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    Choosing the Right Furniture Finish

    Learn how to choose the best finish for all your woodworking and furniture projects

    StartWoodworking.com use only

    When it comes to building fine furniture, most woodworkers spend tons of time learning how to cut precise, beautiful joinery, while failing to understand the wide variety of finishes available on the market, as well as when and how to use them.

    In this video, Fine Woodworking art director Michael Pekovich and senior web producer Ed Pirnik take the mystery out of a variety of finishes, and outline when and why a craftsman might choose one over the other. From oils and wiping varnishes—to shellac and wax, we've got you covered.

    Furniture Finish Basics

    Minwax Antique Oil Oil Finishes
    A simple oil finish is beautiful, and easy to apply. Just wipe it on, and wipe it off.
    Wiping Varnishes
    A wiping varnish like wipe-on polyurethane or other products like "Waterlox" offer more durability than traditional oil finishes.
    Brush-On Polyurethane
    For the ultimate in protection, consider a brushed-on polyurethane. But be careful: there are subtle color variations between the oil and water-based varieties.
    Relatively easy to apply, and fast-drying, shellac leaves a beautiful finish but it doesn't resist heat and moisture very well. You can also used de-waxed shellac (sold in cans) as a sealer coat.
    The last step in the finishing process is the additiona of a coat of paste wax. Wax offers your projects a beautiful luster and a bit more scratch protection.