My Best Finishing Tip for Hardwoods

After doing plenty of research and trying multiple methods I came up with my own process of finishing hardwoods for products that do not come in direct contact with food. I’ve used this process on chess boards, lathe pieces (such as candle holders and pepper mills) along with coaster sets, etc. The finish is clear, hard and beautiful!
Before I begin I’ll tell you what I tried previously:
1. Minwax Paste Finishing Wax: a nice starter product that applies easy and protects the wood, but hardly an “eye popping” finish
2. Boiled Linseed Oil covered with Instant Bond Wood Adhesive: better, but not great
3. A variety of other finishes I saw online but again, none matched the success below:
My process for finishing is as follows:
1. Sand the wood thoroughly. On my lathe products I’ll go up to 3000 grit but that’s probably overkill.
2. Wipe the wood with a tack cloth to remove all sawdust
3. Apply a layer of sanding sealer: I use either dewaxed shellac cut 50/50 with denatured alcohol or sanding sealer cut the same. This stuff dries fast and a thin coat is all you need. It will seal your wood and provide a base to build your finish on
4. .Wait a few hours, (overnight does best) then lightly sand with Zero steel wool or the highest grit sand paper you have (1500+)
5. Apply a thin coat of General Finishes ARM-R-SEAL (Topcoat). I use either Satin or Semi-gloss depending on how much shine I want.
HINT: when you put the topcoat on have a paper towel handy; lightly wipe the excess off so you don’t get drip marks.
I put my turning products back on the lathe to get a well distributed finish.
6. Let sit overnight; your wood should be dry to the touch with no tackiness at all. Believe me, if the wood feels tacky you put too much topcoat on and have to either wait longer to dry or sand and start over. (I speak from experience and I don’t like waiting!)
Repeat steps 4-6 until you get the look you like. I use a minimum of 3 coats That’s it!
Take a look at the finish you get; if you’ve got sweet grain patterns to show off this will do it!
MY KEY STORAGE TIP: Shellac’s and urethane’s all need to be stirred well to bring all the chemicals into suspension. DO NOT SHAKE THE CAN, I REPEAT, DO NOT SHAKE THE CAN!  Before you remove the lid for STIRRING mark the top of the can with a sharpie or other permanent marker. Run your line over the edge of the can so that you will always put the lid on the same way!
I use a disposable brush to apply my finish, this way I can control spillage better; and I’ve learned to take my time….:)To the educated woodworker this may seem like a no brainer but I have wasted far too many cans of finish by rushing the job; shaking the can, then trying to get the lid back on while all that finish goop has gotten into the grooves.
Believe me, this works!

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