Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 13

Thread: Easy Beginner Finishing Advice Needed

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Vancouver Island, Courtenay/Comox Valley, British Columbia

    Easy Beginner Finishing Advice Needed

    Morning All,

    I'm going to start testing some finishes for these Ash bookcases because my guess is it will take a while before I find what I like. I want them light colored because there are so many of them in the room. I'll post photos of the different tests so you can tell me what you like the best.

    My question is, aside from stain or no stain, what do you recommend for *after* the stain. I need something dead easy as in a monkey with some good light could do it. This is for someone who has never finished ANYTHING. And whatever you suggest, please explain it in little words, from start to finish. Application? tell me what to use to apply it and how much to apply. Sanding? Tell me how much and what grit. Drying? tell me how long....

    Looking forward to advice,
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    For a nice amber toned finish on Ash, I like to use a 'honey oak' stain, and follow that up with a coat of dewaxed shellac (Zinnzer SealCoat®). If there's minimal wear to be considered, I just put on a few more coats of shellac, and then wax it.

    If durability/wear&tear is a consideration, then maybe a couple coats of General Finishes "Arm-R-Seal®'. It's a wipe on poly fortified varnish, and it's very durable.
    Jim D.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Ash is a very "yellow" wood. I tried some mission dye with a fair amount of blue in it; the ash turned green. I did well with a combination of brown and reddish brown dye top coated with a clear shellac. When dealing with ash I can only say (as usual but even more-so) test board, test board, test board, test board . . . .

    Follow your sanding / surface prep protocol exactly on your test boards and the result will be very predictable. Don't get lazy and think your test boards are "close enough". The color variation available in ash can be a little surprising. Just follow the same scraping, sanding, whatever steps on your test pieces that you did or plan to do on your final parts.

    Have fun ;-)
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    I think you will find for a beginner that Zar stain will be the most forgiving to use. It unlike others is easy to go back and touch up with out spotting. (Spotting is when you see that you have missed a spot and need to go back and fix it) With minwax and other thin stains if you go back to fix it the area around the spot will adsorb more stain and darken leaving the missed spot a shade or two lighter.
    Paint it on with a brush or roller and wipe it off. Don't let it sit to long and do things in sections. Don't try and stain the whole cabinet than wipe it down where you started will be dry and hard to wipe off.
    Once you have the whole thing stained let it dry for at least 24 hours. Than easy top coat would be wipe on polyurethane. You wet a rag with it and wipe it on you can do as many coats of this as you like. Sanding lightly with 220 grit in between. Spray polly would be rather easy also if you have used a rattle can before. But it would take a lot of rattle cans of polly to do your project.
    It could be worse You could be on fire.
    Stupid hurts.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Quote Originally Posted by Cynthia White View Post
    ... Application? tell me what to use to apply it and how much to apply. Sanding? Tell me how much and what grit. Drying? tell me how long...
    The stain application will vary with different brands. The instructions on the can are usually a good starting point. Depending on the shade you want the finished project to be, you may find an application of an oil finish (like boiled linseed oil or tung oil) may produce the color you want without having to use a stain at all. This is a good reason to try new techniques and materials on smaller "practice" projects before diving into the big ones.

    The sanding schedule is dependent on the condition of the wood you're starting with, but in very general terms, you sand with one grit until you have uniform scratch marks at that grit, then you move to a finer grit until those scratches are uniform, then a finer grit, etc. Eventually the scratches become too fine to see without magnification. A common sequence would be something like 120 grit, 220 grit, 320 grit, and 400 grit. (My turned pieces typically go through 80, 120, 180, 220, 320, 400, and 600 grits. Sometimes I'll add 800, 1200, and 1500 grit if I'm looking for an exceptionally smooth surface.) Again, a small project (paper towel holder, recipe box, tea tray, lap desk, or a small bookshelf like Glenn's recent piece) can really help you get a feel for the how sanding progresses, and how fine "fine enough" is for your tastes.

    Drying time is going vary from one finishing product to another, as well as the temperature and humidity it's drying in. Here again, the can the finish comes in will usually have workable guidelines. BTW, I'd recommend one of the wipe-on finishes, especially for a beginner. The Arm-R-Seal Jim mentioned is good. Minwax Wipe-On Poly is also easy to get good results with. Finishes like Minwax Antique Oil (and I believe Arm-R-Seal) are a blend of oil and varnish/poly that soak into the wood to darken it a bit, as well as adding a protective film covering to the outside of the wood.

    Finishing is one of those tasks that no amount of written words can fully describe. There's no substitute for hands-on experience.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  6. #6
    IMHO you can't get any easier than Wipe-on Poly. Wipe on and leave it alone. Poly goes through several appearances in it's curing. Wipe on a wet application, then you notice a rough surface and then the normal thought is to rewipe that area (don't) it is a common offgassing or the finish, these tiny bubbles will burst and float out to a nice gloss if you leave them alone. Rewiping only traps them under a new coat.

    Simply said, wipe on and leave alone.

    Back in the day, with the kids and the short class periods we used Deft as a quick simple finish, easy to brush or spray and dries quickly. And the Aroma is to "Die For" (Literally)

    Either one of these finishes require extra effort to screw it up.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Decatur, Alabama
    Another vote for wipe on poly for an easy finish. I've used the minwax wipe on poly from home stores with no problems.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    I use a number of finishes in my restoration business but like others have said the wipe on Poly is almost fool proof. When I did the recent commission since LOML was helping with the finishing I elected to use nothing more then Boiled Linseed oil (BLO), to pop the grain and seal the wood followed by multiple coats of wipe on poly. sanded to 320 between coats. The finish came out as smooth as a baby's butt as my wife described it. You can use stains, I find that dye are better since it is easier to adjust the amount of color they add to the piece and they don't care leave splotchy (don't know if I can use that word here).
    Last edited by Don Baer; 11-11-2010 at 03:23 AM.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    falcon heights, minnesota
    this is my first go round with ash. the finish is blo, with several coats of clear shellac, finished with johnson's paste wax.
    benedictione omnes bene

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Outside the beltway
    if you want realy
    I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious.
    ::: Andrew Wyeth :::

Similar Threads

  1. Emergency Box Finishing Advice Needed
    By Cynthia White in forum Finishing School
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 03-29-2011, 11:38 PM
  2. Advice needed
    By Rob Keeble in forum General Woodworking Q&A
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 10-19-2010, 05:07 PM
  3. Advice needed
    By Rob Keeble in forum Neander Tool Questions and Show & Tell
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 03-15-2010, 02:39 PM
  4. OK, now what! (Veenering/finishing advice please)
    By Jeff Bergman in forum General Woodworking Q&A
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 02-10-2010, 06:27 PM
  5. Easy / Beginner Plans
    By Anthony Scott in forum General Woodworking Q&A
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 12-03-2008, 07:40 PM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts