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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-31-2016, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
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Default Favorite Way Of Finishing A Project?

What is your favorite way of finishing a project? Why?

Credit: Topic provided by @DesertRatTom

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-31-2016, 12:24 PM
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-01-2016, 08:50 AM
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-01-2016, 11:20 AM
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So far I like oil based stains and wipe on poly best, but then I'm mostly working on picture frames these days. It is really about the surface preparation, once that's done right, and after applying a pre-stain to make the stain spread evenly, I apply an oil stain, let it sit, wipe the excess off. If I want a really dark surface I might apply stain again, wipe and let it dry overnight. Then apply the poly with a folded paper towel.

I just ordered some disposable brushes that I'm going to use instead of the towel, although the paper towel really does a great job. I will probably use the brushes more for stain than poly on most projects, but we'll see.

I went to a restaurant supply store and bought a hundred 2 oz plastic serving cups with lids. I pour the stain and poly (separately of course) in these cups rather than dip directly into the cans. The covers are nice for holding the leftovers for another coat. I have a short block of 2x4 drilled with a Forstner bit to hold the plastic cups with a gripping surface on the bottom of the block to keep it steady and avoid spills. I also use this to carefully apply glue when I want to limit squeeze out. I finish my frames before assembly because squeeze out on porous wood messes up the finish.

I also like painted surfaces. Oddly enough, I don't always like how wood grain looks when finished, particularly when there are cathedrals in the pattern. I tend to avoid wood with that kind of grain, and it is one thing I like about Baltic Birch ply which rarely has heavy grain. I have never finished a shop cabinet other than painting the knobs bright, Ferrari red. Maybe I should just paint the stands?

I'm really curious about others' preferences cause its time to branch out. What about tongue oil? When is it a good solution?

I have used boiled linseed oil in the past, rubbed to a beautiful sheen. And have a can of lacquer that I'm thinking might make a beautiful finish on a frame I'm making out of cherry. Have some leftover (warped) cherry I can experiment on. I'd forgotten I suggested this topic, but I find finishing to be a real challenge to understand. Excited to read others' input.
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Last edited by DesertRatTom; 09-01-2016 at 11:40 AM. Reason: correction.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-01-2016, 01:27 PM
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Default Finishing

I have read articles and watched Youtube videos on finishing. Many have the title of quick & simple finishes. I have tried many of them. What I have found is for myself I could not use just one finish on all projects or all species of wood. For a light wood like maple some finishes make the wood look a yellow/green. I also mix wood species into one project so I don't stain anything. I have always heard that if God wanted maple to be dark He would have called it walnut.

My general finishing regiment is to sand with an orbital sander to 180 grit using sandpaper. I then switch to foam sanding disk that I get from Supergrit. I generally sand 180, 360 and occasionally to 500 with the foam pads. I have noticed that if I sand with a sanding block regardless of the grit going back and forth I get tiny scratch marks that I do not like. If I stop sanding at 180 or 220 on some of the tiger maple I don't like the way the fiber looks. I'm picky about how my finish looks.

After sanding I wipe the surface with mineral spirits - looking for defects. I look for scratch marks and glue residue. If I find any defects I decide how far back I need to go in selecting the correct starting sandpaper. Then apply mineral spirits again looking for defects.

I make a lot of wooden boxes. For the inside of the box I apply 2-coats of 50/50 thinned dewaxed shellac with denatured alcohol waiting about an hour between coats. I do not sand between coats. After the 2nd coat and waiting an hours, I sand with 500 grit foam pad on the orbital sander. I then apply a thin coat of wax - like Renaissance or Liberian Black Bison wax which have low odor. After 30 minutes or so I buff with lambs wool pad on orbital sander. While doing these steps and waiting for the finish to dry I make the top and bottom of the box.

For the outside of the box - it depends on the amount of time I have. Recently I was asked to make a casket for an infant and have it by the next day. On that one I applied 2-coats of cut shellac. Then sanded it with 500 grit foam pad and applied a coat of Lakeone Buffing wax with steel wool. After an hour I buffed it. Came out pretty good.

