Step Stool Project

I'm building a kitchen step stool project out of oak and was wondering what finish might be best. I've seen much discussion about poly, varnish, tung oil but I'm very sensitive to the smell of solvents so what might be the least offending but suitable for this project.
Thanks
Rocky
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waterborne polyurethane
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Waterborne polyurethane is very nice and durable. Its also much quicker to apply. The one I have used is a clear finish and shows no amber color. On pine I apply Tung oil to give the wood an amber shade then I use a waterborne polyurethane. On ash and oak I prefer using Danish oil. Sometime its sold under antique oil or Swedish oil. Tung oil is more natural but not as water resistant as Danish oil. Meaning if you have a glass containing alcohol or other stuff the finish may get marked. With Danish oil it does not make any water or alcohol marks. Minwax are selling Tung oil. If you read the chemical composition its more of a Danish oil finish.

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My preference for something that will see wear, like a step stool, is oil. Use a polymerized oil such as polymerized tung oil for best results. This way, after it wears a little, lightly sand and re- apply.
Waterbased Polyurethane is a great finish, vastly improved since it was introduced (thank California for their existence) and is quite durable, but will wear off the edges of the step stool gradually - and it's much harder to repair.
Regarding the smell, waterbased poly has very little odour while oil does have some odour, but I don't believe it has the same effect as traditional varnishes or other products with lots of solvent in them. Give oil a try in a well ventilated area. If necessary, set up a fan to 'gently' blow accross your work area, taking the odour away from you.
Michel www.woodstoneproductions.com Woodworking Portal
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