What is your go-to Finish

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If you had to only use one finish for the rest of your woodworking life, what would you use, and why?
Finishing ranges from the extremely complex to the very simple, and I’m sure that libraries worth of books and articles have been devoted to finishing and different “recipes”. I suspect though that most of us have a few “go-to” finishes that we use for most projects despite the variety available.
Personally, I’ve tried a wide variety of different finishes but I keep coming back to a few favourites, depending on what wear and tear the project will experience. I use Minwax “tung oil” on a disproportionate number of my projects; I love the warm luster that it gives to the wood, and if the project needs more protection eg. a table, it is easily coated with wipe on poly.
What is your go-to finish?

Rob, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Danish oil! Love that stuff.

Losing fingers since 1969

I guess I use what I think will work best depending on the project ,but many times I will use general finishes dye/stain and a water base top coat.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

General Finishes gel stains and Jeff’s finishing wax. Great stuff.


Linseed oil: Linseed oil : Linseed oil: Tung oil: Tung oil: Total 5 coats. Takes a lot of time but worth it to me.


P.S. Inside only. Outside in Texas: Concrete. The only thing that will stand up the the sun!

Tor and Odin are the greatest of gods.

Anything interior that must be protected I use a water based nitro cellulose called KTM9 for a high gloss that is polish able with a buffer, or as is for a satin look. It cures to an unbelievably hard finish.

CHRIS, Charlottetown PEI Canada. Anytime you can repurpose, reuse, or recycle, everyone wins!

For the things I make these days there is only one go to…….. French polish. It isn’t for every project but in the last few years it has gone on almost everything I have made. Second choice for better durability is hardwax oil. The brand I use in Canada is Saicos.
In the USA I use Fiddes. The stuff is amazing but FP is still my go-to.

The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.

boiled linseed oil , , I like the fact that I can refinish every so often . or polyurethane high gloss.


I love using tung oil!
Or shold I say, a thinner version of a finish
Minwax calls Tung Oil, but actually has
NO tung oil in it!
I like using it though, its thin enough to
penetrate the wood on the first coat, and
is easily buffed to a shine,
Then I top it with Jeff Vanderburgs,
Bees wax and tung oil paste, the stuff is
You end up with a beautiful and water proof finish!!!
If you haven’t tried it Do!
You’ll like it more than your money!!!!
Steve Tow

Steve Tow

Well. I usually use blo thinned with white spirits but lately I’ve been poking around shellac.
I currently have an amazing elm board I’ve made into a “media” shelf (place to sit a sky cable box under a wall hung tv) but I’m panicking. I’ve never used elm before (dreadful, furry stuff) and I don’t want to colour or shade it, it’s so pretty as it is…I don’t know what to do.
I love the elm, btw, amazing colours and a wonderful surface after all the scraping.

but yeah, boiled linseed covers most things…bit of wax on top…

-- Alec (Friends call me Wolf, no idea why)

I’d hate to be tied to one finish, different situations call for different finishes. But i will say I use more oil base alkyd varnish than anything else. Since that’s getting nest to impossible to find (along with all oil based finishes in general) I’ll be switching to a waterborne once my stash is gone.

"I long for the day when coke was a cola and a joint was a bad place to be" Merle Haggartd