Wood Finishing

To Finish or Not To Finish

In a few circumstances a case can be made for leaving wood unfinished. Examples include leaving outdoor wood unfinished to weather to the much loved silver grey look of old outbuildings and, in the kitchen, where utensils and wooden items coming into contact with food are left raw because of concerns about the food-safe properties of many finishing products.

A further obvious case is with toys which children may suck on or handle and then in turn suck their fingers.

Other than these instances 'finishing' wood is usually indicated for reasons of preservation, appearance, function and for the protection of the item.

 

Skin or oil Finish

The majority of wood finishes fall into one of two types, skin (or membrane) finishes and oil finishes.

Skin finishes provide a mostly 'on the surface' finish whereas oil finishes are more 'in the surface' . Common skin finishes include shellacs (which in their most sophisticated form become French Polish), lacquers and varnishes. Skin finishes cure, or 'dry' by a variety of methods including chemical polymerisation, reaction to the water present in the air and solvent evaporation.

 

Oil finishes include raw natural oils such as tung, linseed and walnut oils. These oils will cure naturally when exposed to air.

 

The essential requirement of an oil finish for indoor use is that the oil cure, either naturally or, in the case of the manufactured products, by means of chemical driers or catalysts.

 

The best place to start is maybe with a good book;

 

Hand Applied Finishes by Jeff Jewitt Item Code: B1516

...The ins and outs of applying 6 classic finishes by hand: shellac, oil, varnish lacquer, milk paint, and water-based finishes.

A Polishers Handbook by Neil Ellis Item Code: B1532

....This is a valuable resource for Australians who wish to try their hand at French polishing.

 

 

We offer hundreds of products related to finishing. Use these links to some of our restoration and finishing products - if you don't see here what you need search our site.

 

Tools & Accessories

These are some of the essential tools of the trade

C1243 Steel Wool ........................The 0000 grade is essential

C0680 Tack Cloths ...................... Useful for the final dust down prior to applying a finish

E2385 Polishing Brushes ............. A wide range of natural hair brushes for shellac and other products

E2450 Buffing Brushes ................ Soft brush for burnishing wax

C9131 Decant, Measure, Repack .. Beakers, jugs and high quality plastic measurement storage containers

 

Revivers

A reviver will often give startlingly good results. Try this class of product first - you may not need to go any further.

C5935 Polish Reviver ................... Useful over all skin finishes to remove white water marking

C5936 French Polish Reviver......... Useful on mature French Polished surfaces

C5932 Ring Remover.................... Proven product for removing white water mark rings on hard finishes

C5938 Wood Floor Reviver........... For reviving all wooden floors

 

Cleaners and Burnishers

A stage more aggressive than a reviver

C5920 Burnishing Cream ............ Contains very fine abrasive - like a 'cut & polish' car cleaner

C8020 Furniture Cleaner............. Cleans wax & grime

C8023 Wood Floor Cleaner......... May allow you to defer refinishing

 

Bleach & Strippers

Use these big guns when you have no intent to retain patina or you have staining to deal with

C8253 Bleach ............................. Can bleach right through to no colour is used repeatedly

 

 

Fillers & Putties & Repair Sticks and Dye Pens

To mask scratches, fill dings and, when thinned, to fill grain.

C3930 Wood Filler ...................... Water based & 2 pack options. Water based makes great grain filler

C3945 Filler Sticks - Wax ............. Micro-crystalline wax which takes a top coat - 40 colours

C4070 Filler Sticks - Shellac ......... For a harder fill - 9 colours

 

Pumice, Talc & Rottenstone

Essential for French polishing and numerous other filling applicatrions and gloss adjustments

C5455 X-Fine Pumice .................. Grain filler for polishing

 

Stains & Dyes & Pigments

To colour the wood

C3050 Aniline Dyes ...................... Easy to make your own spirit or water dye - 17 colours and options

C3646 Water Soluble Dyes .......... Proprietary made up dyes based on aniline colours

C3680 Spirit Soluble Dyes ........... Can be diluted with Methylated Spirits

C3727 Van Dyke Crystals ............ Makes a legendary walnut brown dye - simple & safe

C4418 Earth Pigments ................ Truly an ancient process to colour wood

 

Sealers

To prep the wood for finish coats

C2556 Sanding Sealer ................. Spirit based, fast and thinnable

 

Oil Top Coats

C2891 Pure Tung Oil ................... The king of drying oils - all natural

C2910 Wood Oil .......................... Our simple version of a made up wood oil - Citric Terpene and Pure Tung

C2905 Finishing Oil ..................... Interior uses - contains some Tung

C2931 Danish Oil ......................... With UV filter

 

Skin Top Coats

C2413 Shellac Flake ......................Seven grades and colours to choose from

C2551 Lacquer in Aerosol ............ Highly convenient for small jobs and touch ups

 

Waxes

Used at the end of virtually every finishing job (French Polish the probable exception)

C7130 Renaissance .................... Micro-crystalline wax - the king of waxes

C7190 Carnauba Blend .............. Liberon - famous brand

C7450 Carnauba Blend .............. Antiquax - another famous brand

C7040 Carnauba Flake ............... Make your own wax blends

C7059 Beeswax ......................... Make your own wax blends