The Final Finish for your Woodwork Project

finsihed wood bowl
Most wood turning pieces are going for a specific finished look. Learn the difference so you can plan ahead and have the right supplies on hand when needed.


Producing a Smooth Finished Turning


One of the marks of a master craftsman is how smooth he can get his finished turnings. The extremely smooth surface is a delight to see, feel and to apply finish. There are several factors that influence how smooth the final surface will be come:

  • Skill of the operator
  • Sharpness of the tool
  • Type of tool
  • Quality of the timber
  • Sanding technique

By improving any of these factors the end result will improve. If you improve all of the factors the results can be quite dramatic.  I was pleased to find that wet cutting and wet sanding worked so well that in some cases you can start sanding at 320 to 400 grit sandpaper if the quality of the wood is good enough.


Tung Oil and other oils that are used for finishing

I think enough of oil finishes, and Tung Oil in particular, to give it a separate article for discussion and comparison. I have used the stuff for years and I will share what I have learned.  Everyone asks me about Tung Oil, but nobody wants to use it because Tung Oil has a reputation for not being a “fast” finish, and not drying during the winter. It does take a lot of time. But, it is a simple and forgiving finish, and when done properly, its beauty is unmatched. Sometimes we try too hard to avoid the slow and simple things in our modern high-tech lives.


Wipe-On Varnishes and Oils



A wipe-on oil with varnish resins is an ideal finish for the woodturner. It is easy to apply, very forgiving, easy to repair, and gives the wood a durable protective film that is not easily damaged by water, food acids, body oils, or solvents. The only negative to using varnish as a wipe-on finish is the time that is required to build a high gloss surface film, and the “blotchy” discoloration that is often associated with oil finishes.


Oils and Varnishes Over Deft

Any of the commercial or home-brew varnishes and oils can be used over Deft. The wiping varnish that I prefer is a home-brew blend.  Many finishers advocate using a thin coat of shellac or commercial sanding sealers to prevent these problems. I prefer to use Deft because it hardens and seals the wood and accents the grain without discoloring the wood or leaving it with the muddy appearance that we get from sealers containing fillers.


Making varnish look like Glass

Making your own oil/varnish blends is a great way to save money. You can buy things like boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits in large gallon jugs, and then purchase the varnish as needed.  I think its better to have a varnish component in the mixture for extra durability, unless you truly want an oil-only finish.

Another advantage to mixing your own home brew is the fact that you will have total control over the finishes properties. Want a more close to the wood look and feel? Add more oil. Want more protection? Add more varnish. Want to make the finish easier to spread around the surface? Add more thinner. The possibilities are endless and you’ll be able to customize the finish to your needs and the needs of the project.


A 'Deft' Finish Applied On the Lathe

This is a true glossy lacquer finish that I use on nearly all of my turnings. It can be used either “as is”, as a wood grain sealer, or as a base for a Tung- varnish- turpentine blend.  Yes, they are all compatible, and everything is available at the local Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe's, etc. The finish is described as being applied while the wood is still in the lathe, but it can also be applied on the bench, but we will have to rub harder and faster.

How to apply a spray lacquer finish



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