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Thread: Finishing a rocking horse for my son

  1. #1

    Lightbulb Finishing a rocking horse for my son

    Need some finishing advice. As you can tell in the picture I am making a rocking horse for my son. Next step is to sand and finish the wood before assembly. Lighter wood is hard maple and darker wood is walnut. I personally would like to keep the wood as natural as possible. But also would like to make the grain/natural color of the wood “pop” a bit. While also being safe for children and adding some durability to the piece. Any thoughts would be appreciated. I have tested boiled lin seed oil, dark walnut stain and will probably test tung oil on scrap pieces. Would like for this piece to last as long as possible. Some questions to start.

    Would oil be enough?
    Would it need shellac, Polly, etc?
    Sand to 220 before and after?

    I feel the least experienced with finishing but I do understand it is the most important part of the whole process.


    (The walnut I’m using doesn’t seem to have a lot of sap wood on it so shouldn’t be too much of an issue)

    30513673-CE5F-461E-8F7A-6DFFBE4451DF.jpg

  2. #2
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    Poly will stand the wear better, shellac is food safe and easily repairable if there are toddlers following along behind that may chew.
    "What kind of chump do you take me for?"
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  3. #3
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    Why don't you experiment on scraps. You will know when it is right.

  4. #4
    I would sand it to higher than 220. I usually go to at least 600.

    Then, I'd finish it with about 3 coats of wipe-on poly, applied with blue shop towels.

    Even better than the Minwax Wipe on Poly (which is readily available at most home stores), is General Finishes Arm-R-Seal. Both are wipe on consistency and will give you the look you are probably after.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by glenn bradley View Post
    Poly will stand the wear better, shellac is food safe and easily repairable if there are toddlers following along behind that may chew.
    All current finishes are non-toxic when cured. Polyurethane would be the most durable short of catalytic type finishes.

  6. #6
    So no oil before the poly? The wipe on poly will highlight the wood on its own?

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    I only sand mine to 220, if it is going to be well used and well loved it will get get beat up. For the finish, do you want to be able to refinish it easily, use shellac or lacquer, if you want a more durable finish but harder to refinish use poly.

  8. #8
    Wipe on poly without the oil. The ones i mentioned are oil based. A first coat of shellac or oil won't largely be noticed. Personally, I wouldn't go for a big film finish. Sand up to a high grit and use a few thin coats. Every year or so, just refresh it quickly. But that's me. I welcome the stories a child's marks make. Also, it really will only take abuse for a year or two until he's outgrown it.

    YMMV.

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