Step 5: Apply a Finish
The most gratifying moment comes when you apply the first coat of finish on the newly fumed oak furniture. You can use virtually any finish over the top of ammonia fumed furniture. Two of my favorite methods are blow.
OIL / SHELLAC / WAX FINISH INSTRUCTIONS:
For furniture pieces that won’t get much abuse, I really like using boiled linseed oil with dewaxed shellac, and a wax top coat. Apply the boiled linseed oil liberally until the wood won’t absorb anymore, then wipe the oil off with a clean cotton cloth after letting it sit for 10-15 minutes. Then, after at least one day, apply several coats of thinned dewaxed shellac with a cotton cloth. If the shellac isn’t mostly dry within 30 seconds (after blowing on it), then thin it with more denatured alcohol. This will prevent running and will allow a nice build up of the shellac. This is why it’s a good idea to use a test board that you’ve fumed with your furniture. Lightly sand after the first coat of shellac, then apply a couple more coats of shellac. You really only need to wait for less than a minute between coats of shellac, if it’s been properly thinned. After the final shellac coat has dried for at least an hour, you can then apply a paste wax with 0000 steel wool. Buff it out with a clean cloth within 10 minutes or less. A top coat can be applied over the shellac, before the wax, as long as you use dewaxed shellac, and not normal shellac. A protective top coat won’t stick to waxy shellac very well. Below is a great protective finish.
WIPING VARNISH FINISH RECIPE & INSTRUCTIONS:
This is an easy, lovely, and protective wood finish recipe that is based on a recipe that my friend Will Myers shared with me. I like it because it brings out the figure and gives depth with some oil, but offers protection that a table needs, without getting a plastic look. It’s also pretty easy.
- Mix Natural Danish Oil and Satin Polyurethane in a 50/50 mixture. I like to use a small jam-sized canning jar (8 oz – 12 oz. size).
- Use a lint-free cloth, or old t-shirt scraps to wipe on a first coat. Wait 10-15 minutes, and then wipe off the excess with a clean cloth. Let the first coat dry for three days.
- Lightly sand or scuff between coats with 0000 steel wool, an ultra fine Scotch-Brite pad, or very fine sandpaper. This finish really doesn’t build enough film to need wet sanding, so just lightly dry scuff between coats.
- Repeat the above steps two more times.
- After the last (third) coat has dried for three days, lightly scuff the surface again, and buff with a nice furniture wax. Waiting a week before applying a wax finish is even better so that the finish gets a nice long time to harden. Be sure to follow the can’s instructions because leaving wax on too long before buffing it out can cause you problems. I think 10 minutes is a typical max wait time for buffing.
- Bonus Tip: This finish will thicken up and be unusable after a few weeks, so if you have leftovers, I spray a bit of Bloxygen to preserve it and then close the lid. I also spray this into my danish oil can and polyurethane can (and all my varnishes). Bloxygen is argon gas that displaces the oxygen, which preserves your wood finishes. It has saved me a lot of money in wasted wood finish. It’s especially good to spray in Waterlox, which tends to coagulate more quickly than other finishes I’ve used.
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