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What is a good finish to put on oak kitchen cabinets?

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Forum topic by Brawler posted 01-28-2020 04:59 PM 713 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Brawler

117 posts in 461 days


01-28-2020 04:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cabinets kitchen

I’m redoing my kitchen, but I’m not replacing my cabinets except one. The cabinets are particle board boxes with oak face frames and doors. The “sink” cabinet was totally wrecked from a water leak years ago. Because I’m cheap and happen to have a fairly well stocked woodshop I had just put together. I built my own oak veneer plywood box. I stripped and sanded the face frame and doors and about to stain them anytime now. I admittedly am a rookie in woodworking and I have no knowledge about finishes outside of tung oil.

My question, what would be a good durable finish for my cabinet? BTW, I live in Michigan and it is cold outside so I have to apply the finish indoors.

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI


23 replies so far

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BurlyBob

7046 posts in 2896 days


#1 posted 01-28-2020 06:26 PM

In a conversation I had with Charles Neil, he recommended a couple of coats of shellac before I sprayed on a waterbased poly. We’ve had this finish on the kitchen cabinets I built and have loved it.

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Brawler

117 posts in 461 days


#2 posted 01-28-2020 06:58 PM

Thanks Bob, is there any special kind of poly or brand, and can I get that spray on poly in an aerosol can? Is there anything special about cleaning and maintenance, or just a wipe with a damp rag?

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI

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ibewjon

1220 posts in 3424 days


#3 posted 01-28-2020 09:06 PM

I use oil base poly for floors from varathane. Tough as nails. It may not give you the color you need, it does have a golden shade to it. It has been on our floors for 25 years with hardly a scratch.

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MPython

220 posts in 443 days


#4 posted 01-28-2020 09:08 PM

You can wipe on poly rather than spraying. I finished my oak shop cabinets with wipe-on poly 7 or 8 years ago and they still look as good as new. Minwax has a wipe on poly that works well. It comes in both gloss and satin. “Satin” poly contains tiny silicon discs that flatten the sheen to give you a softer finish appearance. The flatteners obscure the wood grain a little with each coat. If you use satin for 3 or 4 coats, the effect is noticeable – the grain lines look a little “muddy,” but the effect is small for a single coat. To preserve the grain appearance, start with several coats of clear gloss finish and flatten the sheen with a final coat of satin.

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CaptainKlutz

2399 posts in 2125 days


#5 posted 01-29-2020 01:31 AM

+1 Couple coats of blonde or amber shellac made from flakes so you control the color, and then 2 coats WB poly.
No offense odor.

Varathane WB Poly adds zero color (hence the shellac), and can be brushed on. Light glycol/alcohol odor. It has been very durable for me on several drawer boxes.

if was going to spray, would use commercial WB catalyzed lacquer from Gemini or Target. Can not recommend General Finishes WB, except maybe the commercial Enduro products. But even commercial Enduro WB poly is not as good as above options.
YMMV

Best Luck!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

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hkmiller

199 posts in 712 days


#6 posted 01-29-2020 02:27 AM

Have used the Gemini pre cat lacquer in the past that make a good product never the waterborne though

-- always something

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CaptainKlutz

2399 posts in 2125 days


#7 posted 01-29-2020 03:18 AM



Have used the Gemini pre cat lacquer in the past that make a good product never the waterborne though
- hkmiller

Two of my local independent finishing suppliers sell Gemini. They claim the Gemini is the highest volume top coat they sell to professional shops? Only used it a couple times. WB not as durable as solvent systems, but it’s least objectionable WB I can get locally.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

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SMP

1736 posts in 536 days


#8 posted 01-29-2020 03:29 AM


Thanks Bob, is there any special kind of poly or brand, and can I get that spray on poly in an aerosol can? Is there anything special about cleaning and maintenance, or just a wipe with a damp rag?

