LumberJocks

All Replies on How should I finish walnut furniture without oil based products?

  • Advertise with us
View StoopidMonkey81's profile

How should I finish walnut furniture without oil based products?

by StoopidMonkey81
posted 08-30-2016 08:45 PM


48 replies so far

View JADobson's profile

JADobson

1445 posts in 2615 days


#1 posted 08-30-2016 09:25 PM

I’d use shellac. Its simple and it meets all of your requirements. If the finish starts to wear from contact with “liquids” just reapply.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

View CharlesNeil's profile

CharlesNeil

2496 posts in 4375 days


#2 posted 08-30-2016 09:28 PM

I agree with Ja, on the shellac, you need a oil or solvent to “warm” the walnut , but from there you can use a water base from there, a straight water base wil leave walnut “bland” .

View gargey's profile

gargey

1013 posts in 1280 days


#3 posted 08-30-2016 09:35 PM

use oil based products. done.

View StoopidMonkey81's profile

StoopidMonkey81

5 posts in 1140 days


#4 posted 08-30-2016 10:14 PM

So, why just shellac instead of shellac topped with water based poly, or just said poly? What differences will I notice in the application or end result? Also, should I consider using a stain or dye?

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

17960 posts in 3511 days


#5 posted 08-30-2016 10:20 PM

Ill third the shellac recomendation. Id go with ruby button lac. Itll give you a bit of color and a little more protection being a waxed shellac. Bit of a learning curve to applying shellac however.

Also agree with charles on an oil if you want to blend yellowish sapwood and the darker heartwood. I like medium walnut danish oil. Top coated with gf high performance youll have a nice easy finish schedule with easily workable finishes.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

17960 posts in 3511 days


#6 posted 08-30-2016 10:29 PM

Poly over shellac would work. It may be a little redundant though. Shellac may “pop” the finish a little more but im not sure its a ton different than straight poly.

You can certainly use water based dye if you want to change the color.

Play around on some samples and see what ya like. You got time so see what works for ya.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View gargey's profile

gargey

1013 posts in 1280 days


#7 posted 08-30-2016 10:31 PM

Use oil based poly. Don’t not use oil based poly. The results you’re looking for will come with oil based poly. Use oil based poly.

View nightguy's profile

nightguy

213 posts in 1167 days


#8 posted 08-30-2016 10:32 PM



I agree with Ja, on the shellac, you need a oil or solvent to “warm” the walnut , but from there you can use a water base from there, a straight water base wil leave walnut “bland” .

- CharlesNeil

If you use an Amber or darker Shellac for at least the first coat that will do your warming.
http://www.shellacshack.com/colors.html

View nightguy's profile

nightguy

213 posts in 1167 days


#9 posted 08-30-2016 10:38 PM

chrisstef, >“Ill third the shellac recomendation. Id go with ruby button lac. Itll give you a bit of color and a little more protection being a waxed shellac. Bit of a learning curve to applying shellac however.”

Wrong, Waxed Shellac is not as durable as dewaxed, it is softer and if you top coat it with another type of finish will not adhere as well.

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3386 posts in 2302 days


#10 posted 08-30-2016 11:54 PM

I love how garnet shellac looks on walnut. I top with GF high performance, water based poly, but any clear finish would work.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Neil's profile

Neil

25 posts in 1154 days


#11 posted 08-31-2016 12:07 AM

I’ve used dye stain and water based lacquer in the past with good results, the advantage is you can start with a dark stain and dilute until you find the color your after, the lacquer wont change it and leaves a super smooth finish.

With that said, like others say, Oil based poly will give you all the results your looking for straight outta the can.

View Snipes's profile

Snipes

432 posts in 2749 days


#12 posted 08-31-2016 12:23 AM

well there, you have the answer it’s unanimous!

