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Thread: Mahogany Headboard

  1. #1

    Mahogany Headboard

    Hi everyone,

    I made a headboard from Philippine Mahogany stock, and i've done a pretty good job so far considering that this is my first time dabbling in carpentry.

    I did the pre-staining conditioning and then stained it using an oil-based stain (minwax).

    I was hoping someone could help me with the finish. It's obviously not going to get heavy use but I do want a finish that is durable so the piece lasts a long time, but also looks good. Something good, durable and easy to use. (not to be too demanding haha)

    I'm afraid of using polyurethane because since i don't have a "workshop" it gets a little dusty and i don't want to ruin all the work i've done so far.

    I've been doing some reading and found some comments saying that i shouldn't use oil finishings since i used the oil-based stain.

    Anyway, any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Welcome to the forum, Pablo.

    You have a lot of finish options. For something like a headboard, I'd be inclined to use some type of spray lacquer, but I'm guessing as a relatively new woodworker, you don't have spray equipment. I finish a lot of my turned wood pieces with lacquer out of a spray can, and I'd think with care, spray cans could do a headboard as well. One of the advantages to lacquer is that it's fast-drying, so it has less chance to get dust nibs. With enough coats built up, you can get a very durable finish, and with some buffing get a very high gloss (if that's what's wanted). Lacquer also does a great satin finish if you're not interested in the glossy look. Another advantage to lacquer is that it is "repairable", in that new lacquer will melt old lacquer, and the two bond into a single film. If something gets scratched in the future, it can usually be touched up without having to refinish the whole piece.

    Another option, even though you're a bit reluctant, is a wipe-on poly. It's a pretty foolproof finish, and also very durable. A lot of guys get good results with wipe-on poly (or blends of poly and oil, like Sam Maloof used so successfully). The dust nibs shouldn't be a big problem...they'll rub out with the right abrasives and some elbow grease. Like lacquer, you can control the glossiness of poly with how you rub out the final finish.

    A third choice would be one of the wipe-on oil/varnish blends like Minwax Antique Oil or Formby's Tung Oil Finish. Both of these products can be used over stain (as can lacquer and poly). With two or three coats, these finishes will produce a nice "hand rubbed" look. Build up even more coats, and you can get a high gloss. The oil/varnish blends do tend to darken the wood more than lacquer or poly, and they're not as durable, either. But they are real easy to apply.

    I'm sure some of the finishing experts here will chime in with better advice, but those are my first thoughts on the question.

    By the way, we like photos here. A lot. In fact, you're lucky you haven't been pulled over by the Picture Police yet. Must be because it's the weekend and they're all asleep. We'd love to see the headboard.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  3. #3
    Thank you very much Vaughn. That was very helpful. It's good to know that if I went with the wipe-on poly i could take away the dust nibs. I'll also see what the other experts say before i head to the store tomorrow.

    I'll attach some pics.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    new york city burbs
    if you cant spray, Id go with waterlox original, brush on 3 coats, then one coat of waterlox satin or gloss, depending on what you like.
    do both front and back evenly.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    well yu have got some great advice,, from others and i am here to say that i spray most everything now days but i started out with wipe on poly and its easy to use and the dust isnt a comes off easily with a 320 sponge..and the last coat can be buffed with a normal brown paper bag,, allen mentioned the waterlox original and i have used that as well and it too is good finish.. so is shellac it drys fast but isnt quite as durable as the poly or the waterlox.. but easily repairable.. so if yu go to your local big store and this is your first time in the major finish project,, dont be fearful of wipe on poly.. use a old tshirt and have fun watching the nice grain pop right out at yu like the inserts as well yu have in this head board
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Vancouver Island, Courtenay/Comox Valley, British Columbia
    Hi Pablo:

    Welcome to the forum. That's a beautiful headboard. If that's your first project, I'd say you have an illustrious woodworking career ahead of you.
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  7. #7
    Thank you to everyone. Based on the great advice i've gotten I think I'll go with either the wipe-on poly or the waterlox. I like the idea of shellac but if it isn't as durable, i think that it might not be the best choice. I guess i'm also at the mercy of whatever they have at home depot haha.

    Thank you Cynthia , it's been a fun project and interesting since i've just been learning as I go but i'm very happy with the results. I realized it would've been easier with a good place to work and all the right tools. I built it on the kitchen counter and the sanding/staining out in the balcony haha. I think as I get older and have my old place it'll become a good hobby to complement work.

    I really appreciate all the work. I will post pictures of the progress (after the finishing stage and then finally after i'm done with the back-lighting)

    Off to home depot

  8. #8
    based on the very limited options at home depot I had to get WB wipe on poly. I applied the first coat.

    I just have a couple of questions...
    1) how long does it take to dry. It says 2-3 hours, but it seems to me like it's drying much faster.
    2) It says to sand between coats. Is it necessary? recommended?

    Thank you,


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    never used water base wipe on poly but oin the oil base stuff ,,yes yu need to touch sand with say 320 grit sponge or just paper.. just take off the nibs and not to deep the idea is to build light coats..
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  10. #10
    Ok. I will do some light sanding between coats. I like the way it's looking so far though.
    Thank you

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