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Louis' notes on finishes. No authority is claimed, read at your own risk. Louis is not a safety specialist. All of the finishes have potential hazards. Follow material labeling and SDS sheets.


  • Oils
    • Linseed Oil (boiled), a standard finish. It is cheap. It goes on as a liquid and oxidizes into a polymer. It is flaxseed oil. From the hardware store it is not food grade and is poisonous. The food grade non-boiled version does harden but it takes longer.
    • Tongue It works like linseed but is a little more durable.
  • Waxes . Some paste waxes have gone off the market due to hazards of the solvents. You can apply wax with a heat gun. The fumes are hazardous and there is a fire hazard. They are not hard, but are easy to apply. They melt in cars and in shipping.
    • Beeswax. natural, can be edible. Soft.
    • American Parffin sometimes call "canning wax" Not hard but harder.
    • stearic acid, a natural product, very soft.
    • carnuba a natural wax, harder than beeswax.
    • encaustic mixes These are slightly harder. They contain Damar Resin.
  • Natural resins
    • Damar, Damar Tree varnish dissolved in turpentine, paint thinner or orange solvents. It is harder than waxes and more durable than oils. Likely it does not like alkaline soaps. Edible damar can be purchased in middle eastern food stores sometimes.
    • Shellac, The exudate of a bug. It is dissolved in alcohol. The finish clouds when wet. It is hard like damar and easily renewable.
  • Unnnatural
    • Acrylic Hard, durable.
    • Oil based urethane gets gummy over time when exposed to water or oil.
    • Waterborne urethane More durable than oil based urethanes. It can be purchased UV resistant. Grades vary some. It is hard to apply well to textured surfaces.
    • nitrocellulose finishes. These are nitrocellulose dissolved in solvent. Traditionally this was acetone. They are quite hard and durable.
    • synthetic oil finishes
    • sodium silicate?
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Page last modified on September 14, 2023, at 05:09 PM