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What is the best finish?

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Forum topic by nate22 posted 01-23-2021 11:28 AM 690 views 1 time favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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nate22

501 posts in 3882 days


01-23-2021 11:28 AM

I am wondering what the best finish is for wood projects. I see a lot of people using beeswax or some kind of an oil to finish projects with. Are those good ones to use or is there other ones that are better. What I am making is cutting boards, coaster’s, and jewelry holders. Only thing I have used in the past was polyurethane for the furniture I make.

Just wondering what the best finish would be.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.


26 replies so far

View KYtoolsmith's profile

KYtoolsmith

208 posts in 867 days


#1 posted 01-23-2021 11:58 AM

For finishing small projects and even furniture, I’m in the oil finish camp. I use Minwax Antique Oil as my base with thinned coats sanded in with wet-dry automotive finishing paper in 600 or finer grit. Multiple applications over several days until I get the level of luster and grain filling desired. I wait 24 hours between each application. For food items such as cutting boards I use one of the salad bowl oils such as Watco Butcher Block Oil. On turned items, I use wax free shellac as a base before applying oil.
Many ways to skin a cat…
Regards, The Kentucky Toolsmith!

-- "Good enough" is just another way of saying "it could be better"...

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6826 posts in 3500 days


#2 posted 01-23-2021 12:00 PM

There is no such thing as “best finish for wood projects”. There is, however, best choices for certain types of projects….though everyone has a different slant on what they are. For the stuff you names I would use mineral oil on the cutting boards (along with a statament on how to care for and renew the finish), probably a varnish on the coasters (call it “ploy” if you want) and probably shellac or nitro lacquer on the jewelry holders. I might also consider a waterborne on the latter. But this is just one of the many opinions on what to use.

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

View SMP's profile

SMP

3426 posts in 912 days


#3 posted 01-23-2021 03:20 PM

Well, my go to finish for “most” things is GF Arm-r-seal. But i wouldn’t use it on cutting boards, for things that actually get cut on i just use pure tung oil. If i want a more traditional looking finish I use various methods, one of them being what Kytoolsmith wrote.

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

4650 posts in 2229 days


#4 posted 01-23-2021 04:52 PM

I agree with Fred on all these. Boxes need something that doesn’t smell or have a long dry time before all the solvents evaporate, A closed box (and drawers) hold these odors for a very long time. Shellac gives a fine looking surface and pops the grain. The overwhelming favorite for boards is some mineral oil (maybe blended with bees wax, heated up and applied), or one of the other non-rancid turning nut oils. No film finish as this will quickly turn into a big mess.

For coasters, the cutting board formulas are good (with the maintenance), but a film finish is great protection, but if any moisture gets through it will start to peel.

Also consider ways to pre-finish the insides of boxes. It is much easier to get an even finish if you need to rub out or sand the finish and not have to worry about getting into the interior corners.

View pottz's profile

pottz

14730 posts in 1991 days


#5 posted 01-23-2021 05:29 PM

for cutting boards mineral oil,for everything else i use the maloof oil blend,or general finishes oil based finishes such as arm r seal.experiment until you find the one that you like,there is no perfect finish.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

8475 posts in 3272 days


#6 posted 01-23-2021 05:35 PM

General finishes wood bowl finish for cutting boards as recommended by Charles Neil. He also recommended shellac over danish oil before any sort of varnish. I’m a fan of gloss poly on small projects. Sprayed WB poly on larger projects.

View LesB's profile

LesB

2859 posts in 4450 days


#7 posted 01-23-2021 06:32 PM

As you can see everyone has a different idea on how to finish things.

A couple here that I disagree with. First shellac under oil. The shellac will prevent the oil from penetrating. Second mineral oil is fine but it never dries or “cures”. When wax is added it helps.
General’s wood bowl finish is a hard finish not suitable for cutting boards but quite durable on salad bowls and other similar items. I use it all the time on salad bowls. Even General suggest using a oil/wax finish on cutting boards.

My preference is processed or heat treated walnut oil for cutting boards and food utensils; also works on other small wood working items and can be top coated with a hard finish. It penetrates and cures to a dry state, can be re-applied as needed and a wax top coat can be added. WoodCraft has a walnut oil and wax paste that makes a good top coat. Processed walnut oil does NOT become rancid as one person suggested and is non allergenic due to the heat treatment. Mahoney’s is a good brand.

For items like jewelry boxes shellac is good, quick, and easy. It comes clear or amber and other colors can be added. Most other finishes can take months to to fully cure and lose the odor that can be trap inside a box or cupboard. I have put poly on clock cases that have given off an odor for over a year every time I open the case to wind the clock.

-- Les B, Oregon

View KYtoolsmith's profile

KYtoolsmith

208 posts in 867 days


#8 posted 01-23-2021 06:51 PM

LesB, I use shellac under oil on turned items for exactly the reason you give… It seals the wood when finishing on the lathe. That way I’m not using as much “oil” to create the top coat finish and I have lower curing time during on-lathe finishing. I’ve done this with both Minwax Antique Oil and Watco Danish Oil with good results. I didn’t invent the method… Read it in one of my books on turning.
Regards, The Kentucky Toolsmith!

-- "Good enough" is just another way of saying "it could be better"...

View Andybb's profile

Andybb

3163 posts in 1610 days


#9 posted 01-23-2021 07:24 PM



I am wondering what the best finish is for wood projects.

- nate22

I am not being sarcastic but I honestly don’t think there is any one real answer to this question. Do you want shiny or satin or flat or the bare wood look? What species of wood is being finished? Do you want to spray it, brush it, wipe it?

