Help with selecting a finish?


Hi all-
I've done a little shellacing and a fair amount of Danish oiling. I'm building a bed (walnut) and was planning to oil it until I realized that projects that I oiled a few years ago that looked fabulous then have dulled somewhat over time. This was mentioned in one book I saw, but generally, it's rare to see that aspect mentioned. I'd like to find a finish that really pops the grain like oil, has a not too glossy look, doesn't dull, and requires little or no maintenance (and won't wear from normal sheet friction and such). Is that a quixotic quest? If so, what are the tradeoffs?
I've never done much real brush work with finishes and I don't have spray equipment, so I'd like to find a process that requires only a modicum of skill. I'm wondering if I can use a little oil for the sake of the grain and then wipe or brush something easy (and not too glossy) over it. Any help out there from you finishing types?
Thanks.
-Tom
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wrote:

Exactly!
If you need color, wipe on a tinted oil. Wiped-on Waterlox Original and wipe-on varnishes are dead easy to apply, and just as easy to fix the rare mistake. If you don't need the tint, you probably won't even need the oil.
If the oil has a pigment in it, use a coat of full-strength Seal Coat or other dewaxed shellac as a barrier between the oil and varnish. The shellac is easily applied with a disposable foam brush. Work quickly and don't go back over areas you've already done. LET THE SHELLAC DRY if you think you've made a mistake! <G> Any shellac boo-boos can be fixed with 400 grit and maybe a spot of mineral sprits (as a lube) AFTER the shellac is fully dry. The barrier coat will stop the wiping varnish from moving or removing pigment. To reinforce the point, DON'T OVERWORK THE SHELLAC, LET IT DRY!
Practice on some scrap, both to decide if you need the oil and to get the feel of the wipe-on process. The test board(s) will also help you decide on a sheen and the number of coats to apply. You'll likely need twice as many coats when wiping as brushing. Routing any old edge profile on the test boards will help you practice on other than a flat surface.
This is an incredibly easy finishing method after just a little practice. Odds are, you won't even need the tint or shellac.
Barry
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I finished a walnut entertainment center last year with Watco Medium Walnut oil followed by three coats of satin wiping varnish with great results. I waited 3-5 days for the oil to cure before I put the varnish on and had no trouble with bleeding, though shellac in between wouldn't hurt.
Good luck (and do a test piece first)
-G
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Get a pound of Cheesecloth and learn how to make Frenching pads. You'll never voluntarily use a brush again. Bugs
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High Score wrote:

I've found I don't need to go through the whole oil process. Just a wipe with Watco immediately wiped dry will pop the grain. Then I apply several coats of shellac or, if water is a real problem, polyurethane.
So far the poly has been used only on a desktop and the top of an aquarium stand :-).
--
It's turtles, all the way down

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I've had good luck with wipe-on polyurethane gel from Rockler - easy to apply, durable, and it seems to bring out grain nicely. I've applied it over stain, and over bare wood, but it should apply just as well over oil as long as the oil is completely dry. Good luck, Andy
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can) You would think it was oil, except it leaves a durable film. Sadly it requires several applications, but nothing is perfect.
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