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finishing walnut

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  • finishing walnut

    Hi all, and thanks in advance for any advise.

    I am slowly, piece by piece, buidling my 2 yr old a bed room set. Because of the small closet in her room, I am starting off with an amoir. The piece is about 75% done, and am now wondering how to finish it. I took some of the scrap, peruvian walnut, and trying different applications. I tried 3 coats of tung oil, and 3 coats of poly, but seems a little dark.

    I also tried just 3 coats of poly and that seems to be what I am looking for. I forgot to mention that the poly is a semi gloss. I have never used gloss before. If I put gloss over the tung oil, will that make the wood appear a bit lighter? What about a clear shellac.

    I really like the look of the peruvian walnut but didn't realize that finishing it would darken it that much more. Is there an oil out there that won't darken it much?


  • #2

    The general consensus when applying multiple coats of poly is to apply gloss to all but the last coat then switch to the semi-gloss or satin on the last coat, thus preventing clouding of the finish. I’ll shoot you an email that a fellow forum member forwarded me from David Marks on his finishing technique using General Finishes Sealaceel (tung oil/urethane combination) and Arm-R-Seal. I recently followed his directions on a walnut blanket chest and achieved very satisfying results.

    Good luck



    • #3

      I have used General Finishes Seal-a-Cell for a sealer coat and Arm-R-Seal as a topcoat. The sealer is supposed to be clear, it is a mixture of tung oil, linseed oil, and something else I don't remember. I got this info from David Marks website. I have made four or five pieces from Walnut and love the look the semi-gloss gives them. I have tried the Gloss and didn't like the look of it. You may. I'm sure there are plenty of other people who can add to these comments with varied and accurate info. Chose the ones you like best and test them to see which one suits you. Good luck.


      • #4
        I guess Woodslayer beat me to it. I can forward the email to you if you like.


        • #5
          woodslayer and tcaniff, thanks for your response. I will try both recipies this weekend and let you guys know what I descide. sorry for the misspelling.



          • #6
            I have a Walnut coffee table that we bought back in 1968. With the little guy around, the original finish didn't last very long and I refinished the table in 1974 using just Tungoil. the table heldup for years and I just refinished it for the second time last year. The tungoil was easy to remove without damaging or heavy sanding (the top is veneered, so I'm not sure how much sanding that would take).

            Once the old finish was off, I applied an "old english walnut" oil stain (browner looking than the reddish "American walnut") and rubbed it out until I got the shade I was looking for. Then I sprayed clear gloss polyurethane. Three coats, thinned to about 80% poly. The finish is really great, but I don't think it is as good as lacquer, which is what I would have preferred to use. Problem was I couldn't find it anywhere in my area.

            Overall, polly is pretty good, but I don't think it is as longlasting as lacquer (if you can find it) or as easily fixed if you have future damage like scratches. Considering the age of your daughter, I would think that this piece will be around a long time and will be fondly remembered always. I'd go with the lacquer finish as it is very durable and easy to refinish in the future. Poly is basically just a plastic coat and, IMHO, overtime will be effected by heat and cold and general wear and may prove to be harder to refinish in ten or twenty years.



            • #7
              Since we're on the subject of Walnut and finishes, I really liked the look that Norm got when he used Danish Oil with the walnut tint. Does the Danish oil work well? what can be applied over it? or do I need anything over it?

              Also, I was not aware that you could put a finish over Tung Oil. I made the desktop weather station that was in the Wood magazine out of bubings and finished it with Tung oil. It came out great, but I would really like a real high gloss on it.


              • #8
                Just to add my 2 cents.... I just built a couple of small shelves from walnut and got a beautiful finish using Minwax's hand rubbed Poly, (satin sheen). It really highlighted the grain and the finish is very soft and natural. Also, it didn't darken the already dark wood....