Why so many home grown recipes?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by WOODIE1 posted 05-23-2012 09:58 PM 2267 views 1 time favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View WOODIE1's profile


117 posts in 2548 days

05-23-2012 09:58 PM

Ok I am new to wood work and finishing and find the finishing the hardest. I am from a automotive paint background so you would think that would be the easy part.

Why do so many requests here get answered with a 5 part recipe instead of say a single base and single protection coat? Some of the products are water, oil, etc based and are all mixed and applied in so many varying ways it is crazy.

How is it that in woodworking there aren’t products that give professional furniture quality without all the secret mixing and recipes?

I am doing a piece of pine and after shellac, wipe on stain, wipe gel, etc, etc There just has to be an easier way???

29 replies so far

View DS's profile


3056 posts in 2689 days

#1 posted 05-23-2012 10:06 PM

Welcome to woodworking.
Some of the more attractive finishes have more than 14 different coats and processes.

Unless you are doing a natural finish (Sealer plus Top coat), or a basic finish (stain, seal, topcoat), it only gets more complicateder and complicateder. (My best Alice in Wonderland impression)

There’s distressing, glazing, sand throughs, crackling, gilding and on and on and on.

I come from an Aerospace background—Believe me when I say it isn’t rocket science.
Rocket science is FAR EASIER!

And, oh yeh… best of luck to you. :-D

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4162 days

#2 posted 05-23-2012 10:36 PM

thats easy. If you want a professional industrial finish, alls you have to do is buy a professional automotive positive pressure spray booth, add air make up, a combustion suppression system, buy the filters, then add to that a compressor that can supply of air of at least 21 cfm, add to that a dehumidification system, then get a HVLP air assisted fluid delivery system, then the air hoses, then spray guns, perhaps a pressure pot or 2, a cup gun, then spend another small fortune on thinners, lacquers, catalysts, cleaners………Then jump all the hurdles of toxic waste, permits,

thus why people find the best properties of various finishes, mix them, apply and are as happy as a lark

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View jdmaher's profile


445 posts in 2848 days

#3 posted 05-23-2012 10:43 PM

Well, if you want a painted look, prime and topcoat. You’re done.

But, isn’t it a bit more complicated, even in automotie paints? Electrostaic applications in high-tech spray booths? Sometimes “baked” on? Primer, color, clear?

For utility pieces, I seal (usually shellac), sand lightly, polyurethane, sand lightly, poly again. That’s without spraying.

Wood generally ain’t painted. The idea, for me, is to make the grain look as good as possible, then add protection, then add polish. Sometimes it gets complicated to get an open-grained wood figure to “pop”, then try not to diminsih that effect with protection coats, then add lustre. It IS more complicated than “cover” with paint.

Or, you could just grab a couple cans of Rustoleum. Of course, then it would LOOK like Rustoleum.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2630 days

#4 posted 05-23-2012 11:51 PM

There’s an easy answer. It’s equivalent to Base coat – Clear coat, with an optional base coat of any kind of stain or pigmented finish followed by a clear coat of solvent lacquer. That’s all that’s needed and applicable to any situation.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2574 days

#5 posted 05-23-2012 11:55 PM

It seems everyone has thier own way of finishing, I am guilty of trying different methods, and mixing my own concotions. Pretty much I have 3 go to finishes, Water based poly, when working with my daughter, Spar urethane when I need it to shine, and Laquer when I need it to shine and I am too impatient to wait to recoat, or I waited too long and I need to get the project done. afterwards, usually just a good butchers wax or beeswax. I recently started with a wipe on poly, and now that I see the results, I started mixing my own. Thats really a cost saver, its easier to mix, Mineral spirits and poly than it is to pay double for it premixed.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4162 days

#6 posted 05-24-2012 01:47 AM

what a slippery slope we enter, when its liquid

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View waho6o9's profile


8565 posts in 2845 days

#7 posted 05-24-2012 01:55 AM

Welcome to LumberJocks and wood working Woodie1.

No, there is no easy way. Will shellac prevent blotching of the pine? Good luck on your finish. Maybe practice
on scrap first.

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2744 days

#8 posted 05-24-2012 02:35 AM

Many of the catalyzed polyurethane finishes are a one step deal, if you want a mirror image finish maybe two steps, spray, sand and spray. The drawbacks are that you have to use the entire amount when you mix it. At the moment I am about to finish aprox 1700 of wood flooring, the finish will be one of these I mention, specially formulated for flooring.

