newbie finish advice

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.
Thoughts?
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I'd get Bob Flexner's book on finishing and also "Finishes & Finishing Techniques" from Taunton Press ISBN 1-56158-298-0. Two GREAT references.
dave
Mitch Abaza wrote:

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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, shellac, etc.
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.
David

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wrote:

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.
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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.
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Mike G.
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Mitch Abaza wrote:

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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Chris Merrill
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