Wood Finishing Tips Cards -How To Choose a Finish

This Woodworking Tips Card is called How to Choose a Finish. When you walk into the woodworking store, the wall full of finishing products can be intimidating. Just remember, this is more about marketing than the difficulty of finishing. You really don’t need to know them all, and here is what you do instead:

How to Choose a Finish for Your Project

wood finishing tips cards how to choose a finishMost woodworkers tend to make similar projects at the same time. It’s rare that someone makes an outdoor table, then a pepper mill, then kitchen cabinets, and a play house. Most of the time, a woodworker that likes smaller projects will make smaller projects.

The same goes for woodworkers that make outdoor stuff, or that make furniture. The individual pieces will change over time, but the style tends to be the same.

This is great for learning about wood finishing.

Even though there may be dozens of different wood finishing products to choose from at the woodworking store, don’t be discouraged. Since most of the time you will be making a project of a similar style, you will tend to only need one or two types of wood finish. Not only does this make the process much easier for you, but it also helps you become a better wood finisher. When you practice one finish over and over, you can become very skilled at applying it.

What Finish Should I Use?

The type of finish that you use depends on what you are making. There are more ways to finish than ways mentioned here, but these are a great start. As you learn more about finishing, feel free to try new types.

The first thing to look at is what the project will do during its life. Will it be indoors? Outdoors? Will it be used heavily, or left on a shelf? Does it need to be waterproof, or does it not matter? The answers to these questions are going to help point you in the right direction.

You can also gather information on the piece you are making, and do a quick Google search to see what finish is commonly used. This is a great way to get your initial idea, which you can work into your project as it unfolds.

Finishing Smaller Indoor Projects

I have been making small to medium projects my entire life. Everything from long stem pipes, to acoustic and electric guitars, pens, toys, wooden rings, and hundreds more random single projects. My common theme is smaller, fun items, that bring joy to the user.

The great thing about smaller projects is that you can typically use an oil finish or a wipe on finish. Products like Tru-Oil (full tutorial on Tru-Oil here) and Danish Oil (Tutorial here) are a great place to start. They apply easy, and you can pick the process up really quickly.

Though most smaller projects are finished by hand, you can also use sprays like lacquer. If you spray, it can reduce the time it takes to apply the finish. The skills are different than hand applying a finish, but you can always learn both.

Finishing Larger Indoor Projects

The one drawback to oil finishes for larger pieces is that they take a long time to apply. A huge piece of furniture will take forever to finish with Tru-Oil. Thankfully, there are ways to finish these pieces that are still easy to use.

One of my favorites for larger pieces is a wiping varnish. This is essentially a varnish with a lot of thinner in the mixture. The thinner makes the product stay wet longer. While this sounds like a bad thing, it’s actually meant for the varnish to have time to flatten and smooth out before it dries. It also lets you apply it with a rag by hand.

Another product that you can use is furniture lacquer. Don’t waste your time with the really cheap clear coats that you find in a hardware store. These are not as good as lacquer, and can leave a bad looking surface behind.

Instead, look for a brand like Deft, Mohawk, or Watco. These are more expensive than the bottom shelf lacquers, but you will immediately feel the difference. The finish will look nicer, coat better, and last longer too.

Finishing Outdoor Projects

When you finish something for the great outdoors, you have to consider your climate when deciding on a finish. In colder areas the finish is going to need to have different properties than in warmer areas. I live in the desert, so the sun is the number one enemy to deal with.

Most outdoor finishes have a UV blocker in the mixture. This is only so good, and in an extremely sunny place, it can be next to useless. In Arizona for example, most of these kinds of finishes have to be reapplied every year or two. However, they are still far better than the alternatives.

In a very cold place, or a place that gets a lot of rain, look at the Thompson’s Water Seal or their deck treatments. If the product can hold up on an outdoor deck, then it’s probably fine for your project as well.

Consider the End User When Selecting a Finish

One of the most important considerations when selecting a finish is the end user. If the final user is an adult, with no allergies, then you can use typically anything you like. If the user is a child, then you have to think about what kids do.

Kids eat everything. I know, my tiny boss is getting close to three and he still puts things in his mouth that surprise me. When you are making toys for kids, you need to account for the fact that the finish may be ingested.

There are several products available that look great and are non-toxic. In reality, most finishes are non-toxic when cured, but it never hurts to start with something that’s non-toxic as well. Look for plant based products like raw linseed oil, or mineral oil. Check for allergies first, and always be on the safe side when creating something for a kid.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.