There is a difference between hobby and professional work, even so, many professionals who are doing one of a kind or custom piece (and getting paid accordingly) will go to great pains on the finish. The most beautiful piece of furniture will look like crap if it is not well finished. As you are finding out this is the least enjoyable part of a project yet one of the most (if not the most ) important if you want to have a nice piece.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4162 days

#9 posted 05-24-2012 02:41 AM

throw the dice and “hope”

for most I suspect it is what they do.

for others

they watch the rest throw the dice

and learn

: ))

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View bondogaposis's profile


5215 posts in 2620 days

#10 posted 05-24-2012 02:59 AM

The number one reason why finishing wood is so complex is because wood is a complex medium. It is not a stable industrial product. It breathes, it moves with every change in humidity, finishes need to be flexible and given the wide variety of uses to which wood objects must endure, very durable or at least renewable.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2533 days

#11 posted 05-24-2012 05:46 AM

Well, it’s actually pretty easy to see why there are so many finish techniques and processes if you think about it.

When you paint a car, it is usually either aluminum or steel. They take paint roughly the same. Plastic takes it almost the same, but sometimes needs a different primer and a few additives to increase the flexibility. Even with paint though, you’re using thinking it’s just one finish type normally nowadays (maybe all you do is base+clear)(or maybe you just call “painting” one finish type) . Really though, you need to add to that lacquers, metallics, pearls, candies, ChromaFlair variations, matte paint, etc.. Pinstriping? Two-tones? How about wet sanding? This is just painting a surface right?

Now, imagine that you have to deal with an almost endless array of materials to apply a finish to and their different properties (oils/stability/densities/etc.) react different ways to those finishes while trying to balance things like gloss/satin/flat/deep/plastic/polished/natural/stains/variations/etc. and trying to keep things in mind like durability/environment/usage.

You can see why this quickly starts getting out of hand because you’re essentially treating each variable as a multiplier for the number of combinations for which it can be applied. Not to mention that certain finishes react to each other and sometimes differently depending on the order you apply them in.

Then, finally, everyone has their favorite finish types. Some guys have had finishes handed down to them and some have stumbled or developed their own. They work and since they do work, they are often shared and repeated.

If you want the easy way, grab a can of polyurethane and just coat everything in it. If that’s the look you’re going for, it’s easy and quick. Same for Danish oil. It’s when you’re trying to achieve a certain look that you’ll start finding the devil is in the details… and there are a lot of details.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Bluepine38's profile


3380 posts in 3354 days

#12 posted 05-24-2012 02:00 PM

I think one way to say it is that we are individuals and like to try things to find out if they work. There are
different woods and finishes and everyone seems to have a favorite. Trying to find a simple solution is
about as easy as getting a group of hunters and shooters to agree on one special caliber and gun that is
the best. It ain’t gonna happen, but we have fun with our own version and wish you the best of luck with
your version.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5167 posts in 4229 days

#13 posted 05-24-2012 02:17 PM

Bondo pretty well sums up the “broad brush” (Ha-Ha-Ha) view.
Succinct and well stated my man.


View AJLastra's profile


87 posts in 2497 days

#14 posted 05-24-2012 03:45 PM


Welcome to the craft. So many of us simply dont like the finishing process. I’m odd that way. Its one of my favorite things to do. I plan a piece around the finish and for that reason, this is why, for me, finishing can take multiple steps. the first thing I ask myself is, what will this piece be subjected to? what kind of use or abuse? I make reproduction furniture, so I anticipate that people are going to use the piece and not just look at it. As was mentioned, wood moves. sealed or not, wood is going to be effected by heat, cold, and humidity. If you make a piece and want to protect it from wear, you consider certain types of finishes over others. Wood doesnt HAVE to be colored through stain or glaze. you do it because you like the look that a color gives the piece. There are masters out there, the best of the best, at the pinnacle of the trade, like Thos Moser who use only cherry and use no other finish other than hand applied oil/wax mixtures. Master woodworker Frank Klauz rarely uses anything but Waterlox varnish. Sam Maloof made his own finish which is marketed through Rockler but he applied it with his bare hands. Norm Abram of New Yankee Workshop fame used polyurethane on eveything. And there ARE some pieces that MUST be painted if what you are trying to achieve is an accurate historical reproduction because finishers used milk paint a lot.

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2962 days

#15 posted 05-24-2012 04:01 PM

I’m a minimalist, four methods depending upon the project:
1) blo. Done
2) tinted danish oil, wetsand, dry, wax or poly
3) turpentine + beeswax, dry, wax
4) shellac, buff, wax

I’m with you. I’ve got about 10 book from glazing to french polishing. I just can’t get into it.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

showing 1 through 15 of 29 replies

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