-- if it is to be it is up to me

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 1207 days


#13 posted 08-31-2016 12:59 AM

Shellac (not dewaxed ) sealer, durability is not an issue, then polly. been using it for over 20 years never had a finish fail with it. As long as you only use the shellac as a sealer and don’t build it up you can put pollycrylic over it no issues. I know a cabinet guy that switched to water based finishes for health reasons years ago he does it all the time.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View nightguy's profile

nightguy

213 posts in 1167 days


#14 posted 08-31-2016 01:40 AM



Shellac (not dewaxed ) sealer, durability is not an issue, then polly. been using it for over 20 years never had a finish fail with it. As long as you only use the shellac as a sealer and don t build it up you can put pollycrylic over it no issues. I know a cabinet guy that switched to water based finishes for health reasons years ago he does it all the time.

- jwmalone

I dont know where you all get this waxed Shellac knowledge from? Zinsser Seal Coat is a 2lb cut for sealing and is dewaxed, look at the lower part of the can Dewaxed!!
http://www.rustoleum.com/product-catalog/consumer-brands/zinsser/interior-wood-finishes/sealcoat-universal-sanding-sealer/

Then there is this video from one of the leading finishers that uses Shellac, watch and listen!!
http://www.finewoodworking.com/how-to/video/can-the-can.aspx?&lookup=auto&V18=&V19=&V20=&V21=&V22=&V23=&V24=&V25=&V26=&V53=&V54=&Taun_Per_Flag=true&utm_source=eletter&utm_medium=eletter&utm_content=fw_eletter&utm_campaign=fine-woodworking-eletter

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 1207 days


#15 posted 08-31-2016 02:48 AM

Nightguy where in that post did I say any thing about Zinsser seal coat, I said shellac as a sealer. If you do not agree with some ones post just post you’re opinion and be done with it. Maybe even say, I do not agree with some of the previous post. No one else on this site post with such child like bs as you. . I assume you enjoy it so ill never respond to your post again. And like I said been doing it for 20 years and learned from some of the best in the business, that’s were I get my knowledge. That and books. Now go google yourself a personality and have a wonderful life.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View nightguy's profile

nightguy

213 posts in 1167 days


#16 posted 08-31-2016 03:03 AM

jwmalone, I dont want to get into a p fight with you, but your original post said to use waxed Shellac NOT DEWAXED, the point I was making is that is to the contrary to all I have read and seen on videos from Shellac experts and Guitar Makers that use Shellac exclusively. They never use wax Shellac.
Maybe I miss interrupted your statement, if so I apologize.

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 1207 days


#17 posted 08-31-2016 03:34 AM

No problem, the great thing about this site is the variety of opinions and the vast knowledge base made available to anyone who ask a question. As far as shellac goes, the debate on waxed or dewaxed to me seems pointless. I think each would be preferable in different situations. If I wanted it crystal clear for my guitar dewaxed, to warm wood and get that nice color plain shellac amber is my favorite (on the right wood). As far as not bonding well people have been using shellac for a finish since 1590. Its quality’s as a sealer can not be disputed. When used as a sealer there is no real build up so oil based clear coats go and bond well, that’s been going on for a 100 years at least. My problem is the marketing, all the manufactures have got some big shot giving all this info on this product or that to beginner’s and diy guys. And some of it sounds good but if you research the basics of what these products are mostly its a different twist on something old to sell some product. I say if it aint broke don’t fix it. I believe what worked well 50 75 years ago still works well. I’m not switching up because the latest marketing guru wants a new sports car. Do I try new stuff ofcourse. Me I prefer the methods ive seen work over my life time, but that’s just my two cents.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12903 posts in 2884 days


#18 posted 08-31-2016 03:53 AM

Umpth’ing the recommendation for shellac. Don’t worry about the sheen (glossy, matte, etc.) but you’ll dull it down when done. I like to put it on in thin coats, lightly sand after the first coat with 320, or 220. No more sanding is needed until the last coat when you want to use a very fine sandpaper or finishing pad and buff it with wax to your desired shine level.

