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Thread: Workbench top finish?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Suffolk County, Long Island NY

    Workbench top finish?

    Hi,, almost finished with my first hand tool workbench, and I'm trying to decide on the best finish for the top.

    I have these two ready to go tonight:

    1) Williamsville wax:
    "Unequaled for the care, protection, and preservation of fine furniture and woodwork. Williamsville Wax "feeds the wood", revitalizes the finish, and provides heat-blended beeswax and lemon oil protection without build-up. A nourishing, restoring polish for any wood and type of finish, including catalyzed lacquer, varnish, shellac, oil, and polyurethane, and wood that has been neglected or mistreated. It is non-flammable and contains absolutely no silicone, turpentine, detergents, or other harmful ingredients."

    2) Watco Danish Oil:
    "WATCO Danish Oil is a unique blend of penetrating oil & varnish hardens in the wood, not on the wood. Watco Danish Oil penetrates deep into wood pores to protect from within and to enhance the natural look and feel of the wood. It creates the rich, warm glow of a traditional hand-rubbed finish. Many projects can be completed in less than an hour - simply brush or wipe on and wipe off. Watco Danish Oil is the choice of fine woodworkers and novices alike."

    On the base, I used the williamsville wax, and it gave a real nice tone.
    If I were to used the Danish oil, do I need to apply to the underside as well to avoid warping from only 1 side sealed?



    Last edited by Peter Pedisich; 05-04-2012 at 8:46 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Spring Hill, FL
    Nice bench. On my bench I used a mixture of 1/3 tungoil, 1/3 varnish, 1/3 Mineral spirits. Flood it and then wipe it off. A couple coats and your good to go. JME
    The older I get the faster I was.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Escondido, CA
    I followed the advice of Frank Klausz and used Watco. It is a good idea to use it on both sides.
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    On the contrary side, I left my bench top as is after planing it with a toothing blade and then knocking the loose stuff off with coarse sandpaper. I followed with a blend of turps and BLO. I like this top much better than my original, pretty looking one. It now manages my work pieces very well and anything secured by a holdfast is not going anywhere. I would call it "grippy".

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Portland, OR
    I used polymerized tung oil, which is along the same lines as boiled linseed oil. Watco Danish Oil is a thin varnish, so will produce a film finish on top of the wood, depending on how many coats you build up. You may like the relatively smooth surface of the film vs. the somewhat "grippier" feel of bare wood or oil finishes.

    As for the other product, I'd be pretty skeptical of anything that claims to "feed the wood". The lemon oil is really just a solvent for the beeswax to make it easier to spread and buff out. If you really want a slick worktop, beeswax would do it, but paste wax would probably be easier. I applied beeswax to my wooden vise screws and the guide rail for my sliding leg vise.

    I'll throw out a plug for any of Bob Flexner's books on finishes. I have his older book Understanding Wood Finishing and the more recent Flexner on Finishing. He does a great job of explaining what different types of finishes really are, vs. the marketing propaganda, and how to use them.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    West Central Florida
    +one on the Watco oil.
    Jim Davenport
    Reporting from the depths of the Magic Garage

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Plano, TX
    It seems I am in the minority, but I don't think a bench top needs a finish. I certainly don't want my bench top to be slick, just flat and "grippy" like Mike said.
    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  8. #8
    Nope for me too.
    I clean it with a my jointer every year or so. It's D.Fir

    Steven Thomas

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Burlington, Vermont
    I'm still figuring this out for myself - the bench top is the only part of the bench I haven't finished yet. I still need to do a final flattening, but that would involve pulling everything off the top . . . (fortunately I've been working on small things, as my workable area has been getting smaller and smaller - although it's mostly wood for the next bits of work)

    But I had to chime in and say your bench looks great, and your shop looks like a joy. (although given my tiny space, I'm jealous of everyone's shop!) That light streaming in just inspires one to work.

    Love that wooden plane, too.

  10. #10
    I vote for oil varnish blend.

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