Finishes are like a certain body part. Everybody’s got one, but the upside of that is that the possibilities are endless.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

1460 posts in 1966 days


#10 posted 01-23-2021 07:36 PM

You really need to look up finishes and there applications. Each project may have a different need..

I may use a pre-cat on top, but polyurethane on the top to repair future scratches.

It just varies. Sherwin and Williams calls th eir conversion varnish the Cadillac of finishes..

View Andybb's profile

Andybb

3163 posts in 1610 days


#11 posted 01-23-2021 11:31 PM

Couple of excellent resources….
Two of the best
Bob Flexner

Charles Neil
Charles Neil was a member here until his recent passing.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View pottz's profile

pottz

14730 posts in 1991 days


#12 posted 01-23-2021 11:47 PM



As you can see everyone has a different idea on how to finish things.

A couple here that I disagree with. First shellac under oil. The shellac will prevent the oil from penetrating. Second mineral oil is fine but it never dries or “cures”. When wax is added it helps.
General s wood bowl finish is a hard finish not suitable for cutting boards but quite durable on salad bowls and other similar items. I use it all the time on salad bowls. Even General suggest using a oil/wax finish on cutting boards.

My preference is processed or heat treated walnut oil for cutting boards and food utensils; also works on other small wood working items and can be top coated with a hard finish. It penetrates and cures to a dry state, can be re-applied as needed and a wax top coat can be added. WoodCraft has a walnut oil and wax paste that makes a good top coat. Processed walnut oil does NOT become rancid as one person suggested and is non allergenic due to the heat treatment. Mahoney s is a good brand.

For items like jewelry boxes shellac is good, quick, and easy. It comes clear or amber and other colors can be added. Most other finishes can take months to to fully cure and lose the odor that can be trap inside a box or cupboard. I have put poly on clock cases that have given off an odor for over a year every time I open the case to wind the clock.

- LesB


ive heard you talk about walnut oil many times,i think i need too give it a try les.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Andybb's profile

Andybb

3163 posts in 1610 days


#13 posted 01-24-2021 12:18 AM


As you can see everyone has a different idea on how to finish things.

A couple here that I disagree with. First shellac under oil. The shellac will prevent the oil from penetrating. Second mineral oil is fine but it never dries or “cures”. When wax is added it helps.
General s wood bowl finish is a hard finish not suitable for cutting boards but quite durable on salad bowls and other similar items. I use it all the time on salad bowls. Even General suggest using a oil/wax finish on cutting boards.

My preference is processed or heat treated walnut oil for cutting boards and food utensils; also works on other small wood working items and can be top coated with a hard finish. It penetrates and cures to a dry state, can be re-applied as needed and a wax top coat can be added. WoodCraft has a walnut oil and wax paste that makes a good top coat. Processed walnut oil does NOT become rancid as one person suggested and is non allergenic due to the heat treatment. Mahoney s is a good brand.

For items like jewelry boxes shellac is good, quick, and easy. It comes clear or amber and other colors can be added. Most other finishes can take months to to fully cure and lose the odor that can be trap inside a box or cupboard. I have put poly on clock cases that have given off an odor for over a year every time I open the case to wind the clock.

- LesB

ive heard you talk about walnut oil many times,i think i need too give it a try les.

- pottz


And let’s not forget about my latest arrow in the quiver…Rubio Monocoat and the other wax finishes.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View pottz's profile

pottz

14730 posts in 1991 days


#14 posted 01-24-2021 12:51 AM


As you can see everyone has a different idea on how to finish things.

A couple here that I disagree with. First shellac under oil. The shellac will prevent the oil from penetrating. Second mineral oil is fine but it never dries or “cures”. When wax is added it helps.
General s wood bowl finish is a hard finish not suitable for cutting boards but quite durable on salad bowls and other similar items. I use it all the time on salad bowls. Even General suggest using a oil/wax finish on cutting boards.

My preference is processed or heat treated walnut oil for cutting boards and food utensils; also works on other small wood working items and can be top coated with a hard finish. It penetrates and cures to a dry state, can be re-applied as needed and a wax top coat can be added. WoodCraft has a walnut oil and wax paste that makes a good top coat. Processed walnut oil does NOT become rancid as one person suggested and is non allergenic due to the heat treatment. Mahoney s is a good brand.

For items like jewelry boxes shellac is good, quick, and easy. It comes clear or amber and other colors can be added. Most other finishes can take months to to fully cure and lose the odor that can be trap inside a box or cupboard. I have put poly on clock cases that have given off an odor for over a year every time I open the case to wind the clock.

- LesB

ive heard you talk about walnut oil many times,i think i need too give it a try les.

- pottz

And let s not forget about my latest arrow in the quiver…Rubio Monocoat and the other wax finishes.

- Andybb


got a sample yesterday andy gonna try it out tomorrow,ill let ya now my thoughts on your review thread.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25912 posts in 4112 days


#15 posted 01-24-2021 12:55 AM

It depends on the end use of the product. There is no ONE good finish for everything. For cutting boards you need food safe finishes and there are lots of them. for outdoors you might want a UV resistant finish. For tables where you will have alcoholic drinks, you might want a lacquer. For chairs with high use and handling, you might want a polyurethane or lacquer.

For most everything that will have a lacquer or poly finish, it is a good idea to use shellac for a first coat ( sealer). It is a “primer” for any finish too..even paint.

If I use an oil, though, I like to put it on bare wood..maybe 2 coats.

Good luck, Nate….............Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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