LumberJocks

All Replies on What is a good finish to put on oak kitchen cabinets?

  • Advertise with us
View Brawler's profile

What is a good finish to put on oak kitchen cabinets?

by Brawler
posted 01-28-2020 04:59 PM


23 replies so far

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

7219 posts in 2945 days


#1 posted 01-28-2020 06:26 PM

In a conversation I had with Charles Neil, he recommended a couple of coats of shellac before I sprayed on a waterbased poly. We’ve had this finish on the kitchen cabinets I built and have loved it.

View Brawler's profile

Brawler

134 posts in 510 days


#2 posted 01-28-2020 06:58 PM

Thanks Bob, is there any special kind of poly or brand, and can I get that spray on poly in an aerosol can? Is there anything special about cleaning and maintenance, or just a wipe with a damp rag?

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI

View ibewjon's profile (online now)

ibewjon

1383 posts in 3473 days


#3 posted 01-28-2020 09:06 PM

I use oil base poly for floors from varathane. Tough as nails. It may not give you the color you need, it does have a golden shade to it. It has been on our floors for 25 years with hardly a scratch.

View MPython's profile

MPython

229 posts in 492 days


#4 posted 01-28-2020 09:08 PM

You can wipe on poly rather than spraying. I finished my oak shop cabinets with wipe-on poly 7 or 8 years ago and they still look as good as new. Minwax has a wipe on poly that works well. It comes in both gloss and satin. “Satin” poly contains tiny silicon discs that flatten the sheen to give you a softer finish appearance. The flatteners obscure the wood grain a little with each coat. If you use satin for 3 or 4 coats, the effect is noticeable – the grain lines look a little “muddy,” but the effect is small for a single coat. To preserve the grain appearance, start with several coats of clear gloss finish and flatten the sheen with a final coat of satin.

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

2701 posts in 2174 days


#5 posted 01-29-2020 01:31 AM

+1 Couple coats of blonde or amber shellac made from flakes so you control the color, and then 2 coats WB poly.
No offense odor.

Varathane WB Poly adds zero color (hence the shellac), and can be brushed on. Light glycol/alcohol odor. It has been very durable for me on several drawer boxes.

if was going to spray, would use commercial WB catalyzed lacquer from Gemini or Target. Can not recommend General Finishes WB, except maybe the commercial Enduro products. But even commercial Enduro WB poly is not as good as above options.
YMMV

Best Luck!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View hkmiller's profile

hkmiller

215 posts in 762 days


#6 posted 01-29-2020 02:27 AM

Have used the Gemini pre cat lacquer in the past that make a good product never the waterborne though

-- always something

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

2701 posts in 2174 days


#7 posted 01-29-2020 03:18 AM



Have used the Gemini pre cat lacquer in the past that make a good product never the waterborne though
- hkmiller

Two of my local independent finishing suppliers sell Gemini. They claim the Gemini is the highest volume top coat they sell to professional shops? Only used it a couple times. WB not as durable as solvent systems, but it’s least objectionable WB I can get locally.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View SMP's profile

SMP

1889 posts in 585 days


#8 posted 01-29-2020 03:29 AM


Thanks Bob, is there any special kind of poly or brand, and can I get that spray on poly in an aerosol can? Is there anything special about cleaning and maintenance, or just a wipe with a damp rag?

- Brawler

Aerosol poly will cost a fortune to do a whole kitchen. Could probably buy an HVLP setup for cheaper. Minwax wipe on works well for a BORG purchased. I get slightly better results from General Finishes. Did you plan on using grain filler? Or are the current cabinets open grain?

Also as to shellac i would use dewaxed shallac flakes or if BORG just get the sealcoat

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

7219 posts in 2945 days


#9 posted 01-29-2020 09:14 AM

Dan, I bought the Earlex system a couple of years ago from Highland wood working when they had it on sale. Just about everything I’ve done since I retired was to develop my skills to tackle this kitchen cabinet project and acquire enough of the needed tools to get the job done. Time and patience have paid off.

View Brawler's profile

Brawler

134 posts in 510 days


#10 posted 01-29-2020 11:29 AM


Thanks Bob, is there any special kind of poly or brand, and can I get that spray on poly in an aerosol can? Is there anything special about cleaning and maintenance, or just a wipe with a damp rag?