You could also use waterbase poly but don’t combine the two finishes, that’s just overcomplicating things.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View nightguy's profile

nightguy

213 posts in 1167 days


#19 posted 08-31-2016 04:16 AM



No problem, the great thing about this site is the variety of opinions and the vast knowledge base made available to anyone who ask a question. As far as shellac goes, the debate on waxed or dewaxed to me seems pointless. I think each would be preferable in different situations. If I wanted it crystal clear for my guitar dewaxed, to warm wood and get that nice color plain shellac amber is my favorite (on the right wood). As far as not bonding well people have been using shellac for a finish since 1590. Its quality s as a sealer can not be disputed. When used as a sealer there is no real build up so oil based clear coats go and bond well, that s been going on for a 100 years at least. My problem is the marketing, all the manufactures have got some big shot giving all this info on this product or that to beginner s and diy guys. And some of it sounds good but if you research the basics of what these products are mostly its a different twist on something old to sell some product. I say if it aint broke don t fix it. I believe what worked well 50 75 years ago still works well. I m not switching up because the latest marketing guru wants a new sports car. Do I try new stuff ofcourse. Me I prefer the methods ive seen work over my life time, but that s just my two cents.

- jwmalone

I agree, they come with a spin on something, as Bob Flexner said in one of his Finishing book except for Shellac, BLO and Lacquer, they dont say what is in it.
As far as what works, I too stay with what works for me and I am used to using, I know its characteristics and properties.

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3320 posts in 3281 days


#20 posted 08-31-2016 11:49 AM

Shellac is dissolved in alcohol, not good near a gas water heater. A very nice finish without a lot of fumes (I do my work is a townhouse basement) is the Tung Oil finish. This is not straight Tung Oil but a mix of Tung Oil and poly that comes in a can. Apply it with a rag (I wear nitrile gloves with all finishes). Use several coats until you get the desired finish. Let dry between coats. Makes a very nice warm finish that brings out the color of the wood. I will sometimes thin it to make a wash coat or primer before using poly. The fumes are not bad and the thinner is mineral spirits which does not get explosive.

When you have completed applying the finish to the wood, take the rags (or paper towels) outside and drape them over something to let them dry.

Shellac uses alcohol
Lacquer uses lacquer thinner
These can get explosive and must be vented.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2401 posts in 2494 days


#21 posted 08-31-2016 12:04 PM

Wouldn’t think shellac is an option given the op’s goals – lots of alcohol fumes. Target coatings has a WB oil emulsion stain, clear base or tinted with dyes, WR4000, with no VOC’s. It can be tinted with Transtint. It looks like an OB stain when dry. Topcoat with a WB finish, Target or GF HP, both can be tinted with transtint. OB will pop the grain better, but lots of fumes – not a good thing with a gas water heater. Another option is to apply OB or shellac outside and let the solvents flash off, then take indoors to cure out. Transtint does a great job of getting whatever color shellac is desired – mixes directly. I use blonde shellac and tint to any color. No need to buy other colors of shellac.

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3320 posts in 3281 days


#22 posted 08-31-2016 12:07 PM

I will look into it as well – how well does the WB stuff harden?

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12903 posts in 2884 days


#23 posted 08-31-2016 05:31 PM

Tung Oil finish… a mix of Tung Oil and poly
- dbray45

Double check the MSDS, some of them are BLO and varnish or just solvent and varnish. Also check the date of the MSDS, some that used to contain tung oil no longer have any. They are also mostly solvent, 60-70% and may contain mineral spirits, naptha, or even MEK. “Tung oil finish” is the biggest scam in woodworking.

http://www.popularwoodworking.com/techniques/finishing/oil-finishes-their-history-and-use

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 1207 days


#24 posted 08-31-2016 06:46 PM

just wax the hell out of it with furniture paste wax.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View gargey's profile

gargey

1013 posts in 1280 days


#25 posted 08-31-2016 06:56 PM

You’re gonna screw up the shellac and wish you used oil based wipe on poly.

