I've recently completed a desk in quartersawn white oak. I've
finished final sanding to 180 grit and will fume it with ammonia this
week (I'll assemble the desk after linseed oil application and before
shellac; see below). I've done several tests and am confident in the
I've also done some test pieces all the way through the process, and
here's what I prefer so far, though I have a few questions and would
like to see if anyone has another method of finishing fumed oak that
they think I should try before going on with the final stages of the
After fuming (24 hours; 28-31% ammonium hydroxide; 70 degrees), I will
apply 3 coats of boiled linseed oil (drying between) and then a few
topcoats of natural shellac, using 0000 steel wool between shellac
coats. I've tried this and I like the look. It's quite rich, deep
golden brown, and difficult to screw up too.
Is there any benefit to waxing over shellac (I know not to wax before
shellac and my test of waxing instead of shellac wasn't as rich)? Do
you think that a filler or sealer is necessary? If so, precisely what
product and when? Is there any other method I should try or anything
I'm not thinking of?
Thanks for any comments.
You've already gotten some good advice. If your final polish-out of the
shellac is with #0000 steel wool (or equivalent), then there's no need to
fill the pores. I read some concern over a porous surface being
problematic if there is to be writing occuring on the desk (well, paper on
top of the desk, naturally). If someone's going to use your desk for a
writing surface, they should use a blotter or something similar. Only the
most boorish, retrograde, slacking dolt uses real wood as a direct writing
surface. Well, that kind of person and/or wonderful kids, but hey, what
they do with their french polished curly maple topped desk is their own
This is why drafting tables are formica ;).
Waxing after shellac yields just a bit more sheen. I prefer the feel of
shellac over wax, so I wouldn't bother. Plus, the wax is susceptible to
water damage, while the shellac (unless the water is very hot - 150F or
more) is not.
As for oiling, for years and years I've been using walnut oil. The color
is light and stable, though the oil (when dried) is rather soft. No
problem. I use the oil merely for the "wet paper bag" effect. It's that
depth we're after. So I thin it (3:1) with turpentine, wipe it on, and
then immediately wipe off as much as I can.
Lastly, rubbing shellac with steel wool in between coats is unecessary
after the first coat. The first coat will generally raise the grain and
you'll want to knock back the nibs. I prefer 320 grit sandpaper on a
rubber sanding block, lubed with turpentine. It cuts faster and leaves a
more even surface. Steel wool will tend to follow already-established
imperfections in the finish. Then I'll complete the finishing schedule
using whatever method of applying the shellac is best suited (a whole
http://www.klownhammer.org/ - Home of the World-Famous Original Crowbar
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.