Picking Clear Coat Finishes

Danish oil-

is a blend of oils and phenolic resin. The oil and resin are rubbed deep into the wood where the it hardens and seals the wood without leaving a surface coat. This is the finish you find on Danish furniture. It produces a warm natural hand rubbed finish that will not crack chip or peel. Additional coats are easy to apply and can be done by the DIY person. Danish natural satin or dark satin wax can be applied for extra protection.

Tung & teak Oil-

Tung or Teak oil mixed with mineral spirits or citrus solvent catalyzes into a durable finish. Teak oil is used to penetrate into hard oily woods such as teak, zebra wood & rosewood. Several coats are rubbed into the wood with sandpaper, which heats the wood up and creates better penetration. This natural looking finish is easy to repair and maintain and looks great on many wood species. It is not great on doors and windows and furniture that see’s much sun or weather. If it does it needs to be coated 2-3 times a year. Remember its just a rub on rub off finish so it can be done by you or help. 

Linseed oil-

Is derived from the flax plant, it ambers with age and doesn’t take water at all. It is a finish I wet sand into wood and gives a matte look. It is great on interior woodwork – doors and windows and furniture that gets no sun. 


This finish is great on high traffic abused places that see and feel weather. Think a boat. A good but costly finish for uv protection. It is highly durable and more resistant to heat and alcohol then shellac. This finish is what you see on yachts and has a high gloss look. This finish needs to be maintained yearly or bi yearly. It is a great finish for outside furniture, garage doors, doors and windows and some furniture. This is the finish for you if you are good at maintenance scheduling. Once the finish is on it just needs to be maintained with a yearly coating that is kin to a spring cleaning. A typical entrance door would need to be sanded down with 320 grit, vacuumed and cleaned and coated- costly about $350 yearly or bi yearly. 


 I do not use these finishes as they just seal the wood behind a sheet of plastic. They do not penetrate into the wood so there attachment to the wood is lacking and will create problems with peeling, cracking later on down the road. Often found on Wooden doors. This is a problem due to the fact that quality doors are made to move with the weather or conditions of the room. Polyurethanes are sheets of plastic that tear apart at the joints and cost far to much to strip off. In fact when they fail they have to be stripped and this coats to much. 

Shellac-French polish- 

Shellac is produced from the secretions of the lac insect. Shellac provides  great protection from humidity and abrasion but does not stand up well to water, alcohol and heat. This is the most elegant finish that can be done by hand. It is time consuming and costly. It creates a piece with great clarity and depth. This finish consists of rubbing many layers of shellac and alcohol into the wood with pumice or volcanic glass. I do not do this finish as it is costly and takes years to master. $$$$$



Published by Dana Carini

Sailing thru water. restoring and refinishing wooden boats and homes. Handcrafting a collection of last a lifetime- inheritable objects. ( worldsendny) Inspiration comes from the places we sail, the people we meet and the history of long ago.

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