Other - Old Masters Gel Polyurethane (Rating: 5)

I got this stuff last summer and have used it on several projects since. Primarily on woods that are prone to blotching. I tried it after I read about it in a Bob Flexner book.

I like it very much. It goes on and comes off with great ease. All you need to do is put some on a cloth and wipe it onto your wood. Wait a few minutes and then wipe off the excess. It will dry to the touch in a few hours. It's not particularly smelly nor messy. It's as easy to apply as boiled linseed oil and is essentially idiot proof.

It works especially well on blotch prone woods like cherry and maple. I finished a large cherry desk with this stuff and the finish is even, unblotched, and uniform.

The two greatest advantages are the lack of blotching and the ease of application. Also, it's easy to get dust and crud off of the finish while it is drying.

There are two downsides, however, that you should be aware of. One, it takes a lot of coats to build up a protective film. More than a "liquid" wipe on varnish. As a result you end up having to use more product and it takes longer, as a result, to build up said film. The drying time is pretty fast but no faster than a liquid wipe on poly.

Two, it's fairly expensive compared to the other poly varnishes I've used. And because you need a generous amount of the stuff, it can be pricey to finish a large project with it.

I didn't knock any stars off because these downsides are inherent in a gel varnish and doesn't represent a failure of the product.

My suggestion would be to get a small can of the stuff to try it out. If you like it, it's more cost effective to get a larger can. It's definitely worth a try, at least on blotch prone woods.