Finishing

I have a general knowledge of stains and have done some experimenting with stains and some different woods, but how does one know when to use different protecting finishes such as oils, shellac, polyurethane, etc.? Anyone also know of a good tutorial online to provide some insight?
Thank you
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wrote:

I've always referred to Jeff Jewitt's _Hand Applied Finishes_. It's a peach.
-- If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is "thank you," that would suffice. -- Meister Eckhart
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wrote:

Jewitt has some really good stuff out there and sells his own finishes. If you buy from him, you can call him and get a 5 minute consult on his products.
I always like Bob Flexnor's books better, but that is certainly a matter of individual taste.
When I was starting out, I liked books better as I could take them with me to the testing grounds to set up guns, try brushing techniques, padding techniques, and to troubleshoot problems.
If you are looking for something online, just Google "furniture finishing tutorial" and you will find things like this everywhere:
http://www.creationsbykara.com/2010/05/diy-tutorial-staining-furniture.html
Good luck!
Robert
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SBH wrote:

You forgot lacquer :)
Basically, one uses what one wants taking into consideration what the piece will be used for and the finish characteristics. A brief rundown...
OIL Very easy to use both initially and to repair. Colors the wood well, offers little to no protection. Boiled linseed oil will darken considerably over time, tung oil doesn't.
LACQUER I'm assuming you don't have spray equipment, NP, Deft makes a nice brushing lacquer. It too is easy to apply initially and to repair but doing so is more work than oil. Most commercial furniture is finished with lacquer. It is reasonably scratch resistant and water proof. Dries rapidly which means multiple coats can be appied in one day. No sanding is needed between coats as a new coat melts into the underlying ones.
SHELLAC Much the same as lacquer, may color the wood more depending on what kind (color) of shellac is used.
ALKYD/PHENOLIC VARNISH Dries slowly (hours) to an attractive and durable finish. Needs multiple coats, sanding between coats. Will color the wood.
POLYURETHANE VARNISH The hardest and most scratch resistant coating the average DIYer will encounter. It is the most difficult to repair. It needs sanding between coats unless additional coats are applied within the time frame specified by the manufacturer (generally, within four hours).
There are two kinds: oil base and water base. The oil is marginally more durable, colors the wood. Water base colors the wood very little, good for light colored woods that you want to remain light but to me it looks "dead". Water base dries more rapidly.
ACRYLIC Never used them, don't want to. _____________
Any clear top coat - with the exception of oil - requires a *LOT* of work to get a good looking, flawless surface; they will never be any better than the surface to which they are applied. That means the surface needs to be dead flat, free of tool marks and sanded smooth. They need at least three coats, many times six or more.
Top coats which melt don't have to be sanded between coats except to remove dust nibs, others (again, excepting oil) do to get rid of dust, drips, runs, etc. For a really good job, the last coat needs to rubbed down with something like FFFF steel wool and then polished with finer abrasives (pumice/rottenstone) to whatever degree of sheen you want. Steel wool followed by paste wax will give a pleasant, semi-gloss sheen.
--

dadiOH
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Not as durable, but if applied right, nothing else can equal it for appearance and feel. Great finish for appreciative customers who don't abuse their furniture.
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Thanks dadiOH
From what you've explained, using these finishes eliminates the use of stains since some darken the wood or is it safe to assume the finish which doesn't really color wood or colors very little can be used with stains or can any of these be a mix and match?
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Orange or garnet shellacs lend a warm tone to otherwise cold looking woods, such as cherry or walnut.
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On Mon, 28 Mar 2011 15:24:13 -0700 (PDT), Father Haskell

Cherry and Walnut are cold looking woods? <yikes!>
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On Mar 28, 7:24pm, " snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz"

When newly surfaced, before aging. Tinted finishes are very common with older walnut and cherry.
Air-dried walnut contains lots of blue and purple. Puts kiln-dried to shame.
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On Thu, 31 Mar 2011 19:53:28 -0700 (PDT), Father Haskell

They still aren't "cold", IMO. Ash may be considered "cold", but even before developing a patina, Cherry is very nice stuff. Of course it only gets better with age.

I still don't see "cold".
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Father Haskell wrote:

I don't see the above as an individual post so am replying to it here.
You can use any top coat on a piece of stained wood. I suppose you could use oil too but it would serve little purpose if the stain was oil base. Oil base stains pretty much seal the wood thereby preventing top coats from coloring the wood by wetting it.
The top coats that color the wood don't darken it so much as wet it. If you dab a bit of spit (or water if you are fastidious) on wood it will color (darken) the wood but that color disappears when the wood dries just as it does with water base top coats. Color is also added by the natural color of the top coat (which is due in large part to the oil in it for varnishes). Color is also added as the top coat ages; again, for varnishes, that is mostly due to the oil...linseed oil by itself becomes a blackish red when in thick layers. Finally, even raw wood changes color as it ages due to UV and air; light woods generally become darker and many dark woods become lighter and warmer (eg, walnut) but some darker woods such as cherry and mahogany become darker and redder. That natural aging also occurs under clear top coats though an UV inhibitor in the top coat will slow the aging.
Stains are used for various reasons:
1. To make a piece of wood resemble something which it is not. EG, walnut stain on poplar
2. To enhance the natural color. EG, a reddish stain on mahogany
3. To even up the color. EG, color lighter sap wood
4. To give wood an un-natural color. EG, blue, green, black, etc.
IME, beginning amateur woodworkers almost always use stain regardless of what wood they are using. As time passes and they learn to appreciate the natural colors, grain patterns and figures of wood, they almost never use it.
--

dadiOH
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snipped-for-privacy@invalid.com says...

Always read the instructions for both the stain and the topcoat. Some stains aren't happy with some topcoats. Also for any combination of stain and topcoat, try it on a test piece--sometimes the topcoat can alter the color of the stain.

5. To match an existing piece, EG much mucking about to get a set of shelves to match the color of a 200 year old book case.

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wrote:

Here's a more extensive but similar rundown from Jeff Jewitt:
http://www.finewoodworking.com/pages/w00060.asp
My only comment to what is listed here, is that if you are going to mess with lacquer get a high quality respirator.
Other than that, there are tradeoffs in terms of expense, ease of application, sheen, durability, impact of the solvents on your lungs, liver, and the environment, and how much color the finish imparts to the wood.
I generally use boiled linseed oil to bring out the grain and shellac or alkyd varnish as a top coat, depending on if I need the durability of varnish. If not I'll use shellac from flakes because it is inexpensive and fast and I can add dye if I want to adjust the color.

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*No* finish is always an option. Plane or sand the wood smooth with 2,000 grit and let the oil and wear from handling bring out the patina.
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