Finishing Made Easy

Finishing Made Easy

Thinking about applying a hand rubbed finish to your timber product? Here’s a run down on some of the more common and easy to apply versions of the ‘hand rubbed’ genre. Yes, I’ve left out wax… its not a real finish.


Oil – Danish Oil

Handing rubbing is suitable for finishes with a thin viscosity, allowing the liquid to be applied thinly, rubbed in and buffed off. This process of application leaves little to no streaking and multiple thin coats can be applied in quick succession, to build up the layer of protection.

Danish oil is a perfect example of an easy to apply, attractive ‘natural’ low sheen finish which is made to be absorbed into the pores of timber, protecting, nourishing and ‘feeding’ the wood from the inside.

The benefit of thin finishes, like Danish Oil, is that when it is applied to the timber, which is a porous substrate, it is given the opportunity to soak in which creates a layer of resistance beyond the upper most surface.

Danish Oil has varying ingredients. It can be made up of many different mixtures of natural and synthetic varnish and resins; mineral oil, tung oil, linseed oil, poppy oil, cotton oil, sunflower oil, white spirit, naptha, driers, anti-skin agents, etc etc!


Polyurethane – Wipe on Poly

A ‘Wipe on Poly’ solution has similar attributes to Danish Oil, easy to apply, thin/absorbent and provides a generally ‘natural’ looking satin finish. The make-up of the finish is very different and is essentially a plastic in the form of a liquid, until it dries.

Many wood workers consider polyurethane finishes to be the easiest to apply and one of the most durable of all types of wood finish. ‘Wipe on Poly’ which is a diluted version of regular polyurethane finish, is thinned with Mineral Spirits to make the application even easier. The only draw back of thinning your polyurethane means that, in order to achieve a similar durability to standard polyurethane, you need to build up many, many thin layers.


Hard wax oil – Osmo

‘Hard Wax Oil’ is a modern finish and it has developed real traction in the last few years, becoming a popular staple in most commercial and hobbyist workshops.

You’re now familiar with oils, such as Danish Oil, often associated with furniture, which you rub in to the surface of the wood and the oil soaks in. Waxes are very similar in that the application is rubbed into the surface and buffed away.

Hardwax Oil is an oil based finish that soaks in, lightly colors the wood and forms a protective film on the surface of the wood. The application is much the same as Danish Oil and ‘Wipe on Poly’, however it is much more durable. In fact, it is so durable that it was originally designed for and is still used as a sealer for wood floorboards and subsequently adopted by furniture makers and craftsmen.



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