- Brawler

Aerosol poly will cost a fortune to do a whole kitchen. Could probably buy an HVLP setup for cheaper. Minwax wipe on works well for a BORG purchased. I get slightly better results from General Finishes. Did you plan on using grain filler? Or are the current cabinets open grain?

Also as to shellac i would use dewaxed shallac flakes or if BORG just get the sealcoat

- SMP


No, I’m not doing the whole kitchen, just the sink cabinet. I’m leaning towards a brush on poly vs aerosol because I really don’t have anywhere to spray. I know I could do the temp paint booth thing with plastic, but for one cabinet seems like a PITA.

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI

View Brawler's profile

Brawler

134 posts in 510 days


#11 posted 01-29-2020 11:35 AM



You can wipe on poly rather than spraying. I finished my oak shop cabinets with wipe-on poly 7 or 8 years ago and they still look as good as new. Minwax has a wipe on poly that works well. It comes in both gloss and satin. “Satin” poly contains tiny silicon discs that flatten the sheen to give you a softer finish appearance. The flatteners obscure the wood grain a little with each coat. If you use satin for 3 or 4 coats, the effect is noticeable – the grain lines look a little “muddy,” but the effect is small for a single coat. To preserve the grain appearance, start with several coats of clear gloss finish and flatten the sheen with a final coat of satin.

- MPython


Thanks a lot for the information on the satin vs gloss poly. Those details I find valuable, thanks for sharing.

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI

View Brawler's profile

Brawler

134 posts in 510 days


#12 posted 01-29-2020 11:54 AM

SMP asked if the cabinets have “grain filler”, how would I know? I don’t think they do, however I’m not sure.

I think in summary I’m going to use blond dewaxed shellac (2-3 coats), WB poly(3-4 coats), with last coat in satin. Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and experience with me. If there is any more advise I will continue to monitor this thread.

Best Regards

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI

View CWWoodworking's profile

CWWoodworking

663 posts in 859 days


#13 posted 01-29-2020 01:37 PM



SMP asked if the cabinets have “grain filler”, how would I know? I don t think they do, however I m not sure. I think in summary I m going to use blond dewaxed shellac (2-3 coats), WB poly(3-4 coats), with last coat in satin. Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and experience with me. If there is any more advise I will continue to monitor this thread.

Best Regards

- Brawler

My experience with WB is somewhat limited, but after 7 coats isn’t it gonna look like it was dipped in plastic?

View BuckeyeDennis's profile

BuckeyeDennis

82 posts in 378 days


#14 posted 01-29-2020 01:51 PM

It’s always a good idea to test your finish on a piece of scrap wood, before applying it to your actual project. In this case, since you’re not planning to refinish the other cabinets, I’d say that it’s downright critical. You’ll be trying to match both the color and the sheen of the other cabinets, which probably won’t be easy. Good luck!

-- Dennis 'We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.' Charles Swindoll

View Robert's profile

Robert

3661 posts in 2161 days


#15 posted 01-29-2020 02:15 PM

If you can see or feel grain texture it is not filled. Most likely it is not that oak is usually filled if its a table top.

A water based urethane or polyacrylic will work well. Brush coats/lightly sand with 320 b/t coats.

I do not see a need/advantage of the shellac.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View ibewjon's profile (online now)

ibewjon

1383 posts in 3473 days


#16 posted 01-29-2020 02:53 PM

Shellac will give some color, like oil base poly. WB poly is like dipping in clear plastic.

View Axis39's profile

Axis39

170 posts in 277 days


#17 posted 01-29-2020 03:06 PM

Since you stripped your face frame, there is probably no grain filler left. If you’re other cabinets are smooth, with no grain holes visible (oak is very porous), then it has grain filler.

The nice thing about using shellac is that if there is any finish left in the pores of the oak, shellac will stick to it and allow any finish to sit cleanly on top. I use it all the time between different finishes to insure that they adhere properly. It can also be used to fill grain… But, for oak, I would probably use something else first. Sanding shellac can get tiresome and burn through a lot of sandpaper (it clogs up paper quickly). I will sand the first couple of coats of shellac into a wood, which creates a slurry to fill grain nicely. I use a fine grit, like 400 or higher, wet/dry paper.

