The only finish woodworkers need

Disclaimer: Obsessed Woodworking is reader-supported. I may receive a small commission if you purchase anything through my site.

In “The Best Wood Finish You’ve Never Heard Of,” Jon from Lincoln St. Woodworks embarks on a comprehensive exploration of wood finishes, aiming to demystify one of the most perplexing topics for woodworkers.

He provides side-by-side comparisons of 12 popular products, categorizing them into varnishes, natural oils, and hard wax oils, to determine if there’s a perfect finish for every woodworking project.

Jon begins by clarifying that varnish is a broad category of finishes that create a protective layer over wood, often referred to as a film finish. He explains that polyurethane, a common choice among woodworkers, comes in both oil-based and water-based varieties, each with its own set of characteristics.

Oil-based polyurethanes enhance the wood’s color with an amber tone, while water-based polys offer a clearer finish with less tinting.

He also discusses the ease of application and the differences in drying times between oil and water-based finishes, noting that water-based varnishes can be more challenging to apply due to their lack of penetration compared to oil-based options.

Jon highlights General Finishes Arm-R-Seal as a high-quality wiping varnish that’s easy to apply and difficult to mess up, contrasting it with water-based finishes that require more attention to achieve a good result.

Moving on to natural oils, Jon explains their appeal lies in the organic and aesthetically pleasing finish they provide, penetrating the wood rather than forming a surface film.

He compares tung oil and boiled linseed oil (BLO), noting tung oil’s longer drying time but better water resistance and BLO’s tendency to darken over time.

Jon introduces hard wax oils, a category that has gained popularity for its balance of natural appearance and protective qualities. He mentions products like Rubio Monocoat and Osmo, which combine oil and wax for a durable finish that’s easy to apply and repair.

Throughout the video, Jon emphasizes the importance of choosing the right finish based on the project’s needs, considering factors like durability, appearance, and ease of application.

He concludes that while there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, understanding the properties of each type of finish can help woodworkers make informed decisions for their projects.

Please leave a comment to join the discussion