What finish?

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Forum topic by hairy posted 06-16-2019 02:12 PM 294 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2876 posts in 3954 days

06-16-2019 02:12 PM

To say I suck at applying finish is a compliment, I’m not that good.

I’m building some boxes that will have lift out trays. Solid cherry with 1/4” bb ply bottoms. Box thickness 1/2”, tray thickness 5/16”.

I’m hoping that the trays are a snug fit, they’re not yet built. I’m incorporating a false bottom in the box, and I want the trays to look built in as much as possible, not so obvious that they lift out.

So, I can’t have a thick finish, fearing it would affect the fit and make it too tight to remove the tray. I’d prefer to use a rattle can spray on the box. I will use a spray can on the bb ply. I don’t have a spray gun, and I’m not getting one.

I used to use Olympic Antique Oil finish, but haven’t seen it available for years. It wasn’t a spray, but gave a nice shiny, feel good in my hands finish with 1 coat. It was really good. I’ve been using Watco Danish Oil lately, but it takes so many coats before it starts looking good, at least in my experience. I’ve been putting it on thick,waiting 20 minutes, rub it all off and wait 24 hours to do it again.

My questions might be more than just the finish, maybe it’s all in the fit between the different parts.

Any and all input appreciated. THANKS!!!!!

-- My reality check bounced...

10 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


5456 posts in 2773 days

#1 posted 06-16-2019 02:20 PM

Try Arm R Seal, wipe on with a rag, pretty fool proof.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View cowboyup3371's profile


102 posts in 619 days

#2 posted 06-16-2019 02:26 PM

I am not that good either with finishing work but I built a Jewelry box for my sister-in-law last year and incorporated a pull out ring tray for her. The ring tray is stained with an Ebony dye and one or two coats of lacquer while the outside just has a few coats of lacquer on it.

She tells me it is still standing and working great (I am in Ohio and she lives south of Houston Texas). These are the pictures taken from outside to in so you have an idea of how it played out.

Entire Jewelry Box

Inside of Main Carcass showing ring box and others

Ring box

Pull out tray stained

Checking the fit originally

-- Cowboy Up or Quit - If you are going to quit than get out of my way

View Aj2's profile


2321 posts in 2220 days

#3 posted 06-16-2019 03:30 PM

I don’t finish the inside of the boxes I make. Sometimes just a lite coat of blonde shellac.
It’s pretty common not to finish the inside of compartments because oil will take forever to dry. You can get stuck with a horrible rancid smell.
So leave it natural and look at woods that have a pleasant smell. It’s a nice surprise to open a box and have a nice aroma or a natural wood smell.
Good Luck

-- Aj

View Manitario's profile


2765 posts in 3305 days

#4 posted 06-16-2019 04:19 PM

I use Watco “Tung” oil (which is essentially just a Danish oil, ie. an oil/polyurethane blend) on 99% of my projects. It is probably the simplest to use and really difficult to mess up, but you’re right, it takes at least 3-4 coats b/f it starts looking good.

It really depends on what you think “looks good” ie. if having a bit of gloss to the finish looks good to you, then I’d suggest a couple of coats of oil based wipe-on poly; it won’t be a thick coat and the oil base will give a bit of lustre to the wood. Other finishes like shellac or lacquer have a bit of a learning curve associated with them. I like shellac and have used it on a number of projects but it is best to practice with it first. It can also give the wood a nice sheen and depth.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5595 posts in 2915 days

#5 posted 06-16-2019 04:30 PM

Like AJ said, any oil finish on the inside of a box is going to smell for a very long time. On the interior parts shellac or a waterborne finish would alleviate the odor problem…the shellac can be put on very thin and look very nice. You could use a spray solvent lacquer, but the best choices would be shellac or the waterborne.

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

View therealSteveN's profile


3116 posts in 996 days

#6 posted 06-16-2019 05:39 PM

I m building some boxes that will have lift out trays. Solid cherry with 1/4” bb ply bottoms. Box thickness 1/2”, tray thickness 5/16”.

I m hoping that the trays are a snug fit, they re not yet built.

- hairy

hairy, Shellac is about as thin as you can make a finish 1# cut is like water, and doesn’t dry any thicker, and on friction fit trays I’ve always found it worked best to apply a wax finish to help the slip and slide you need. I am skeert to use oil finishies as they tend to grow fatter as you apply, so unless you underbuild, they may not fit inside after finishing.

Both the shellac, and the wax are easily applied by a clean cloth, and elbow grease. The more of the later you impart the cooler the finish IMHO. What that means is it is time and energy more than knowledge to apply them.

No knowledge about the smell talked about, but I would always make sure it stayed with me until everything was cured. I can see sending any finish out still uncured could have major implications. I should point out, cured for me is what the manufacturer says it is, it is always long after dry to the touch.

-- Think safe, be safe

View SMP's profile


1199 posts in 327 days

#7 posted 06-16-2019 07:02 PM

I’ve used Minwax Antique Oil finish and that is a nice finish IMO, but I personally like 2-3 coats applied with 600 wet dry paper. 1 coat looks more like shellac but you can try, i guess it depends on sanding regimen

View pottz's profile


5558 posts in 1406 days

#8 posted 06-16-2019 09:48 PM

I use oil on all my furniture because I like that it maintains the feel of the wood and is very repairable for scratches or whatever,just sand and apply a new coat.i use the same formula that sam maloof did,1/3 tung oil,1/3 linseed oil and 1/3 satin can buy it at rockler but I mix my own,much cheaper.i give it 3-4 coats and buff it out with wax. it takes about a week for the small to start going away though.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View Lazyman's profile


3562 posts in 1809 days

#9 posted 06-16-2019 11:13 PM

A wipe on poly will give you a nice finish with better control of the thickness of the buildup and one of the most foolproof finishes that I have tried. Multiple light coats and just stop when you get the finish you want. Pottz’s recipe above is a good DIY wipe-on poly but I’ve found that the minwax one is a little easier since you don’t have to mix it. I also like Tried and True varnish oil for a more natural look and I actually find the smell pleasant until it cures.

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

View OSU55's profile


2363 posts in 2411 days

#10 posted 06-17-2019 12:38 AM

You can get a lot of different “looks” and “feels” with plain ole solvent poly (gf ars, minwax, whatever brand). Its all about the sheen selected, how much its thinned, and application method. A favorite of mine is to thin it 1:1, and apply it just like danish oil for 2 coats – flood the surface, keep wet 10 min, wipe off. Then do whatever you want – keep doing the same, wipe on thin coats, brush or roll thicker coats. I like to wet sand the 3rd and maybe 4th coat, depending on how much fill is needed. This method would work well on the trays. Several examples in my projects. You can add dye to the poly as well. You might find this interesting reading.

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