I'm looking for advice on how to finish a bench I've just completed. It is
made using Birch 3/4" plywood and a face frame (made of cherry for
contrast). Usually, I just slap on 3 coats of a satin oil-based
polyurethane and call it a day. I want to try something different for this
project so I'm thinking Tung Oil perhaps? I've never worked with anything
other than a poly, so don't know what effect TO will have on the look of the
wood. I've read this article,
http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/pages/w00060.asp , which is
informative but didn't help me decide if TO is the what I want.
The main question is what do you need to protect the bench from?
If it's a work bench then you want something repairable. raw linseed oil,
If it's an outdoor bench you want something like a long oil varnish (spar)
If it's an indoor piece there are many options.
Take some scraps of your ply and cherry, sand or scrape them however
you finished the bench, and nail them together roughly. Now finish
those with the oil, and see what you think.
Don't start with pure tung, get a can of a commercial finishing oil
instead. It dries more easily, is thinner to apply and doesn't smell
so strongly. I always use it, and even if I mainly use tung, I apply
a couple of coats of the thinner one first. You won't regret getting
a can to try out.
Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods
Since oil based varnish is tung oil and resins you shouldn't see much of a
color change from what you are used too seeing.
It's always best to check on some scrap first though.
As for the "look", oil is not a finish that builds. After three or four
coats applied as directed you should have a soft warm looking finish
You may want to consider using a Danish oil. Pretty much the same look and
application as the tung oil but with some varnish type resins that will give
you somewhat more protection.
Again, oil finishes are not finishes that are meant to build. They provide
minimum protection but, on the other hand, can be easily rejuvenated with
the application of more oil.
I'll second the recommendation for Flexner's book. Every workshop
should have a copy.
I recently finished my first big project with shellac...and will
likely do many more. Much easier to work with than poly, IMO.
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