I've created a pretty flexible finishing system I can adapt to achieve a variety of finishes. Here are a few examples. 


  • Sanding to 220
  • Color on the walnut, not on the ash
  • Shellac x 2 coats
  • 320 sanding
  • Wipe on poly
  • 320 sanding
  • Wipe on poly
  • 320 sanding
  • Steel wool and wax

  • Sanding to 220
  • Color 
  • Shellac x 2 coats
  • 320 sanding
  • Glaze (Adds depth and darkness to angles and corners)
  • Shellac
  • 320 sanding
  • Wipe on poly
  • 320 sanding
  • Wipe on poly
  • 320 sanding
  • Steel wool and wax

  • Sanding to 220
  • Gel Stain Color
  • Shellac x 2 coats
  • 320 sanding
  • Shellac (building depth)
  • 320 sanding
  • Wipe on poly
  • 320 sanding
  • Wipe on poly
  • 400, 600 sanding
  • Pumice and Rotten Stone applied with a felt block (rubbing out the finish).
  • Wax
  • Steel wool and wax

  • Sanding to 150
  • Light distressing
  • Wire brushing (brings out texture)
  • Sanding to 220
  • Color (Varathane Kona here)
  • Highlighting (sand edges here and there to remove color).
  • Shellac x 2
  • 320 sanding
  • Glaze (Adds depth and darkness to angles and corners).
  • Shellac
  • 320 sand
  • Wipe on poly
  • 320 sanding
  • Wipe on poly
  • 320 sanding
  • Steel wool and wax

  • Sanding to 150
  • Heavy distressing
  • Sanding to 220
  • Color 
  • Highlighting (sand edges here and there to remove color).
  • Shellac x 2
  • 320 sanding
  • Glaze (Adds depth and darkness to angles and corners).
  • Shellac
  • 320 sand
  • Wipe on poly
  • 320 sanding
  • Wipe on poly
  • 320 sanding
  • Steel wool and wax

Cherry is tough to finish. You can't apply color directly to the wood, or it will splotch. Cherry will darken with age, but here's how I add color to cherry if requested by my client.

  • Sanding to 220
  • Shellac x 2 (I'm sealing the wood thoroughly so that no color touches it).
  • 320 sanding
  • Shellac: Clear and Amber mixed in various ratios to achieve different tones.
  • 320 sand
  • If more color is desired, I often use universal tints in very small quantities in the shellac.  
  • Or I use wood stain on top of shellac (wipe on, wipe off). Seal with shellac if color step is used.
  • 320 sanding
  • Wipe on poly
  • 320 sanding
  • Steel wool and wax

This is a finish recipe I use on oak to achieve a very old, rugged appearance. It varies by the piece a bit. Sometimes I add glaze, or vary the amount of poly depending on the sheen.

  • Sanding to 150
  • Light distressing
  • Wire brushing (brings out texture)
  • I apply a solution of steel wool soaked in white vinegar over night, strained, then diluted in water to achieve various tones. Much experimentation and adding / subtracting of water is required to achieve a specif tone. The vinegar solution reacts to the tannins in the oak. The effect is almost instantaneous.
  • Allow piece to dry
  • Highlighting (sand edges here and there to remove color)
  • Wipe on poly
  • 320 sanding
  • Wipe on poly
  • 320 sanding
  • Steel wool and wax

  • Sanding to 150
  • Light distressing
  • Wire brushing (brings out texture)
  • Sanding to 220
  • Wipe on poly
  • 320 sanding
  • Wipe on poly
  • 320 sanding
  • Steel wool and wax

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