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3320 posts in 3281 days


#26 posted 08-31-2016 07:19 PM

Rick – Not disagreeing with you but it is not a bad finish – just starting out. You have to start somewhere and it looks nicer than straight poly.

I mix my own finishes so I know what is in them.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3386 posts in 2302 days


#27 posted 08-31-2016 07:19 PM

Jwmalone’s post reminded me of another option I have used. I have no idea how it would look on walnut, but if you want total toxic free finishing, try soap finishing. It looks good on white oak:

https://blog.lostartpress.com/2015/09/11/my-first-time-using-soap-finish-notes-warnings/

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View StoopidMonkey81's profile

StoopidMonkey81

5 posts in 1140 days


#28 posted 08-31-2016 08:18 PM

Thanks! It doesn’t have to be totally “toxic free”, just with a low and temporary odor that won’t drive my wife (who has a pregnancy enhanced sense of smell) out of the house or cause my unventilated 20×30 townhouse basement (with a gas burning water heater right in the center) to go BOOM.

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 1207 days


#29 posted 08-31-2016 08:55 PM

CharlesA, man I haven’t heard soap finish since I was a teenager. I’ve seen a couple soap finish’s that were really nice. You pulled that from way back on the shelf lol. But a viable option none the less.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View gargey's profile

gargey

1013 posts in 1280 days


#30 posted 08-31-2016 10:05 PM

I think you should use wipe on poly. No shellac. FYI.

View Richard's profile

Richard

1927 posts in 3195 days


#31 posted 08-31-2016 10:50 PM


Ill third the shellac recomendation. Id go with ruby button lac. Itll give you a bit of color and a little more protection being a waxed shellac. Bit of a learning curve to applying shellac however.

Also agree with charles on an oil if you want to blend yellowish sapwood and the darker heartwood. I like medium walnut danish oil. Top coated with gf high performance youll have a nice easy finish schedule with easily workable finishes.

- chrisstef


Another Vote for shellac .
And listen to Charles Neil , He knows his stuff. No Offense CharlesA I am sure you do as well.

View Richard's profile

Richard

1927 posts in 3195 days


#32 posted 08-31-2016 10:55 PM



Thanks! It doesn t have to be totally “toxic free”, just with a low and temporary odor that won t drive my wife (who has a pregnancy enhanced sense of smell) out of the house or cause my unventilated 20×30 townhouse basement (with a gas burning water heater right in the center) to go BOOM.

- StoopidMonkey81


shellac odor will go away pretty quick and about the only way it could make your gas water heater go Boom is if you tossed it right in to it or better yet Spayed it right in. :)

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

5981 posts in 3318 days


#33 posted 08-31-2016 11:23 PM

Whatever you decide on, make up some sample boards to test the entire finishing schedule. Some finishes look wonderful on walnut like satin pre-cat lacquer, or just beeswax and oil mixes like Howard’s. Other finishes can look borderline offensive on walnut, so make sure you like it before you commit.

Sand and finish each sample board just as you would a real project. Let each coat dry.

It’s hard to beat sprayed lacquer, but I understand why that won’t work in this instance.

Good luck with it!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View wood2woodknot's profile

wood2woodknot

102 posts in 2478 days


#34 posted 09-01-2016 03:07 AM

Shellac is nice because each layer “melts” into the previous one, dries quickly, and is easy to repair (new coat melts into the existing coat). Poly finishes like Arm-R-Seal for a top coat (or three) provide a harder finish and more protection against heat, water, and alcohol/chemical damage, etc. Shellac and poly make a dynamic duo, especially for tough conditions.

-- ajh

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3320 posts in 3281 days


#35 posted 09-01-2016 11:33 AM

So many options – let us know what you do. Pictures are always welcome.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View gargey's profile

gargey

1013 posts in 1280 days


#36 posted 09-01-2016 11:36 AM

Make sure to do a trial on a sample board. Apply oil based poly to the sample board, and then use it on your project.

