4orD58ICFYVafgodvoYAVg&gclsrc=aw.ds

Never cared much for min wax products.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1061 posts in 1992 days


#8 posted 12-28-2014 02:05 AM

Waterborne technology has radically changed – for the better – over the last 20 years. Whatever it was that you like then would be completely outdated now.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7910 posts in 1842 days


#9 posted 12-28-2014 07:18 AM

Your question is vague but you really can’t separate the finish from the purpose. I’m assuming this is for hobbyist use. If you want ONE all purpose finish then a varnish or polyurethane is probably your best bet. Personally I don’t like working with varnishes and polyurethanes, they stink and take a long time to dry. My preference is to keep the finish as simple as possible for the intended purpose so I might use oil, oil/wax, shellac, or lacquer in that order from least durable to most durable. That said I have used shellac on table tops and floors. I can lay several coats of shellac in the time it takes for one coat of varnish to dry; and if the shellac gets messed up it only takes minutes to fix as opposed to hours for varnish/poly.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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Loren

8301 posts in 3109 days


#10 posted 12-28-2014 07:35 AM

Oil-modified waterborne ply is really great these days.
It goes on great with a rag or with a foam brush,
builds quick. I suggest an amber shellac undercoat if
a little grain pop is desired as poly doesn’t do that.

I try to use full gloss film finishes and the I rub them
out. Flatteners in semi-gloss and matte poly’s weaken
the finish. Oil is fine of course, but it can take a lot
of it to get “the wet look” of oil that doesn’t dry out
and get sucked into the wood via capillary action.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3932 posts in 1955 days


#11 posted 12-28-2014 12:30 PM



Waterborne technology has radically changed – for the better – over the last 20 years. Whatever it was that you like then would be completely outdated now.

- Mark Kornell

I agree with that, and was remiss in not mentioning waterborne finishes in my earlier reply. They have come a long way and really are quite good now. Some of them are now calling themselves a polyurethane (damn, I hate that word!) finish, but at their heart they are all a predominantly acrylic finish and the durability has really improved. There may still be a small problem with the strongest alkaline cleaners in a kitchen, but they are well worth consideration.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Matt54's profile

Matt54

1 post in 706 days


#12 posted 12-29-2014 03:59 AM

Rich,
Like yourself I was faced with the head spinning of all the different finishes. After experimenting with a few, I have found Minwax Water Based Poly to be the easiest to work with. I use a cheap hvlp gun at Harbor Freight. After getting faniliar with the adjustments, you can get a pretty high quality finish. It takes a little practice but very easy to do. With a few coats and 400-600 grit sanding between, you end up with a nice smooth finish. Here’s a pic of the last project. I used a glossbut they do offer a satin finish. It also has a nice sheen to it but since you don’t like the gloss at all you could dull it to your liking with steel wool. I’d use lacquer on kitchen cabinets just because of the drying quickness. I’ve never sprayed lacquer just because of the fumes.

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OSU55

1056 posts in 1451 days


#13 posted 12-29-2014 06:06 AM

Yea, there are a lot of finishes, especially when coloring – pigmented stains and dyes, solvent and waterborne – is included. How many woodworking tools, for making projects, are in your shop? How much time have you spent learning to use those tools and developing different skills? I consider the finish for a piece 50% of the project, and every bit as important as the wood type and the project design – the finish is an integral part of the design. Just as there are different joints, wood types, and other design elements depending on the project, so to there are many options for finishes.

For 25 years I used solvent pigment stains and poly. about 6 years ago I decided to understand the different finishes and how to use them. Yes, I went through loads of test boards and hours and hours of testing. I can still use poly (btw poly will do everything all the Danish, watco, tung, blo, and all the other home made brews will do, its all in the sheen and application method), but now I know how to use solvent lacquer, all types of waterborne coatings, shellac, dyes, tinting, filling finishes, glazing, etc. I can make a project look about any way I want, with whatever level of protection is needed. The interesting part is – it isn’t that difficult. A book each by Jeff Jewitt and Bob Flexner explained the chemistry aspects in simple terms, methods for different stains, dyes, tinting, topcoats, and from there it’s off to the “lab” to try some things out.

Target Coatings has about any type of waterborne topcoat there is, as well as stains, sanding sealers, even waterborne shellac – excellent customer service, too – you can get the owner on the phone if need be. If you think the box store waterbornes are good, just try some of Target’s stuff. I get shellac flakes in bulk and dissolve my own so I can always have fresh product. Pre-cat lacquer is the best all around solvent finish, but application was limited to nice days (didn’t want to blow up myself and the shop) so I switched to waterborne lacquer. Transtint dyes are amazing. There is a whole world of finishing out there. Don’t limit yourself to just one or two things. BTW, if you decide to try some new stuff, keep a good journal of all the details. Makes it easier to not repeat mistakes and remember what worked. I have the finish schedule for each piece I’ve finished for the past 6 years.

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