7 Fabulous Wood Finishing Tips . . . For Procrastinators

Okay folks, we’ve been around long enough to know that you’re going to be building your holiday gifts right up to the night when all through the house not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.

And that probably means you’re gonna throw on a couple coats of finish a matter of hours before dawn. So, look, I know all about procrastination, I was an English major, I’m here to help!

Here’s a little guidance on how to pick a wood finish when you’re running short on time:

1. Spray & Wipe-on Finishes Are Fast & Good Looking

applying oil finish to sapele

A wiping varnish applies fast, and makes dark woods look beautiful.

Rattle cans of lacquer or waterborne acrylic apply and dry so quickly that, if you’re in a pinch, this is my first recommendation when a yuletide deadline draws near.

You only need about 30 minutes between coats, and they can be scuffed baby-bottom smooth within moments.

On the downside, they’re not very tough finishes. Down the road repairs and refreshing may be needed but are easy to do.

Second in line is a wipe-on varnish like Danish oil or another oil-varnish blend. That’s because the wipe-on, wipe-off application is nearly fool proof to get right and they look good with very, very little effort.

These types of finishes need about 6 hours to dry between coats, but for some decorative projects one coat will do the job just fine. BONUS: these finishes will make dark woods punchy with contrast and depth. 

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