Finishing Wisdom #3: Finishing Wisdom #3 - Trial and Error

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by USCJeff posted 12-21-2007 09:28 AM 1893 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Long awaited update Part 3 of Finishing Wisdom series no next part

In my ongoing pursuit of trying to learn how to finish in a manner that doesn’t remind me of my 2 year old’s coloring, I’ve done some more experimenting. I bought a few dozen board feet of white oak for no particular project. I decided to play around and use several finishing methods to see the outcome. I cut some corners here and there as didn’t sand the way I would if it was a real project, but the results were still a decent representation of the methods.

Finishes Used:

Prep Note: Sanded to 150 and applied wood conditioner for all

~Minwax OB Ebony (as well as – 2:1 Mineral Spirits to Stain Washcoat)
~Minwax OB Sierra (as well as – 2:1 Mineral Spirits to Stain Washcoat)
~General Finish H2O Black Cherry
~Minwax Gel Walnut
~Antique Danish Oil (Watco I think)
~Watco Dark Walnut Danish Oil


Both Oil Based Minwax Stains were a little blotchy and seemed to have a dull sheen to them when used in full strength. When I thinned them for a washcoat trial, I really liked the way they looked. It eliminated the blotches and showed off the grain. This was a confirmation on the many tips I’ve read that state multiple thin coats works better than a few thick ones. However, the results were not as nice as the H2O stain discussed below.

I loved the simplicity and result of the H2O General Stain. The black cherry resembled the Minwax Sierra color. The finish was even and didn’t create unwanted contrasts between the grain and wood or the sap and heartwood. Very little odor, amazing recoat time, and not drastically more expensive than the oil based equivalent. It worked well enough that I will definitely give it more trials on other species. Possibly a go-to finish.

The Gel Stain was nice. I didn’t care for the Walnut on White Oak, but it was very even and blended well with the wood. I applied it with the board in a vertical position to test the “no drip/run” claims. Worked as claimed. Still not sold, but I am told it works well on some blotch prone species such as pine. (Note – I applied it to construction grade pine glued up panel and still wasn’t thrilled)

The BLO, did what BLO always does. Mostly clear, and amplifies the natural wood properties. Much faster cure time than tung oils I’ve used in the past.

Both Danish Oils worked well. The Walnut colored oil gradually added color with each coat. This allows for better control of the end result. The clear oil slightly darkened the wood which highlights both the wood and any imperfections.

General H2O Bl Cherry

Minwax Ebony OB Wash Coat

Comparing Walnut Gel to Real Thing

Sierra Wash

-- Jeff, South Carolina

3 comments so far

View Cephas's profile


9 posts in 4350 days

#1 posted 12-23-2007 08:57 AM

Jeff, thanks for the lesson. My parents were in the antique business from 1960-1980 and I stripped & refinished more than my share of chairs, coal hods, etc., That is the basis of my limited wood knowledge. I cant tell you how many projects people shook their heads at until my father applied a few coats of BLO. Sometimes he would mix teaspoons of stain with it on the 2nd/3rd coats. i have no idea where he came up with these concoctions. I guess are true woodworkers love experimenting.

-- "Do what you can, where you're at, with what you've got." Theodore Roosevelt

View kineo's profile


64 posts in 4348 days

#2 posted 12-24-2007 05:29 AM

jeff…just joined lumberjocks today and was reading your trial and errors of finishing…I’m an ex professional finisher recently turned woodworker and I might suggest you look at mohawk finishing products….their finishing products, espcially stains are excellent…hope this helps….kineo

-- marshall, murphy, north carolina

View USCJeff's profile


1065 posts in 4609 days

#3 posted 12-25-2007 08:06 AM

Thanks Kineo, Can’t say I’ve heard of Mohank finishes. I think I’ve heard of them as a carpet brand, perhaps??? Just did a google search for “Mohawk Stain” and found plenty of sources. If price is an indicator, it is in line with higher quality products. I’ll have to add it to my list of things to try. I’ve been very happy with General products thus far and their local availability is a plus. Any thoughts on how they compare? Used both?

-- Jeff, South Carolina

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

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