- Brawler

Aerosol poly will cost a fortune to do a whole kitchen. Could probably buy an HVLP setup for cheaper. Minwax wipe on works well for a BORG purchased. I get slightly better results from General Finishes. Did you plan on using grain filler? Or are the current cabinets open grain?

Also as to shellac i would use dewaxed shallac flakes or if BORG just get the sealcoat

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BurlyBob

7046 posts in 2896 days


#9 posted 01-29-2020 09:14 AM

Dan, I bought the Earlex system a couple of years ago from Highland wood working when they had it on sale. Just about everything I’ve done since I retired was to develop my skills to tackle this kitchen cabinet project and acquire enough of the needed tools to get the job done. Time and patience have paid off.

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Brawler

117 posts in 461 days


#10 posted 01-29-2020 11:29 AM


Thanks Bob, is there any special kind of poly or brand, and can I get that spray on poly in an aerosol can? Is there anything special about cleaning and maintenance, or just a wipe with a damp rag?

- Brawler

Aerosol poly will cost a fortune to do a whole kitchen. Could probably buy an HVLP setup for cheaper. Minwax wipe on works well for a BORG purchased. I get slightly better results from General Finishes. Did you plan on using grain filler? Or are the current cabinets open grain?

Also as to shellac i would use dewaxed shallac flakes or if BORG just get the sealcoat

- SMP


No, I’m not doing the whole kitchen, just the sink cabinet. I’m leaning towards a brush on poly vs aerosol because I really don’t have anywhere to spray. I know I could do the temp paint booth thing with plastic, but for one cabinet seems like a PITA.

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI

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Brawler

117 posts in 461 days


#11 posted 01-29-2020 11:35 AM



You can wipe on poly rather than spraying. I finished my oak shop cabinets with wipe-on poly 7 or 8 years ago and they still look as good as new. Minwax has a wipe on poly that works well. It comes in both gloss and satin. “Satin” poly contains tiny silicon discs that flatten the sheen to give you a softer finish appearance. The flatteners obscure the wood grain a little with each coat. If you use satin for 3 or 4 coats, the effect is noticeable – the grain lines look a little “muddy,” but the effect is small for a single coat. To preserve the grain appearance, start with several coats of clear gloss finish and flatten the sheen with a final coat of satin.

- MPython


Thanks a lot for the information on the satin vs gloss poly. Those details I find valuable, thanks for sharing.

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI

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Brawler

117 posts in 461 days


#12 posted 01-29-2020 11:54 AM

SMP asked if the cabinets have “grain filler”, how would I know? I don’t think they do, however I’m not sure.

I think in summary I’m going to use blond dewaxed shellac (2-3 coats), WB poly(3-4 coats), with last coat in satin. Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and experience with me. If there is any more advise I will continue to monitor this thread.

Best Regards

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI

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CWWoodworking

609 posts in 810 days


#13 posted 01-29-2020 01:37 PM



SMP asked if the cabinets have “grain filler”, how would I know? I don t think they do, however I m not sure. I think in summary I m going to use blond dewaxed shellac (2-3 coats), WB poly(3-4 coats), with last coat in satin. Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and experience with me. If there is any more advise I will continue to monitor this thread.

Best Regards

- Brawler

My experience with WB is somewhat limited, but after 7 coats isn’t it gonna look like it was dipped in plastic?

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BuckeyeDennis

77 posts in 329 days


#14 posted 01-29-2020 01:51 PM

It’s always a good idea to test your finish on a piece of scrap wood, before applying it to your actual project. In this case, since you’re not planning to refinish the other cabinets, I’d say that it’s downright critical. You’ll be trying to match both the color and the sheen of the other cabinets, which probably won’t be easy. Good luck!

-- Dennis 'We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.' Charles Swindoll

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Robert

3626 posts in 2111 days


#15 posted 01-29-2020 02:15 PM

If you can see or feel grain texture it is not filled. Most likely it is not that oak is usually filled if its a table top.

A water based urethane or polyacrylic will work well. Brush coats/lightly sand with 320 b/t coats.

I do not see a need/advantage of the shellac.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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