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Finishing Tips, Recipes and Tricks

8671 Views 17 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  JoeLyddon
I've posted some links here to some great finishing recipes from some of the Jocks on this site. I think I'm missing a lot, and I'm looking for more input from those that I've left out.

I'm looking for some of your finishing recipes that you all use. It would be nice to compile one topic with all the recipes and techniques, or if you prefer a specific type or brand of finish that you have found to work really well. I typically use tung oil, but I want to seriously explore other options in this area. As much as I hate to admit it (I despise finishing), I think the finish you choose is just about as important as the project.

I'm interested in all types of finishes on this topic, those used for indoor and outdoor projects, for projects related to human consumption (like cutting boards), those that block UV rays for woods that change in UV light, etc. Also, if you have a link to one of your projects where you have previously explained a certain finish, then please don't by shy- go ahead and post it here for the rest of us to find.

Tung Oil/ Oil and wax

I got to thinking about this when I was reading Frank's recent post about tung oil.

Let's not forget Don Kondra's Secret Magic Mix for Tung oil.

Tony has a great series on finishing with Oil and Wax. Make sure to read through all the parts, it's a great series.

Here's a Tung Oil discussion, started by Brad, with information from Steve Russell in it that is worth the read. It has a ton of information in on many subjects, recipes, food safe finishes, on and on. Give yourself some time for this on, and put on your thinking cap.

Here's another good Tung oil/wax and wipe on poly discussion started by FoamieOmie. It has good info in it regarding the last coat applied.

jim1942 has a great discussion on the application and problems with generating a shine with a tung oil finish here.

Poly application
Here's a good link by JuniorJock that talks about the material used to apply poly between coats.

Finishing Tips/ Rubbing out

Dennis Zongker gives great advice on his post with his Griffin end table.

TampaTom starts a series on some great finishing information.

Here is a comprehensive site on finishing that I got from flink's LJ post of Cool websites for Woodworkers.

Myron Wolley has a topic about hand rubbed finishing that has good advice on it from Douglas Bordner and schwingding.

USCJeff has a great blog on finishing wisdom.

Here is another complete Finishing Tips Guide on WoodCentral.


Here is an article by Rustic that gets some good conversation about a toy safe beeswax finish.

Rit Dye/ Other Dye

Daren Nelson has a great finishing trick with Rit Dye here, and a related article by Tim Pursell where his quarter sawn white oak finish looks terrific.

Gizmodyne has a topic about an Arts and Crafts finish where Dusty and others give great advice.

Emeralds has a short topic on achieving Red Hues in stain. Pretty good information was contributed by the Jocks.

I found a musical instrument finishing site on the net that is pretty comprehensive. Here is one on Guitars, with an entire span of resources and knowledge of finishing. If you have time, this site is WORTH the read. Bibb shows a project in LJ's here from a similar dye process, the Red Pagoda Jewelry box... His formula recipe for the pagoda box is here.... great project.


Here is an excellent article in LJ's by FosterFurn for an ebonizing finish.
Here is Allison's Ebonizing finish.
Here is BBQKing's "dark as midnight" Iron buff (ebonizing) discussion. Part 1. Part 2 (with pics).
Trifern blogs about an unbelievably fantastic ebonized finish called liming.


Here is a site with Homemade and Alternative Stains and Colorants.

Master craftsman Karson shares some advice on Pumice and Rottenstone as wood filler on a how-to blog series.

Karson also has a good article on a recipe for spalting your own wood.

MrWoody has a great discussion here about using tack cloths before finishing.

Anyway, I think we could all benefit from compiling some of our finishing techniques to take some of the mystery out of it.

Thanks in advance,
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Great idea, Steve!

It would be nice, once the "complete" list is created, to convert all of the information into a single document and then post it here- or on a file sharing site. That way everyone could go to a single "click" location.

Using Deft Danish Natural Oil:
Using paper towels, apply a very wet coat, keep wiping it on so the surface maintains a "wet" look. Keep this up for about 15 minutes. Then wipe dry using a new paper towel. If you encounter a sticky spot, use your wet paper towel to rewet the area and then wipe dry.

Allow to sit for about a week until you can touch the surface and it does not feel tacky. Do a quick buff-sanding with an old abralon 500-grit pad. Using paper towels again, wipe an area wet (no more than you can cover in 5-10 seconds) and then immediately wipe dry with your dry towel. Work from the top down so that drips do not fall on areas already done. Allow to dry for another 24-48 hours and you are done.

