Reply by OSU55

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Posted on Oil or water base

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2738 posts in 3001 days

#1 posted 11-03-2018 02:23 PM

Since you plan to finish by hand (no spray), wb is out. Fred makes a good point about the interior – you could brush, even foam brush, wb inside and have little odor. GF HP poly or Target Coatings EM 9000 poly would be good choices. While wb can be brushed on the outside, a couple of issues with it – brush marks, and the lifeless look of wb. No chatoyance, and with that wood you will be very disappointed. The why to address it is undercoat with shellac, but shellac needs to be sprayed on large surfaces. Very short open time.

My choice would be oil based poly or the alkyd p&L or sherwin williams has an alkyd. I find the alkyds a bit softer than poly. The alkyds tend to have slightly less amber tone. For poly I would use minwax, and GF has arm r seal. MW has 2x the solids content so needs to be thinned 1:1. The alkyds will need to be thinned as well. Whichever, the 1st 2 coats should be applied like a danish oil – flood the surface, keep wet for ~10 min, wipe off. This fully seals the uneven absorption of the surfaces and is very easy to do. Then add coats by wipe on or brush.

I recommend you experiment with a little color on scrap. The liquid portion of stains is dye and can be mixed directly into the varnish. Just a little dark dye can really enhance the grain. Whatever you choose, test the entire finish schedule on scrap. Should be easy to dedicate many board pieces to testing. If big enough you can plane them off several times to remove the finish and test again.

My birch experience is limited to ply, but it is very blotch prone. Read about blotch control here. Include in your testing.

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