Fast Easy Finish

These gel finishes couldn't be easier to use.

These gel finishes couldn’t be easier to use.

Too many woodworkers lack the basic skills to produce a fine finish on their projects. They spend weeks pouring over drawings, making cutlists, selecting lumber, and all the other things that go into building a project. And after weeks, maybe even months of preparation and work they try to apply a finish in a weekend. They wipe on a couple of coats of “oil” finish and call the project done. If you fall into this group of woodworkers then read on.

If you want to be a good wood finisher you need to put some effort into it. Use some of that time you spend pouring over the books, magazines, and the internet sites studying the latest tools, materials, and techniques to study wood finishing. Learn about the different finishes that are readily available and how  and where they can best be used. While you are on your way to becoming an accomplished wood finisher here is a quick, easy finish that will make your projects look great.

If you wish to stain your project try a good quality gel stain. I can recommend General Finishes. Their product line is extensive and the quality is professional grade, and they are readily available. When choosing a stain don’t pay the names of the various colors any mind. All that matters is that you get a color that you like. If the color is called Pennsylvania Cherry and you like the way it looks on your pine bookshelf by all means use it. Gel stains are very easy to use. Simply apply the stain with a clean, lint free cloth. Wipe it on a little heavy and allow it to start setting up. Then wipe off the excess with a clean cloth. They dry slowly giving you plenty of time to manipulate them to blend areas of light and dark woods and to control the final color. If you get things a bit too dark remove some stain with a rag dampened with mineral sprits. If you want your project darker let the first coat of stain dry over night and apply a second coat the next day. It is almost impossible to ruin a project using gel stains.

When your stain is dry you will want a good quality, durable top coat. To continue with the fast and easy I recommend a gel varnish. Here again General Finishes comes to the head. They have a satin urethane gel varnish that is as easy to apply as the gel stain and gives you the durability of urethane without the “plastic” look. Wipe on 3 light coats. Let each coat dry over night and lightly scuff with a maroon non-woven abrasive pad or 0000 steel wool before each coat. Let the final coat dry for 3-4 days and apply a coat of paste wax. I like to apply the first coat of wax using 0000 steel wool. After buffing apply a second very light coat with a rag and buff.

Try this finish. It is fast, easy, and almost foolproof. You will be proud of your project and your finish. Let us all know how this finish works for you.

As always thanks for stopping by and please feel free to leave a comment.


Professional furniture maker and restorer. Dealer and collector of vintage and antique woodworking tools.
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2 Responses to Fast Easy Finish

  1. Josh says:

    Couldn’t agree more – great tips! You should consider making a video of the process. Thanks!

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