All of my finishes are applied with a 1/4 sheet of the blue paper shop towel or 1/2 sheet of Viva paper towel. Comes out to about 4" * 4" that I fold to about 2" * 2".

For mixing my materials I use 4 oz. plastic bottles that I get from Midwest Bottle Company. I order different color lids to color code what in the bottle plus I write on the side of the bottle the contents and date. I get the tiny paper cups that holds about 1 oz. (I think hospitals dispenses pills to patients in them) that I scoop up the finish from the cans to pour into the bottle instead of trying to pour it from the can. By mixing the finish in these bottles I don't have to keep opening the can of finish. I put it in the bottle and shake it.

For the outside of the box I apply mineral spirits to highlight any defects - either scratches or glue residue. If any found it is back to sanding and looking again for defects. If no defects found - one of the finishes that I like to use is I apply a light coats of 50/50 mineral spirits and boiled linseed oil (BLO). I wipe it on then wipe it off. I let it set for 24 hours. Before apply any new finishes I always look for defects. If I find any it is back to sanding, looking for defects and reapplying the mineral spirits / BLO finish.

After 24 hours I do not sand and I apply a coat of Zar semi-gloss polyurethane (oil base) mixed with about 25% mineral spirits. I wait about 12 hours and apply the 2nd coat. After another 12 hours I use 500 grit foam disk pad on the orbital sander to remove dust particles. Before applying each coat I always look for defects to see if I need a "do over". If I find a run in the finish, I may have to go back to a 180 grit foam pad to remove it. Then sand with the 350 foam pad and then pick up with the polyurethane. After the finish looks like it is good to go, I let the box set for several days.

Before applying a wax, I inspect it thoroughly because if I apply a wax then find a defect I have to remove the wax then the finish. I then apply a coat of wax (Lakeone Buffing Wax does a good job if you wipe off the excess as soon as you apply it. Otherwise you get streaks). I apply the wax with 4-0 steel wool and wipe off excess immediately. After an hour or so I buffer with lambs wool using the orbital sander. At times I will use one of the other wax and it comes out pretty good.

I hope this help folks.

Malcolm / Kentucky USA
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Last edited by kywoodchopper; 09-01-2016 at 01:30 PM.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-01-2016, 01:55 PM
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I think it depends on the project. I don't think there is one best way. I like Tung oil because it is simple. Wipe on it on and steel wool between coats. I would not use Tung oil on a work bench as all the glue and stuff would stick. Tung oil does not have UV inhibiters so it would not be good in the sun.

And of course there is paint. I think oil based paint levels better than water base but it depends on what you are working on.

I use boiled linseed oil a lot but not as a finish coat on furniture.

I use Danish oil on some of the backs and bottoms of pieces I refinish.

Spar varnish seems to stand up to Texas sun for a few years.

You develop what you like over the years so do not shy away from trying things. You never know what you are going to figure out.
I just recently tried boiled linseed oil, beeswax, and turpentine mixed to together for my work bench finish. I kind of like it. The beeswax smells good.

Last edited by coxhaus; 09-01-2016 at 01:57 PM.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-01-2016, 03:48 PM
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Right now, for my canes, I use several coats of thinned Titebond II. Inexpensive, goes on easily, holds up well. Why? Because that's what I like. I may wind up using a different finish on other projects, but the canes will continue to be done with the thinned Titebond.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-03-2016, 11:18 PM
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I think I'm going to use my leftover bits and pieces of different varieties of woods and try different finishes so I can have some samples to compare. I get from this string that finishing is largely a matter of experimenting until you figure out what will work best. And certainly, prep is critical.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 08:48 PM
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OK, just working on a Cherry painting frame, with, sanding ,prestain, stain, very light sanding, wipe on poly brushed on, 320 grit very very light sanding, wipe on poly brushed on. And it looks very good. Bought a bunch of disposable chip brushes in various widths and it beats the paper towel technique because it doesn't leave a pool of poly in the corners. This will work for me.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-06-2016, 08:28 PM
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I seem to have settled into Danish Oil followed a few days later with several coats of wipe on poly. I know some people like more coats of Danish, but it seems to me that the poly in the Danish will seal the wood, preventing more oil of any kind from penetrating into it. Might as well just go to straight poly at that point.
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