Workbench Finish Questions

I am within a few days of having my workbench construction completed. The top is constructed of 2 solid wood doors laminated together and faced with oak ply and a full 1/2 X 6 inch oak apron, The base is constructed of construction grade pine with 3/4 oak ply for the cabinet doors and side panel inserts.
Hoping for some suggestions on what finish to use when I reach that point. I would like to stain the entire project with minwax golden oak as we have used it around the house and like the appearance. I need the top to be water resistant so when I spill my drink or worse it won't soak into the wood before I can wipe it up. I would also like easy glue cleanup, etc. I have seen recommendations for poly, tung oil and boiled linseed oil. Will the oils go over the stain? Are they water resistant? Should I finish my base differently from my top? What about Spar urethane varnish over the stain vs. the oils? Is stain even recommended? When folks refer to wipe on poly, does this mean wiping on with a rag or a brush?
How about some of you seasoned experts giving a newbie some good advice. I have worked long and hard on this project and want it to look nice when I'm done. And yes, I know it won't stay looking nice for long, but I just want it to look good for some pictures before I mess it up :~) I'll post some pictures in ABW when I am done if I can get some help from y'all reaching that point :~)
Many thanks in advance for any input I can get.
Bob N
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Use poly over the stain, I've used the minwax poly with good results. Scratches, dings and dents are inevitable, poly allows you to light sand and re-coat
I have a roll of brown craft paper (36" w 40lb ) hanging in a dispenser. I use this stuff for all sorts of things, but bought it for laying over bench tops while gluing.

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I use an oil finish and re-apply it every year. You can apply an oil or varnish over the stain, allow several days to dry between. The bench will get scratched, dented, stained, etc if you are using it a lot. I usually rest a drink or can of stain on newspaper.
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Two solid core doors, is the top masonite? I would use a poly. Your Minwax golden oak will do fine for a workbench top. I don't think you will much color over the masonite. I finish the top of my bench (birch) with whatever leftover polys I have.
Dave

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I think I read that the top is 'oak ply', which means that next year, it will be masonite. I can't see a veneer top holding up under workshop conditions, regardless of the top coating.
It's a tool, not furniture. Oil, poly, wax, work, smile.
Patriarch
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Ah.... but I have a couple of solutions for that also. I have a sheet of hardboard to put on the top when working with the messy stuff then removing when finished so the top will stay looking well when not in use.
Also the oak ply is removable and replaceable when it becomes "ugly" :~)
I know it is a tool and I try to keep all of my tools looking and working their best this one will be no different.
Just don't know much about proper finishes yet and need a little advice to get me on tract.
Many Thanks
Bob

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Then what you want to get is a quart of Waterlox Original and rag it on.
Three coats everywhere except the top. Then use the rest of the quart on the top. Wipe it on until it won't absorb any more, then come back and do the same thing the next day. Repeat until the can's empty.
When it needs touching up, scuff it with 120 grit, and do it again.
Good stuff. About $18 per quart. Standard oil rag safety protocols apply.
Patriarch
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Patriarch,
That sounds like a good plan and one I have not looked at. Will it work with stain?
Thanks for the tip.
Bob

apply.
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Yes. Let the (solvent-based) stain cure a couple of days, and you'll be happier with the results. I've used the soy-based Varathane stains on several projects, under Waterlox, with success.
Patriarch
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Hi Patriarch,
Where do you get your Waterlox? Their web site says it's available at True Value stores, but I have yet to find one that stocks it. I have taken to ordering mine via mailorder from Highland Hardware.
I've been using Waterlox since last Christmas ... first on a series of game boxes made from cherry, walnut, and mahogany scraps. Recently I'm finishing an unusual project (telescope) made from mahogany and Peruvian walnut.
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<snip)

My [relatively] local Woodcraft outlet(s) [gloat] stock it, in several flavors. And last week, it was on the overstock (30% off) table. Someone cancelled an order for a case of quarts, for some reason.
There is a reported problem with gelling in the can, once open, so don't order more than you're likely use within a couple of months. Some of the turners on Woodcentral report that they transfer to smaller, glass containers for storage, with success.
Patriarch
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...

Hmm, I did have a problem with gelling in the last inch of my quart can. I had assumed that I didn't put the lid on tightly enough.
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On Tue, 22 Feb 2005 06:20:12 GMT, the inscrutable Nate Perkins

I get mine from Russ at www.woodfinishingsupplies.com The Original in medium sheen is $16.99/qt. or $45.99/gal.
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Ouch, I've been paying 26 bucks for a quart from Highland, plus shipping on top of that.
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On Wed, 23 Feb 2005 06:29:15 GMT, the inscrutable Nate Perkins

I ordered a gallon last night after I "talked" with you. That and a quart of clear waterborne acrylic which I wanted to try spraying. I don't like glosses but some folks do, so I thought I'd give it a try on something I wasn't going to keep, prolly a jarrah table.
Shipping for that weight + some pint and quart containers came to $11 and change, not nearly as bad as I feared.
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Two solid core doors, is the top masonite? I would use a poly. Your Minwax golden oak will do fine for a workbench top. I don't think you will much color over the masonite. I finish the top of my bench (birch) with whatever leftover polys I have.
Dave

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