chess board finishing

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Forum topic by Chameleon posted 03-05-2021 11:31 PM 300 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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50 posts in 1135 days

03-05-2021 11:31 PM

Topic tags/keywords: chess board finishing fingerprints wiping varnish

This is actually a two-part question. I’m making a chess board with drawer, and noticed dark smudges on several of the walnut pieces which have been sanded to 180 (see photo). I’m guessing that these are fingerprints, although I’m surprised my fingers are that oily! If I use an oil-based finish, will the dark smudges “disappear,” or do I have to remove them by sanding or other means?
Second, what type of finish do you recommend? I saw a post that recommended one coat of boiled linseed oil, followed (after a couple of days) by a “wiping varnish” (which I’ve read is varnish diluted by varying amounts of mineral spirits) which is lightly sanded after every coat or two, using a total of 4-6 coats. I’m sure there’s no “correct” answer, but any other suggestions? Thanks, Howard

3 replies so far

View woodman71's profile


194 posts in 4384 days

#1 posted 03-05-2021 11:51 PM

First one maybe glue from gluing the box together. Yes you will need to sand our they will show up in your finish. For the finish to used I would use a brush on lacquer. I have built this chess board and that is what I used no complaint fast to can put on multiple coats in one day just follow the instruction on can.

View 18wheelznwood's profile


135 posts in 90 days

#2 posted 03-06-2021 12:07 AM

You might try some denatured alcohol to try to remove the smudge.

View CaptainKlutz's profile (online now)


4372 posts in 2554 days

#3 posted 03-06-2021 12:21 AM

First, wipe the surfaces down with mineral spirits.
Will clean sweat/oil finger prints if that is problem.
Light spots are glue residue that needs sanding.
Dark lines/swirls as it dries are scratches from course grits.

IMHO – The skipping pattern of the dark lines down the board is typical pattern created by planer with dull blades or non-flat board. Can usually feel these impressions with fingertips. MS wipe will accentuate these. Fix is to sand the panel and even out surface.

Do not need to use oil finish, followed by wiping varnish; if you use an oil based top coat?
Only need to use oil coating for grain highlights, when using a water based top coat.

If you want a film finish, wipe on 2-4 coats of GF Arm-R-Seal.
If you want a natural finish, apply 2-3 costs of BLO.
If you need a fast finish, spray on couple coats of solvent based lacquer.
All three of these will slightly darken the Walnut, adding a touch of amber and warmth to wood.

PS – Like the design. Feels familiar, except I dyed my washed out steam walnut. :)

As always, YMMV
Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

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