This is what the finish looks like when completed on black walnut sanded to 500 grit:
Lew- I think you're on to something…
Rich- Thanks, that chair is awesome!
Great topic Steve. For wood turning finishes I use EEE-Ultra Shine for cutting & polishing & Shella Wax on top burnished on. I have found the application very good but like many waxes you need to repeat the process when it wears down.
Shellawax EEE - Ultra Shine
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I would like to find out more about Isogard. I have seen the finished results on wood turned products & it produces an excellent finish. It is a two part epoxy type application, acetone is one of them. If anybody has any experience with it some knowledge on how it is applied would be appreciated.
Hello Steve;
-and thanks for including a link on the tung oil blog//story!

I've got to say as I've stated before, finishing is one of the best parts of the whole process for me and after working the wood and getting to the point of finishing….I actually look forward to the time spent on finishing. Hmmm, I wonder does this make me weird or….maybe it's just that I fried my brain long ago and I'm in a daze by this time.

I am presently working on a long blog//story to be coming up soon, on the finishing of the walnut counter top, that will include some information about:

1.)-shellac, de-waxed and waxed….mixing your own and store bought….
2.)-tinting your own shellac….
3.)-how to apply and the many coats or few, like when is enough-enough….
4.)-what types of brushes are you going to use….and you might be surprised….
5.)-surprises and myth busters and all that mis-information out there, that has been promoted to make us think we can't do or should not use shellac….
6)-and experience. Maybe I will not all-ways agree with those books that we read and maybe after reading what I have to say, you will decide to not follow what I write and thats all-right with me, but you will be informed and then you can choose you're own path. And then also, my experience level with shellac amounts to….should I say. I mean when we start thinking about shellac, maybe we should also consult with the lac bug….

Ah yes, finishing….tried a new one out today on some 28 year old pine board and batten siding that has also been mixed in next to new pine board and batten siding. The name of that wood oil finish is Penofin….just love it.

Well I'm out of here and once again,

Thank you.
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Steve -

Excellent post! Great gathering of some wonderful finishing information.

David @ The Folding Rule
Grumpy- I've never seen that wax before.. I've been reading a little about it since your post and it seems like an awesome product. (and it looks easy, just my style)
Frank- You're welcome Sir… when you get done, post us a quick link here
David- Thanks- great link to shellac information…

Great idea for a topic tab!

I think finishing is often hurried and the results show it.

A listing of finishes used for different woods, and some photos of the results would be a tremendous help.

Hey Steve, here is a link to my bog on liming.
Steve, Check out my blog on Pen Finish using linseed oil & Superglue
another one for the 'favorites" pile. Thanks!
Great topic Steve, favorited and for sure read through several times in the future.
Holy smokes, this will keep me busy for days. Thanks. Just reading through the 1st link and as ever I am totally impressed by the lengths that fellow hobbiests go to to help others.
Here are some I've pulled from the net… I haven't tried them, so take it at face value.

Oil Varnish

The first one is for an oil/varnish blend. This finish is similar to Watco Danish Oil, Deft Danish Oil, or Minwax Antique Oil Finish.

Here are the Ingredients:

1 Part-Boiled Linseed Oil
1 Part-Varnish (I use gloss polyurethane)
1 Part-Mineral Spirits (I usually use a little bit less than this)

This finish is applied the same as the above products.

1. Wipe the finish on with a rag.
2. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.
3. Buff the remaining finish off with a clean cloth.
4. Don't put your old rags near an open flame…They can catch on fire.

You will need to put on at least three coats. I usually put on four for the heck of it.

Each Coat needs to dry about 24 hours

You can also tint this finish with non-fibered roofing tar to get a walnut tone…I haven't tried this yet.

Wipe-on Poly

This one is pretty simple. It is similar to Formby's Tung Oil Finish, and Minwax wipe on polyurethane.

3 Parts-Polyurethane (Any Sheen, Any Brand…I like ACE because it's cheap)
2 Parts-Mineral Spirits

1. Apply finish with a rag
2. After drying, buff with 000 steel wool
3. Repeat until desired gloss is achieved

Again, you will probably want to put on three coats.

Paste Beeswax

This is a finish that my dad has used for years…It was also used by my grandfather.

1 Part Beeswax (It works best if you shave the beeswax with a block plane)
1 Part Turpentine

1. Mix ingredients together in a jar with a tight sealing lid. Grandpa used a Jelly jar, Dad uses a tin can.
2. When the Beeswax is dissolved your ready for business
3. If the mixture is too thin, leave the lid off and let some of the turpentine evaporate.

Wipe a thin coat of the finish on your work with a rag. Let it dry about 20 minutes or so, and buff it off.

If you add some linseed oil to the recipe you can use this as a finish for raw wood.
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You will find some more Finishing goodies here…
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