FINISHING #3: Finishing with Wax & Oil Pt 2

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Blog entry by Tony posted 04-20-2008 09:52 PM 3605 reads 6 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Finishing with Wax & Oil Pt 1 Part 3 of FINISHING series Part 4: MAINTENANCE OF WORK PIECES. »

Application of Wax on top of another medium.

Before we get too much into this part, there are a few things we have to consider about the wood we are using for our project, especially if we want a high shine on the project.

Some woods, such as Oak, Mahogany and Walnut have what is called “open grain”, whilst others like Cherry, Maple and Birch have what is called “close grain”. The open grain woods, if not treated correctly will always give an interrupted surface, such as an orange or lemon is compared to an apple.
To overcome this problem, we need to “fill the grain” – this is easily achievable with grain filler (subject of another lecture) which are commercially available.

Does the wood we want finish have some nice grain or features we want to enhance, such as a burl. If it does then we would be better of using an oil to start the process of finishing. Oils tend to enhance the grains and patterns in wood more than any other finish available.

Does the wood need to be stained? Why do we stain wood – 2 main reasons firstly to alter the appearance of the wood, Alder or Aspen to look like Walnut or Mahogany. Secondly and probably more importantly to balance the colour of the same wood but from a different plank/board i.e adjacent glued up boards (subject of another lecture).

For this demonstration I am using a piece of White Oak (open Grain), which we want to be darker than the natural colour, we also want it to have a medium to high shine, with good protection against food, wine and some heat resistance.

Step 1.
Sand the piece to be protected starting at 80g, then 120g, 180, 240g , ensuring that you sand with the grain wherever possible.

Step 2.
Clean the piece of all dust, ensure that all traces of glue have been removed.

Step 3
Apply the stain and leave to dry. Note if using a NGR (Non Grain Raining) stain then Step 4 can be omitted.

Step 4
Sand the entire project again with 240g (or the highest grit you used in Step 1) in the direction of the grain. This is to remove any grain that might have been “raised” during the staining process (especially prevalent with water based stains)

Step 5.
Apply the grain filler (you should use a darker filler than the final colour you want to achieve, this will allow for the natural darkening of the project to blend with the filler in a short time.) in small circular motion, leave the filler to dry. Using a clean piece of sacking wipe the excess filler of the work piece ensure you wipe across the grain, NOT with the grain.

Step 6.
Re-sand the piece again – using 240g (or the highest grit you used in Step 1) in the direction of the grain.

Step 7 (Optional)
Re-apply a coat of stain (optional) as in step 3. This maybe may be necessary, if you have removed too much wood during the sanding process or if you want to make the project darker/fuller in colour.

Step 8.
We now apply our first protective coating – this could be oil, varnish, Oil/varnish mix, shellac or some other medium. This coating is going to give us the high degree of protection we need for everyday use.

I have used Osmo Polyx Hardwax oil, as it is one of the easiest to apply, gives a superb finish and very resistant to spills and scratching.
Apply a thin coat of the Osmo Polyx hardwax oil to the whole piece, then with a clean cloth remove any excess.(this should be done with 15 minutes of application), if necessary on larger pieces work in sections or zones. Leave to dry for 12 hours or overnight.

Tip/Hint The cloths, brushes, sponges etcetera used for the application of this oil can be used again, place the cloths, brushes, sponges etcetera in a plastic bag, remove most of the air, seal the bag and put it in the freezer. When you want to reuse them, just let them defrost and you are ready to go.

Step 9.
Re-sand the piece again – using 320g in the direction of the grain.

Step 10.
Apply a second coat of the Osmo Polyx Hardwax oil, in the same manner as Step 8. Leave to dry for a minimum of 12 hours.

Step 11.
Re-sand the piece again – using 600g in the direction of the grain. If you want a higher sheen, especially for table tops, then Re-sand the piece with 1000g, then 1500g. Remove any dust and allow to dry.

Step 12.
We are now ready to apply our 1st coat of wax. We are going to use Fiddes “Mellow wax, this wax is formulated for applying onto prefinished pieces such as our sample. Whilst we can use a coloured wax, there is no real advantage in this example as the wood is so dark, the wax would not have any appreciable effect. We could also use the Fiddes “Supreme wax” just as easily, it is just that I prefer the use of the Mellow wax for this application.

Apply a light coat of wax to the piece rubbing in small circular motion, then finish off by rubbing with the grain of the wood. Ensure to remove any surplus wax before it has dried.
Leave to dry for the required time

Step 13.
Buff the piece with a clean dry soft cloth, preferably in the direction of the grain.

Step 14.
Repeat the application wax in step 12.

Step 15.
Repeat step 14. When fully buffed the work is finished – the project can now be used. However for full protection, I would prefer to leave the piece for an additional 2 weeks in cool (not cold) dry conditions, just to let the Osmo Polyx Hardwax oil fully cure. (if using Oil/Varnish or Varnish, then I would leave it for 6 weeks) After this time a additional buffing, would not hurt, or even an additional light coat of wax.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

4 comments so far

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4506 days

#1 posted 04-21-2008 12:41 AM

Thanks very much for all the extra effort Tony.
This is definitely a keeper.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4358 days

#2 posted 04-21-2008 01:32 AM

I am printing these out. Thanks again.

-- Happy woodworking!

View DrTebi's profile


305 posts in 3751 days

#3 posted 07-28-2009 05:19 AM

I have a (“newbie”) question about treating open-grain wood. I understand the analogy you made (oranges and apples), but I wonder if one wanted to have this uneven look, would there be any other negative consequences by not using a grain filler for oak?

View Tony's profile


993 posts in 4514 days

#4 posted 07-28-2009 05:00 PM

Hi DrTebi

To answer you question briefly – NO, there are no major negative consequences – apart from that over time you may get a build up of wax and dirt in the grain, but that is purely cosmetic.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

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