A good finish is as important to a furniture project as its construction. You’d be surprised how much trouble that statement has gotten me into over the last few years, but it happens to be true. The first reaction I get to it is, “Not every project needs a finish,” and that’s also absolutely true — however, that particular statement is often the battle cry of the lazy.
Before anyone works up too much righteous indignation, let me point out that you don’t have to go any further than pictures of my own home shop to prove I don’t stain everything. Of course you don’t apply finish in places where it doesn’t matter, like out in the shop, or if you’re going for the “old country kitchen” look. But there’s only so much Ma and Pa Kettle to go around — most other projects wind up looking and performing better with some sort of finish, like stain, paint, or poly.
Take reader Beano_t, for instance: His treasure chest looked good before, but after finishing it looks great. Most projects are this way. It doesn’t have to be incredibly fancy, and you don’t have to mix your own colors to stain properly either. If you take the time to investigate, you’ll find plenty of stains and sealers out there that can provide a beautiful top coat — there are enough choices to suit anyone’s take on good-looking.
From Tung oil to gel stains, if you take just a little time and care, your project goes from nice to something people fight over when you’re done. Don’t buy into the hype of “naked furniture is better.” Naked furniture isn’t done yet — that’s why they call it naked. Even if you’re not into the whole finish thing and you think wood looks better natural, a bit of oil or a coat of some kind of sealer will protect that fresh-grained look a lot longer than nothing.
I’m not speaking from on high as some sort of stain wizard either. I’m actually not very good at it, and I hate taking the extra time to lay on coats of anything. The only reason I bother is that Danish oil and a few coats of poly followed by wax makes my rather ordinary projects look like I bought them from a store — and that’s a huge jump from what they look like beforehand.
To sum up that whole rant: It’s often a good idea to finish out your furniture projects. It’s a giant pain in the backside, but you get out what you put in.
Many thanks to Beano_t for the beautiful Treasure Chest pics.
Toolmonger Photo Pool [Flickr]