How to Finish Your Wood

by Oct 26, 2022Wood Working

The last stage of any woodworking project is finishing the wood, so you will need a variety of carpentry supplies. Finishing changes the appearance of bare wood and gives it a refined look. Wood surfaces that have been finished have more appealing qualities, such as improved resistance to moisture and other environmental factors. In fact, the main function of a wood finish is to protect the wood surface from staining and moisture.

Finishing is done by applying a wood finish product. A wood finish is a clear, transparent coating that gives the wood a richer, deeper appearance and added protection. The quality of the finish will determine how resistant the wood will be to moisture.

Why You Should Apply a Finish?

Tips for Finishing Your WoodWood finish has two main purposes: protection and appearance. Here’s why you should finish your wood before completing a woodworking project.


Due to its porous nature, wood can absorb anything that comes in contact with it, including chemicals, oils, and grime. A finish can protect the wood and prevent all forms of grime from entering the grain. The major function of a wood finish is to protect the wood surface from scuffs, dents, spills, moisture, humidity, insects, fungus, etc.

The intriguing part is that the thicker the finish, the more resistant the wood becomes.


Every wood has a grain, but some are more noticeable than others. When a finish is added, the grain will be highlighted, which enhances the beauty of the natural wood. This will also highlight the wood’s colour, figure patterns, and depth.

Additionally, finishes improve the appearance of wood by masking blemishes, lowering porosity, and giving it a radiant look.

Types of Wood Finishes

There are different types of wood finishes highlighted below.

Surface Finishes

Surface finishes, as the name suggests, are used to coat the top of the wood to add a layer of protection. There are many different options, including water-based, oil-based, and more. This kind of wood finish is ideal for flooring and furniture.


Wood paint, like other finishes, covers and protects the wooden surface. Latex paint is ideal for furniture and interior wooden surfaces since it provides stronger protection than an oil paint finish. To get the best paint finish, you must prepare the wooden surface with a primer.

Polyurethane Wood Finish

Polyurethane is a thin, transparent liquid coating applied by brushing or spraying. It provides protection, adds a golden hue, and brings out the grain in finished wood. Both water- and oil-based polyurethane are used to finish wood. The oil-based polyurethane dries slowly and doesn’t require reapplication.

Shellac Finishes

Shellac is a wood finish that is simple to apply with a rag, brush, or sprayer. It dries quickly. The warm colour of shellac accentuates the wood’s inherent beauty. The downside is that it will be taken off if alcohol spills. It is also less durable than other finishes, but it is simple to fix.


Lacquer is a finish that can be applied with a bristle brush or spayed on. It is a mix of many glossy wood finishes. It is perfect for wooden furniture such as shelves and cabinets. Solvent evaporation occurs throughout the drying process, producing a hard, long-lasting finish. Finishing can be completed quicker with lacquers than with oils because of the quick drying time. Projects using lacquer finishes are vulnerable to cracking and chipping over time because it dries hard.

Paste Wax

A cheesecloth or rag is frequently used to apply paste wax. It is a substance that has been applied to woodworking products for ages to aid in applying a delicate, smooth finish. However, wax is no longer frequently used as the only wood finish because it is soft and has a low resistance, and wax can be penetrated by alcohol or heat. Wax is an effective way to fill in scratches and penetrate hard surfaces. It restores furniture that has lost its sheen with a lovely luster.

Penetrating Finishes

Penetrating finishes penetrate deeply into the surface of the wood. Examples of penetrating finishes are Linseed, Danish, and Tung oils.

Interior Wood Stain

Interior stains are frequently applied to wood surfaces, after which a clear protective coating covers them.


The varnish finish on wooden surfaces provides a durable covering with good UV protection. It is made of oils, resins, and thinners or solvents. This wood varnish accentuates the natural appearance of the wood because it leaves the grain exposed.

Wood Oils

Directly applying wood oil to bare wood can provide protection and aesthetic appeal. Wood oils nourish the wood from the inside, rehydrating woods that may have been dry from exposure and providing a long-lasting, low-cost finish for wooden surfaces.

Why Choosing the Right Wood Finish Is Important?

Choosing the right wood finish is important because, with a good finish, you will get the desired results. Some factors need to be considered before choosing a finish. The first is the wood you are working on, as different woods take finish differently. That’s why selecting a finish specifically designed for the type of wood you are working on will produce better results.

You also need to choose a finish that has high durability. The finish should resist damage and scratches.

How to Apply a Wood Finish?

Follow these steps to apply your wood finish.

Step 1: Prepare the Wood

Use a medium grit sandpaper first, then a fine grit, to lightly sand the wood in the direction of the grain to ensure it is prepared for staining. When you’re finished, check the wood to see whether you’re satisfied with the surface.

Step 2: Apply the Stain

Always test your stain choice on a hidden region of the project or a scrap piece of wood that is the same wood species as the piece you plan to finish. Use a rag or a brush to apply the stain. Avoid leaving any puddles or uneven clumps by applying the stain evenly. You may apply the stain more evenly by using brushes rather than rags.

Step 3: Apply the Finish

Always use a clear finish as a topcoat following staining. It will shield the wood from stains from food and drink, water, common household chemicals, and daily use.

Alternatively, you can use a one-coat system like Tover L’Olio which is a hard wax coating giving you durability and stain in one. Check out our store for more info.

Visit Our Online Store or Contact Us for Your Wood Finish Needs

SSG Brands is one of the biggest distributors of the best woodworking supplies in Canada. Whether you are still deciding on the perfect finish for your project or are already sure of the finish, we are always ready to help you get the best from your wood. You can visit our online store or contact us today to get the best woodwork repair kit, carpentry supplies, wood oil, and wood finish for your needs.

Also Read: Jesmonite Starter Kit: Make Beautiful Christmas Decorations Easily!

Marco Porcelli is the Owner & President of SSG Brands, which is the distribution partner for Akfix, Tover, and Jesmonite in Canada and the USA. He has a proven history of working well across numerous industries and a passion for building brands and developing market strategies for new brands in the North American market.