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.
Waterborne polyurethane is very nice and durable. Its also much quicker to
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
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.
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-
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
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