Click Image to enlargeWood finishing refers to the process of embellishing and/or protecting the surface. The process starts with surface preparation, either by sanding by hand using a sanding block or power sander, scraping, or planning. Imperfections or nail holes on the surface may be filled using wood putty or wood filler.

Once the wood surface is prepared and stained, a number of coats of finish may be applied, often sanding between coats.

Commonly used wood finishes include:

  • wax,
  • shellac,
  • drying oils (such as linseed oil or tung oil),
  • lacquer,
  • varnish, or
  • paint.

Find out what the experts at ronseal have to say on the correct way to varnish. You can also watch some “how to guides” showing tips and advice you will ever need.

Other finishes called “oil finish” or “Danish Oil” are actually thin varnishes with a relatively large amount of oil and solvent.
Water-based finishes can cause what is called “raising the grain” where surface fuzz emerges and requires sanding down.

Finally the surface may be polished or buffed using steel wool, pumice, rottenstone and other polishing or rubbing compounds depending on the shine desired. Often, a final coat of wax can be applied over the finish to add a slight amount of protection.

French polishing is not polishing as such, but a method of applying many thin coats of shellac using a rubbing pad, yielding a very fine glossy finish.

Different tools used to apply wood finishes include rags, rubbing pads, brushes, and spray guns.

There are two reasons for using varnish:

  • To give protection, and
  • To give an attractive finish.
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