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Thread: Question on finishing some Oak bookcases

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Question on finishing some Oak bookcases

    Hi all,

    I've got a pretty good size job lined up that I'm getting ready to start shortly. My next door neighbor just had some oak bookcases built and had the fireplace paneled and trimmed in oak. They're all solid oak shelves and trim and the cases are oak ply. They're 99" tall (the room has a cathedral ceiling) and they run the entire length of the room and even turn the corner.

    They're raw now and they want me to do the finish work. I had four or five colors of Minwax on hand so I made them up some samples out of scrap from the job. On the samples I just used the Minwax stain and allowed it to dry. I then just put on a light coat of Tung Oil and let it sit for about 10 minutes and then wiped it down. After that was dry I just put on a light coat of Minwax finishing wax. It gives the wood a very nice looking finish and they're happy with it. This will be MUCH easier than having to put on several coats of clear satin Deft which is what they originally wanted. About a year ago I put on several coats of Deft on the custom oak banister that they had built and it came out very nice. They figured they wanted it to look the same. But IMO I don't think bookcases and the entertainment center need this much of a finish on them. Do you think the stain, Tung oil, wax would be a sufficient treatment for a project like this. It will still be a LOT of work and should look beautiful when done but it will be much easier than the Deft option.

    Thanks for any input!

    John
    Last edited by John Pollman; 12-13-2006 at 10:12 PM.
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  2. #2
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    The few times I have finished oak I have used tung oil with a coat or two of poly. Amber shellac also looks really nice on oak.

  3. #3
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    Al,
    I tried the shellac thing too. It's the other option that I gave them other than the Tung Oil. I took some three pound cut amber shellac and thinned it 3:2 shellac to DA and applied a light coat after the stain was dry. When that was dry I hit it with a little fine steel wool and then wiped it down and applied the was. It looks about the same as the Tung Oil. I'm still considering this option over the Tung Oil because the shellac will dry quickly and be a little easier I think.

    I'm in the process now of doing up a much larger sample of the color they've selected. (Red Oak #215) If they like the looks of this large sample I'll get going in the next few days. I'll post some pics when done. It's going to be beautiful!

    John
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  4. #4
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    Can't wait to see the finished project it sounds nice. Good luck on it.

  5. #5
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    Explain your reasoning for want one over the other. Then quote a (much) higher price for the difficult to apply finish. Whichever they choose, you will be the winner and they will be happy.

  6. #6
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    Well I thought that I'd be done by now but it just didn't work out that way. I've given them at least six different color samples and treated each of those with both the shellac/wax on one side and the tung oil/wax on the other. Just as I was about to start they decided that the color they had selected may have been a little too dark. OK back to the drawing board. I gave them a couple more to consider and after several days they still couldn't make up their minds. I went over there the other night after dropping off the last sample and basically told them that I really need a FIRM decision before I start. I wasn't rushing them and told them that I'd rather they take a few days and look at the samples in daylight and by artificial light in the evening to get a feel for what the entire project will be like in the color they've selected. This is probably going to be close to $10K by the time they're done paying for the material, fabrication, and finishing. So with that kind of money on the line I want to make sure that they're happy with the color. They're going out of town from Christmas thru New Years and I just got word that they've finally made a decision. Guess what? It's the color they chose over a week ago! Oh well, the good part is that we're going to go with the stain, tung, wax finish. It's still a HUGE amount of area to cover but should be fairly straight forward and easy to do. I already told them to expect at least 20-25 hours in labor. (I just hope I'm not way short on that estimate )

    I'll post pics when it's done.

    Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

    John
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  7. #7
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    Hi again. I just thought I'd give you an update on the project. I ended up having another job to do before I could get started on this finishing project but it worked out well because my clients were going to be out of town from Christmas until New Years Eve anyway. So I told them that it would be good idea for me to just do it while they were away. That way they can avoid the smell of all the stain and Tung oil. I had a LONG day on Wed. doing the staining. I figured that it would take me about 6-7 hours but I was there for ten. I let it set for a day before attempting to put on the Tung Oil. I finished up the oil treatment today and it looks like I'm going to spend probably another 5-6 hours tomorrow waxing it all. I'm a bit concerned that it may be a little dark for their liking but it's very close to the large sample that I gave them. I'm pretty sure that it's going to be fine. At first they both kept saying "We want it to be light" but then started leaning toward darker. Well they got darker for sure. I'm going to have about 24 solid hours into this portion of the project and the entertainment center is currently being built. I'm guessing at least another 6-8 hours of finishing when that's done and fitted.

    It's looking beautiful so far though. I'll post pics soon!

    Take care,

    John
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  8. #8
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    We'll be waiting...
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  9. #9
    Steve Clardy Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    We'll be waiting...

    Yes

  10. #10
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    Good news!

    I finished up this phase of the project today in a little less time than I thought it would take me. It's coming out very nice. Once the entertainment center is finished and installed I'll take some pics and post them. Boy I tell ya there is a LOT of surface area when you're talking wall to wall book cases!
    Overall there are five book cases (38 shelves total), the entertainment center, and the fireplace is paneled and trimmed in solid oak.

    Happy New Year to all of you!

    John
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

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