If using a polyurethane directly on top of the oak, it can actually be used as a grain filler… It usually builds pretty easily and quickly, especially waterborne/water based. I used this method with a pair of chairs I am currently refinishing. WB poly, mixed with latex paint and sprayed with an Earlex HVLP system has worked quite well. I put three heavy coats on, let it dry overnight, sanded smooth, then recoated. It looked really good last night!

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

View Brawler's profile

Brawler

134 posts in 510 days


#18 posted 01-29-2020 03:36 PM



It s always a good idea to test your finish on a piece of scrap wood, before applying it to your actual project. In this case, since you re not planning to refinish the other cabinets, I d say that it s downright critical. You ll be trying to match both the color and the sheen of the other cabinets, which probably won t be easy. Good luck!

- BuckeyeDennis


Yeah I am aware that matching is critical, I am going to use the backside of the two decorative fake drawers above the doors to test both stain and finish. Once I got that down I can then move on the project.

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI

View Brawler's profile

Brawler

134 posts in 510 days


#19 posted 01-29-2020 03:47 PM


SMP asked if the cabinets have “grain filler”, how would I know? I don t think they do, however I m not sure.

I think in summary I m going to use blond dewaxed shellac (2-3 coats), WB poly(3-4 coats), with last coat in satin. Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and experience with me. If there is any more advise I will continue to monitor this thread.

Best Regards

- Brawler

My experience with WB is somewhat limited, but after 7 coats isn’t it gonna look like it was dipped in plastic?

- CWWoodworking


LOL, I will stop when it looks like the other finished cabinets. My efforts will be concentrated on the face frame and doors. Inside the cabinet 1 coat of shellac and two coats poly, outside cabinet stain and 1 or 2 coats poly. outside sides of the cabinet will not be seen.

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI

View CWWoodworking's profile

CWWoodworking

663 posts in 859 days


#20 posted 01-29-2020 04:02 PM

IMO you can stop at 1 coat of shellac. Wood should be sealed after that and it is not providing additional moisture resistant. I don’t think you need more that 3 coats of top coat. Most cabinets do not have a filled heavy looking finish.

View Brawler's profile

Brawler

134 posts in 510 days


#21 posted 01-29-2020 04:49 PM



IMO you can stop at 1 coat of shellac. Wood should be sealed after that and it is not providing additional moisture resistant. I don’t think you need more that 3 coats of top coat. Most cabinets do not have a filled heavy looking finish.

- CWWoodworking


The shellac coats have a lot to do with color, I have to match existing cabinets. So color will dictate how much shellac I use. The original finish (the other cabinets) have a yellowish hue to the finish, that is what I am going to try and match. Like the Captain said earlier I am going to get the shellac flakes for more control over the color.

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

2701 posts in 2174 days


#22 posted 01-29-2020 05:10 PM

Daniel -
When Commercial oak cabinet makers use newer water clear WB top coats, they typically add toner (dye) to the seal coat(s) or even the 1st top coat.

If you can not get color you want with a mix of blonde/amber home brew shellac, don’t be afraid to try a few drops of honey amber Transtint dye in blonde shellac.
IMHO – don’t want to use thick heavy finish, so using 1 (2 max) coats of tinted shellac would be better than 3-4 coats to get matching color.

Another tip:
Old style solvent based lacquer/varnish finishes in cabinetry turned more amber with age. Your shellac will also darken slightly as it ages, but at a faster rate than an already old varnish. Suggest you error to the light side of color match for new finish, not darker color; if you have close color match decision to make.

Cheers!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Brawler's profile

Brawler

134 posts in 510 days


#23 posted 02-12-2020 05:06 PM

“THANK YOU”!!! everyone for sharing your advise and experience. And a special thanks to Burly Bob, and captain Klutz for the advise on the shellac.

I finished my cabinet and it came out much better than I even hoped for. It took me about 4 or 5 hours of experimenting, but I finally got the right formula of stains along with using blond shellac. I got the color matched almost perfect. The wife can’t tell, so that is all that really counts. Again thank you all for helping me make my project a success.

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI

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

HomeRefurbers.com