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4592 posts in 4247 days


#37 posted 09-01-2016 02:36 PM

You can also put a few drops of trans tint into the waterbase. it will warm it but can be difficult to match later

A little amber (the yellow offsets the blue)

otherwise you get this:when the teacher sprays WB poly on the banks for the 8th grade shop class.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View gargey's profile

gargey

1013 posts in 1280 days


#38 posted 09-01-2016 02:50 PM

Another thing you could try is just using an oil-based poly without anything else. It has the warming properties and strength you’re looking for, and is very simple.

View gargey's profile

gargey

1013 posts in 1280 days


#39 posted 09-01-2016 10:57 PM

oil based poly

View gargey's profile

gargey

1013 posts in 1280 days


#40 posted 09-02-2016 03:58 PM


oil based poly

- gargey

+1

View StoopidMonkey81's profile

StoopidMonkey81

5 posts in 1140 days


#41 posted 09-02-2016 04:00 PM


oil based poly

- gargey

+1

- gargey

I understand you like oil-based poly. Could you go back to my original post to see my concerns about using that in my work environment and tell me if they’re well-founded or not?

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

8568 posts in 2654 days


#42 posted 09-02-2016 04:26 PM

You are perfectly reasonable in not wanting to use Oil based poly. Ignore them. They never have anything useful to contribute in any thread.

Use water based and add some amber tint to it.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View StoopidMonkey81's profile

StoopidMonkey81

5 posts in 1140 days


#43 posted 09-02-2016 04:52 PM

Thanks! At this point I’m thinking of adding a coat of medium-brown WB dye and topping it with General Finishes Enduro-Var which is already ambered to mimic the effect of oil-based poly.

View gargey's profile

gargey

1013 posts in 1280 days


#44 posted 09-02-2016 04:52 PM

I understand you like oil-based poly. Could you go back to my original post to see my concerns about using that in my work environment and tell me if they re well-founded or not?

- StoopidMonkey81

Actually I prefer water based, highly recommended.

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3320 posts in 3281 days


#45 posted 09-06-2016 06:46 PM

Here’s the thing – and you should test this for yourself.

Get a small can of water based poly and a small can of oil based poly. On two pieces of scrap, give each one a coat and let dry. Put both in the sun for a few hours to speed up the curing (drying is different from curing).

Compare the two and choose the one you like. If you have a small window in your basement put a fan in it to take fumes out of the basement while you are working – always have the air moving out of the basement regardless of which you choose.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4592 posts in 4247 days


#46 posted 09-06-2016 07:32 PM


oil based poly

- gargey

+1

- gargey

I understand you like oil-based poly. Could you go back to my original post to see my concerns about using that in my work environment and tell me if they re well-founded or not?

- StoopidMonkey81


Since you are new at this – - go oil based “wipe on Poly”
You will have no real issues with “flammability”... but you would smell it.

I would use Oil Base (wipe on) on the back deck but out of direct sunlight. because the sun will cause your finish to bubble as the heat drives air out of the pores.

It is the direction we are all being forced to go in (towards Water Base) but a warm finish on Walnut and Water base go together like Screen Doors and Submarines. JMO

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3386 posts in 2302 days


#47 posted 09-06-2016 08:13 PM

Water-based poly alone doesn’t look good on walnut. That seems to be everyone’s view, including those who have favored water-based poly.

You either tint it with a little amber or other dye or you put shellac or other finish on first to warm it. But I can tell you, you use a good shellac (again, I use garnet) with wbp, and it looks great. If poly alone, oil is the only choice.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View RogerM's profile

RogerM

800 posts in 2903 days


#48 posted 09-06-2016 11:34 PM

Garnet or Amber Shellac are traditional finishes for walnut.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

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