Guitar Making Tip No. 749

Guitar Making Tip Number 749 is about keeping your process from making the job take longer. One way this happens is when you make a mistake. This adds time to the build, and makes the process longer. Here is how you keep your cabinet scraper from making things worse.

Your Cabinet Scraper

guitar making tip number 749Your cabinet scraper can be a huge life saver in your shop, but in the beginning it can be your enemy until you understand it. The most common error is that the edges of the cabinet scraper dig into the surface of the piece, adding more scratches.

The nice thing is that you already have a great tool for removing them in your hands. The bad thing, is that you can add even more just as easily.

When I was first learning¬†How to Use a Cabinet Scraper, I made a lot of mistakes. I was even convinced at one point that the reason we don’t see them much anymore is because sandpaper was invented and it’s better. Thankfully I figured it out and learned how valuable a scraper really is. Here is a nice tip that you can use to ensure your scraper doesn’t betray you too much in the beginning… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 749”

Make and Sell Wooden Rings

It’s fun to make and sell wooden rings, and you can get started for a very low cost. It’s even easier than it looks to make a wooden ring, and if you are looking for a project to make and sell, this might be the one for you. Here is how you can get started.

Making and Selling Wooden Rings

make and sell wooden ringsThe first thing you need to do in order to start making selling wooden rings is to learn how to make them. My book shows the entire process for a beginner, and uses the smallest tool set possible as well.

Being brand new, expect to spend some quality time in the shop learning your skills before you can start successfully selling your wares.

It is possible in the beginning to sell what you make for a reduced price due to you being new to the craft, but don’t plan on it until you see what kind of work you are capable of at first.

If you already know how to make wooden rings, then you are slightly ahead. Knowing how to make them gives you a bit of an advantage, and from there you just need to find customers. Depending on how much exposure you already have, there are options. Read more “Make and Sell Wooden Rings”

Wood Finishing Tips Cards – Use Fresh Product

This Wood Finishing Tips Card is called Use Fresh Product. Woodworkers are notoriously frugal when it comes to their craft. While saving scraps and controlling costs is a very good thing, it can actually cost more money and time when it comes to finishing. Here is why:

Use Fresh Product for Wood Finishing

wood finishing tips cards use fresh productIt’s very important to use fresh product when you are finishing a project. There are many reasons, but the biggest is that you can actually ruin your entire project right near the end if you use a bad can of finish.

Not only does ruining a project cost money, it also costs time and energy. The process of losing a project right near the end is devastating. More so if you had a deadline, or was planning on selling the piece.

In some really bad cases, it can be extremely difficult or impossible to remove the finish. This means starting over, and sometimes it can be really though to muster up the energy to begin again right after failure.

There are a few things that you can do to ensure that your finish is the best it can be. Thankfully, it’s really easy, and you can rest easy knowing that you are not going to ruin your project right near the end… Read more “Wood Finishing Tips Cards – Use Fresh Product”

Printable Woodworking Tips Cards

My Woodworking Tips Cards series has a full 52 cards, which is the same as a regular deck of playing cards. Now, I want to share a printable version that you can use as a teaching tool, and share with others who are interested in learning about woodworking. Here you are:

Printable Woodworking Tips Cards

52 woodworking tips for beginners woodworking tips cardsIt has been a pleasure creating and sharing these woodworking tips cards. The woodworking hobby has been a lifelong passion of mine, and seeing new woodworkers get into the craft is very exciting.

There is a large void of people that are capable of doing things themselves, and woodworking is just one more way of teaching people to be self-reliant. When you can use tools well, you can make or repair nearly anything made from wood.

This ability will also trickle into other tasks that you may not have thought of. It can give you confidence. That can-do spirit will spread to other things, and before you know it the skills you gained from woodworking are helping you tackle completely unrelated projects.

Here is the link to download the free PDF… Read more “Printable Woodworking Tips Cards”

My Favorite Handmade Toy Tool

I made a whole set of toy tools for my son, and even wrote a book about it. They were all a pleasure to make, but there was one that definitely stood out for me. My son loves them all, buy my favorite handmade tool toy is the Dovetail Saw.

My Favorite Handmade Tool Toy

my favorite handmade toy toolThe Dovetail Saw was a last minute idea that came to me when I was working on the set of tools for my book, Wooden Tools for Kids. The tools were easy to make in the beginning, but as time went on, I needed to come up with more ideas.

