What finish to use???

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Forum topic by ShannonRogers posted 06-04-2008 10:54 PM 1129 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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540 posts in 5242 days

06-04-2008 10:54 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing walnut lignum vitae carving white oak book ends

My father-in-law was recently going through the tough task of cleaning out his recently passed mother’s possessions. He came across these carvings that used to be the arms of a chair. He vaguely remembers mounting them to a board to keep them about 50 years ago. He asked me if I could do something with them so they could be displayed more prominently.


My father-in-law also has always had a love for Lignum Vitae. As a scientist, he loves the fact that this species is so dense that it sinks in water. As an engineer, he loves that it used to be used to make ball bearings. I bid on a small block I saw on ebay and won it knowing that I would incorporate it into this piece somehow. He is a very educated man and his office/library is his own cabinet of curiosities so I thought this would be the place to display this project. Hence…



Book ends!!!

So here is the question. I planed down the original mounting block to discover that it is walnut with some kind of amber finish on top of it. The carvings are White Oak. I don’t want to strip down the carvings as I am not convinced that I can get all the finish off and worry about refinishing it. With my father-in-law’s love of Lignum, I don’t want to cover it up too much so how can I unify these three disparate woods into a common theme that will look nice. Any finishing thoughts???

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

3 replies so far

View lew's profile


13532 posts in 5209 days

#1 posted 06-04-2008 11:42 PM


If you haven’t already attached the Lignum to the Walnut, perhaps an edge “wrap” of Walnut (1/4” thick) around the Lignum. Make the finished width to match the Walnut base. Finish the piece with clear, gloss finish. I wouldn’t touch the bear heads- I don’t think you can improve on the beautiful aged finish they already have.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 5242 days

#2 posted 06-05-2008 03:41 AM

I hadn’t thought about the edge wrap. Unfortunately this is already glued. I’ll see if I can figure out a way to do it. I think that would tie together the various woods well and I could get away with a clear finish.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

View bbqking's profile


328 posts in 5177 days

#3 posted 06-05-2008 04:04 AM

Just wrap the Lignum and the walnut. Done deal. bbqKing

-- bbqKing, Lawrenceville

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