Any tips for finishing this walnut/maple project?

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Forum topic by TTH posted 09-24-2020 01:04 PM 595 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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32 posts in 641 days

09-24-2020 01:04 PM

So I’m creeping closer to being ready to finish my very first project. Still sanding and trying to fix some joints, but I’m starting to think about what kind of finish to use on it. My plan was just to use lacquer but I thought “what the heck? Electrons don’t cost much. I’ll make a post and ask the experts.” Is there some other finish you guys would recommend?

The project is going to be a charging station for a variety of devices.

While I’m here, let me pick your brains about a sanding question. As I’ve been sanding the project, the dust from the walnut is sticking into the endgrain of the maple. How should I clean that up prior to finishing?

Appreciate your thoughts!

-- Travis, DFW

8 replies so far

View Robert's profile


4838 posts in 2817 days

#1 posted 09-24-2020 01:29 PM

If you want to keep the maple untinted lacquer is a good choice as well as water based polyacrylic or urethane.

Oil based finishes and shellacs tend to impart an amber color.

The tool of choice here a hand plane. Sanding tends to selectively remove more face grain than end grain.

But, I see the face grain is proud, so sanding can work.

The dust can be removed with compressed air.

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

View TTH's profile


32 posts in 641 days

#2 posted 09-24-2020 02:01 PM


-- Travis, DFW

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


2877 posts in 884 days

#3 posted 09-24-2020 04:13 PM

Blo and beeswax buff. Alot easier than lacquer, and if the finish gets dull over time, just buff wax again.

-- WWBBJ: It is better to be interesting and wrong, than boring and right.

View Andybb's profile


3383 posts in 1940 days

#4 posted 09-24-2020 07:37 PM

Looks great! I’m curious to know what it is!

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View SMP's profile


5072 posts in 1242 days

#5 posted 09-24-2020 07:41 PM

I recently had a similar dilemma. I didn’t like the way the lacquer looked plain on my test boards, so I put down some zinsser CLEAR shellac and I think that added more depth to the wood than just plain laqcuer, in my opinion.

View Madmark2's profile


3257 posts in 1925 days

#6 posted 09-24-2020 08:08 PM

I use a Johnson’s paste wax finish to keep items clean until I poly a batch. The wax is renewable, strippable, and let’s the natural grain and color show. This is the only finish on lots of smaller projects and buffs nicely. I’ve easily gotten a lustrous shine on coffee table sized surfaces with just a good hand buff.

For a “real” finish I do two coats of 50%-50% thinned poly followed by a final coat of 100% poly. The first coat is lightly rubbed out with 00 steel wool or 400 grit, 2nd with 000 steel wool or 600 grit and final coat with 0000 or 1200 automotive wet/dry. All of that with a final coat of Johnson’s and a hand buff.

Just about every woodworker has their own special recipe. There is no “right” answer.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View typing's profile


48 posts in 922 days

#7 posted 10-03-2020 08:12 PM

I went through my share of experimenting with finishes. And here is my own conclusion which might differ from yours.

Shellac French Polish: It looks far better than any other finish but require a lot of efforts and time, Very difficult to put correctly on anything but flat surfaces. The worst of all – it is very weak and easily spoiled by almost anything for example by the rubber feet of table lamp.

Sprayed shellac – looks as good as any other finish, very forgivable but is subject to easy water damage and wear out relatively easily. Good on anything but table tops.

Oil based wipe on: Very good reviews and good results by almost everyone but me. I just never could make the perfect last layer. I tried almost anything but the surface still does not look completely uniform. Also requires a week of wiping on and several weeks to cure.

Oil based polyurethane, sprayed. Excellent finish if you do not mind amber tint ( same for other oil based finishes). But your shop after using it is trashed. Unlike other spray finishes the overspray does not dry before hitting other things and you will have very hard time cleaning everything around from the sticky residue.

Oil based polyurethane brushed on. Looks as good as sprayed when applied a professional with a lot of experience. I personally would get brush marks.

Water based polyurethane, sprayed. Easy to work with and very good results, somehow different look from oil based, but does not add amber tint. The finish is very durable, same as oil based polyurethane. But once you have a damage it is difficult to fix.

Water based brushed on. Forget it, very difficult to get it right.

Lacquer sprayed. I was postponing using it for a long time. But I finally tried spraying on the few last pieces of furniture I made and I can tell you it is far the best finish of them all. Looks very good. Depending on the brand does not add amber tint. Easy to work with, very fast drying and your product is ready in hours. Unlike polyurethane can be easily enhanced by polishing. The only negative I see it scratches easier (which is relatively easy to fix) than polyurethane and not very environment friendly.

Lacquer brushed on: I even have not tried it after my failed attempts with other brushed on finishes.

View BurlyBob's profile


9517 posts in 3602 days

#8 posted 10-04-2020 05:48 PM

Natural Danish oil to make the grain pop, 2 coats of 1lb light shellac followed by how ever many coats of clear water based poly.

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