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Finishing oak: oil-based stain, de-waxed shellac, and poly?

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Forum topic by HTX_woodworker posted 09-01-2018 04:01 AM 1232 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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HTX_woodworker

23 posts in 436 days


09-01-2018 04:01 AM

Topic tags/keywords: oak finishing arts and crafts

I’m finishing a Stickley-inspired lunch table (unfortunately, with white oak, not quarter sawn). I was planning to apply 2 coats of Minwax stain, followed by 1-2 coats of Liberon de-waxed shellac, after which I was planning to apply 2-3 coats of Minwax polyurethane (using either a brush or by hand). I had a few questions with this…

1) What ratio of shellac : denatured alcohol would you recommend to seal the stain? I have heard stories of stain bleeding through once the poly was applied without shellac, but I don’t remember having this problem before.

2) Is there a better option than poly? My previous projects have all had either brushed or hand-rubbed poly, and I’ve experienced good results with both. I’m looking for something durable and resilient. I had considered lacquer as a potential alternative.

I’d like to keep the finish relatively simple, if possible.

I’ll be finishing this project in my garage, and as I am in the Houston area, it’s about as humid as a rainforest during this season.

Any ideas on keeping dust or other particles from marring the finish? I had considered rigging up a sort of finishing booth with plastic sheets.


9 replies so far

View Rich's profile

Rich

4555 posts in 1008 days


#1 posted 09-01-2018 05:11 AM

Jeff Jewitt’s Homestead Finishing site has some recipes that might be of interest. They are very simple and well documented in this PDF file:

http://homesteadfinishingproducts.com/stickley.pdf

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5585 posts in 2912 days


#2 posted 09-01-2018 10:50 AM

Some comments: for the shellac, the dilution may depend a little on how you want to apply it. I generally spay it, and use a 1# cut, but if I pad it I use a little thicker cut…probably 2#. I can’t brush it, but if that’s your approach the 2# would probably work well. But I’m not sre you need it in this case. Not knowing more about the “stories” you’ve heard, generally an oil based finish over an oil based stain is perfectly fine….be sure to let the stain dry fully so it doesn’t streak. You could try a test board first to convince yourself. Lastly, I don’t like anything “poly”, so my choice would be an alkyd resin varnish….but if you’ve used the urethane varnish and liked the results there doens’t seem to be a reason to change.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2357 posts in 2408 days


#3 posted 09-01-2018 12:44 PM

I also dont know of a reason to use shellac in your suggested finish schedule. For a simple finish schedule, try poly toned with dye (I use WD Lockwood oil based dissolved in naptha). It takes some testing to get the right intensity, but once you get there its very easy.

Re-reading Jeff Jewitts article, he states thin film finishes and darkened pores. My approach would be mw poly thinned 1:1 with ms, add dye concentrate to get desired intensity. Finish sand and leave all the dust. Flood the surface with finish, keep it wet for 10 min, while continuing to wipe the poly around pushing dust into the pores, wipe off. Do a second coat the same way. Now finish it off depending on the desired look and film thckness. Another coat or 2 of thinned wipe on poly, or for thicker film brush or spray. The amount of dye is adjusted for the intensity desired. This is similar to a danish oil finish but gives complete control over the color and intensity, and the poly is tougher than the danish oil. A big advantage is wet or dry sanding can be done without concern for sanding through the color. The dye just puts the color back. The sanding dust pushed into the pores concentrates the color making them darker.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

3536 posts in 1806 days


#4 posted 09-01-2018 01:36 PM

I am certainly no expert but I cannot see any need to use a shellac between the stain and the poly, especially since both are made by MW. If you follow their directions and allow extra drying time for the stain in your Houston humidity. I doubt you’ll have any problems. I suspect that bleed through problems you have heard about were caused by incorrect application or incompatible stain and top coat combinations. When in doubt, test your finish on a piece of scrap prepped to the same level as your finished piece.

Creating a tent might help with dust but could extend your dry times even more. You’ve obviously got to eliminate the dust from your garage first and keep the door closed to avoid air currents from stirring up anything new. Light sanding between coats of the poly helps fix any dust nibs. I like using 3M finishing pads (000 and 0000 equivalent) for use between coats. Also, I personally prefer satin finishes and that seems a little more forgiving than the glossier ones when it comes to dust.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View HTX_woodworker's profile

HTX_woodworker

23 posts in 436 days


#5 posted 09-04-2018 01:59 AM



Lastly, I don t like anything “poly”, so my choice would be an alkyd resin varnish….but if you ve used the urethane varnish and liked the results there doens t seem to be a reason to change.

- Fred Hargis

What sort of alkyd resin varnish do you prefer using?

View CWWoodworking's profile

CWWoodworking

528 posts in 598 days


#6 posted 09-04-2018 04:34 AM

Sherwin Williams BAC stain and 2 coats of pre cat. done in a couple hours.

View Rich's profile

Rich

4555 posts in 1008 days


#7 posted 09-04-2018 04:46 AM


Sherwin Williams BAC stain and 2 coats of pre cat. done in a couple hours.

- CWWoodworking

Replies like this are totally useless. Maybe you just slam out the finishes like no one else can and it’s all easy for you, but if you’re replying to a request for help, give some detailed instructions.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5585 posts in 2912 days


#8 posted 09-04-2018 10:33 AM

Lastly, I don t like anything “poly”, so my choice would be an alkyd resin varnish….but if you ve used the urethane varnish and liked the results there doens t seem to be a reason to change.

- Fred Hargis

What sort of alkyd resin varnish do you prefer using?

- HTX_woodworker


About the only one left on the market (that I know of) is the Pratt and Lambert 38, and it’s not available to me locally…I have to order it online. I do have a few cans of the Cabot 8000 left in my stash, and one can of McCloskey’s Heirloom…..both brands killed by the manufacturer.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View CWWoodworking's profile

CWWoodworking

528 posts in 598 days


#9 posted 09-04-2018 05:36 PM

Rich,

The only other thing I would add is sand to 150. You can spray or wipe the BAC, doesnt matter. If you have the time, I prefer wipe.

The precat will obviously have to be sprayed. Precats are extremely easy to spray. Take a few minutes adjusting your gun and spray.

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