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Finish for hand tools

Welcome! Forums General Woodworking Discussions Finishing Finish for hand tools

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    Jim Taulbee

    I’ve made several of the hand tools that Paul has released videos for (winding sticks, rebate plane, dovetail template, bow saw, etc, along with marking gauges and jigs) but am unsure as to what type of finish to apply. I’m not opposed to using any particular finish except on my winding sticks which it seems would be best if the finish wasn’t glossy as that may reflect light and cause difficulty in reading. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    Peter Gaffney

    I would qualify every answer/suggestion with, “what is the intended use?” I put shellac on a lot of stuff as a finish to seal the wood, then I put a final finish based on the use of the item. Marking gauges get wax to aid in their sliding across wood while working, dovetail template has more shellac or some french polish to maintain a smooth surface for accurate registration for layout, etc. Winding sticks could get shellac then after sanding a layer or two of wax applied with #0000 steel wool (similar to Briwax) to leave a matte finish.
    How you apply a finish can sometimes make as much of a difference as what you apply. Find some videos on applying violin varnish and you’ll see how they use pumice stone, rotten stone, and tripoli to reach the desired luster and sheen. The same concept can be applied to finish on your items.

    Jim Taulbee

    Thanks Peter. Very helpful advice

    Larry Geib

    I use two coats of shellac buffed with 0000 steel wool followed by a coat or two of a wiping varnish – either Minwax tung oil finish or one I concoct from spar varnish and walnut oil.

    Depending on the intended use,that may be followed by a beeswax/carnauba wax/artists stand oil concoction. It might be thinned a bit with no odor mineral spirits.

    The wax gets renewed and buffed with a microfiber cloth from time to time.


    You can try Tru oil… It feels great and makes any wood look beautiful. It’s very easy to apply and renew as well. I used it for my chisel handles, winding sticks and wooden plane

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