Before and after photo of a mantle being finished

Selecting And Applying Finishes To Wood 

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Selecting and applying finishes to wood is an essential skill that can truly enhance the natural beauty of your handmade creations from Mountain Dog Millworks. Here’s a tutorial on how to choose and apply finishes that will bring out the best in your locally harvested timber:

Selecting the Right Finish:

  • Understand Your Wood: Different types of wood have unique characteristics and grain patterns. Consider the species, color, and grain structure of the wood you’re working with. A finish should complement these features rather than mask them.
  • Oil-Based Finishes: Oil-based finishes like linseed oil or tung oil penetrate the wood fibers, enhancing its color and grain while providing a protective layer. They are great for achieving a warm, natural look.
  • Water-Based Finishes: Water-based finishes like water-based polyurethane are low in toxicity and provide a clear finish that doesn’t alter the wood’s color as much. They are ideal for lighter woods and contemporary designs.
  • Varnish: Varnishes offer excellent protection and durability. They come in various sheens, from matte to glossy. Choose a varnish with UV protection if your creations will be exposed to sunlight.
  • Lacquer: Lacquers provide a smooth, high-gloss finish and are often used in furniture and cabinetry. They dry quickly and can be sprayed for an even coat.
  • Wax: Wax finishes provide a soft, low-luster sheen. They are easy to apply and maintain but might require more frequent reapplication.
  • Stains: Stains add color while allowing the wood’s natural grain to show through. They come in a variety of shades and can be used alone or followed by a clear finish.

Applying the Finish:

  • Prepare the Wood: Sand the wood thoroughly to remove any imperfections or roughness. Start with a coarse grit and work your way to finer grits for a smooth surface.
  • Test the Finish: Before applying the finish to your entire piece, test it on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure it produces the desired result.
  • Apply Evenly: Use a clean brush, cloth, or applicator pad to apply the finish in thin, even coats. Follow the wood’s grain to prevent streaks and bubbles.
  • Sand Between Coats: For a smoother finish, lightly sand the surface between coats with a fine grit sandpaper. This helps the subsequent coats adhere better.
  • Number of Coats: The number of coats depends on the finish and your desired level of protection. Typically, 2-3 coats are sufficient. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Curing Time: Allow each coat to dry thoroughly as per the manufacturer’s instructions before applying the next coat. This prevents smudging and ensures a durable finish.
  • Final Finish: For added protection, consider a final topcoat. This can be a clear varnish, lacquer, or wax, depending on the finish you’ve chosen.

Remember, each finish has its unique characteristics, so feel free to experiment on scrap pieces to find the perfect finish for your specific designs. Your commitment to using responsibly harvested wood from your mountain estate will undoubtedly shine through with the right finish, showcasing the natural beauty of the timber in each of your custom creations.

Have Any Questions?
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Call us at 661-972-9095
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