The Dovetail Saw Toy was one of the final tools that made the book, and it’s full of detail and style. It was important to me to make a toy tool that was very realistic, but also something I was not worried about my son playing with. This saw is a very real looking design, but it also has blunted teeth and is light weight, which makes me feel good about my son playing with it. Read more “My Favorite Handmade Toy Tool”

52 Great Woodworking Tips for Beginners

This is 52 Great Woodworking Tips for Beginners, which is the final article for the Woodworking Tips Cards series that I have been sharing over the last several months. There are 52 in total, just like a deck of cards, and they can help you become a better woodworker in the beginning.

52 Woodworking Tips For Beginners

52 woodworking tips for beginners woodworking tips cardsWoodworking Tips Cards are a great way to learn about woodworking and they are fun and entertaining. They are easy to understand, quick tips for beginning woodworkers.

Most woodworkers make a lot of mistakes in the beginning, which is very normal. One way that you can avoid mistakes is to read tips.

Tips are usually short lessons that come from failure. When you read about the lesson, you give yourself a better chance of not making the same mistake. Learning from tips will not prevent every mistake, and you may still make the same mistake you read about. The point is to get as much knowledge as possible into your head as quickly as you can, so that you can avoid most of the mistakes. Here are the tips… Read more “52 Great Woodworking Tips for Beginners”

Why I Made My Own Wedding Ring

There are several reasons why I made my own wedding ring. The project itself is very special, and the cost savings over buying a traditional ring is well worth your time. I’m glad that I made my ring, and here is how you can do it too:

Why I Made My Own Wedding Ring

why i made my own wedding ringA wedding ring is a very personal item, and I always knew that I wanted to make my ring instead of buy it. Having been a woodworker for a long time, the natural choice was to make it from a piece of wood.

When you wear a wooden ring, you run the risk of breaking it through normal daily activities. For a wedding ring, especially one that you would want to wear all the time, wearing something breakable is not an option.

After a lot of looking around, I decided to use a metal ring inside a wooden exterior. This is the ultimate union of function and looks, and gives you the best of both worlds.

A wood and metal ring allows you to take advantage of the strength of the metal, and ensures that your ring is going to last a lifetime. The wood on the outside lets you show off the beauty as well as the different look of a wooden ring. There are many more reasons I made my own wedding ring, and even if you are new to woodworking, it’s easier to make than you think… Read more “Why I Made My Own Wedding Ring”

New Post Delivery Service

Just a friendly reminder, my new post delivery service is the best way that you can see everything new at Westfarthing Woodworks. I post a lot of great stuff, and it comes out several times a week. Instead of checking constantly, just get the weekly email. It’s easy.

New Post Delivery Service

new post delivery serviceI just looked at my stats for Westfarthing Woodworks, and I’ve passed 450 posts, and well over 300,000 words.

That’s a ton of free woodworking, wood finishing, and guitar making information that can help you become a better woodworker.

I really enjoy woodworking, and I believe that just about anyone who gives it a try can fall in love with it too. Thankfully, I also love writing, and I post about woodworking several times a week.

Woodworking is such a huge topic that it’s easy to come up with things to talk about. There are so many different activities that fall under the woodworking umbrella, that you can live your entire life without getting to experience them all. Here is why joining my new post delivery service will benefit you as a new woodworker: Read more “New Post Delivery Service”

Woodworking Tips and Quick Learning

Woodworking tips are one of the fastest ways to absorb information about woodworking. This quick learning method is a secret to building your woodworking knowledge quickly, and with a whole lot less mistakes than the try/fail/learn method. Here is how you do it:

Woodworking Tips and Quick Learning

woodworking tipsIf you want to learn something quickly, studying tips is a great way to start. Tips are small lessons that another woodworker had to earn through failure.

There is something to be said about learning from your own failures…it stinks. There is also something to be said about learning from the failures of others…it’s much less costly.

When you learn from others, and the mistakes they made, you get the advantage of learning the lesson in a way that is not as damaging.

A lesson can be as simple as buying good wood glue, or as harsh as becoming injured. If you learn this lesson first hand, you gain knowledge. This also happens if you learn the lesson from reading about the mistakes of others. The knowledge still transfers, you just don’t have to go through the damage to attain it. Read more “Woodworking Tips and Quick Learning”