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Finishing Comparison Guide...

Use this chart to compare finishes based on their appearance, durability and application. For more information about using these three criteria to choose your finish, see our article "Start to Finish".

Items marked with a star indicate our most frequently recommended products. In our experience, these products are among the easiest to use, and give consistently good results.


WIPE-ON FINISHES
When applying wipe-on type products, we recommend using lint-free cotton or Rockler's high-quality Cheese Cloth.
Rockler's Poly Gel Finish
Rockler's Poly Gel FinishCHARACTERISTICS & QUALITIES:
Easy to apply. Simply wipe on. For a drip proof, run proof and uniform finish.
APPEARANCE: Satin sheen increases with the number of coats. Won't fade.
DURABILITY & USAGE: Good to very good durability. Suggested for use on chairs, dressers, and chests. Also ideal for use on molding and woodwork.
Rockler Shellac Kits
Rockler Shellac KitsCHARACTERISTICS & QUALITIES:
It dries very fast and gives you a nice appearance.
APPEARANCE: Best for matching antique finishes. Tinted for different wood tones.
DURABILITY & USAGE: It is not completely water resistant, and it can be brittle.
Rockler's WunderCote Finish
Rockler's WunderCote Finish CHARACTERISTICS & QUALITIES:
Easy to apply. Simply wipe on. Requires less sanding. Fast dry time.
APPEARANCE: Slight amber cast to it so it looks more like a varnish finish. Available in gloss and semi-gloss.
DURABILITY & USAGE: Good to very good durability. Suggested for use on furniture and table tops.
Sam Maloof's Poly/Oil by Rockler
Sam Maloof's Poly/Oil by RocklerCHARACTERISTICS & QUALITIES: Gives a very professional looking, handsome finish yet is relatively easy to use.
APPEARANCE: When used alone, you'll get a satin to semi-gloss finish with good chatoyance. Adds warmth to natural wood color.
DURABILITY & USAGE: Good durability. World-renowned furniture maker Sam Maloof uses this in combination with the Sam Maloof Oil/Wax (see below) for his museum-quality tables, rocking chairs, and other furniture.
Sam Maloof's Oil/Wax by Rockler
Sam Maloof's Oil/Wax by Rockler CHARACTERISTICS & QUALITIES: This oils-and- beeswax formula is made to be used in conjunction with Sam Maloof's Poly/Oil finish.
APPEARANCE: Use after applying Sam Maloof's Poly/Oil finish to increase chatoyance and give a rich, semi-gloss appearance.
DURABILITY & USAGE: See above. Oil/Wax formula is recommended for use on furniture that won't be exposed to excessive heat or moisture.
Arm-R-Seal by General Finishes
Arm-R-Seal by General FinishesCHARACTERISTICS & QUALITIES: Deeply penetrates wood and builds to a highly protective finish.
APPEARANCE: Available in satin, semi-gloss, or gloss.
DURABILITY & USAGE: Excellent. Our most durable wipe-on finish due to the high polyurethane content. Great for kitchen tables and other pieces that need to stand up to heat, moisture, and alcohol.
General Finishes Nordic Oil
General Finishes Nordic OilCHARACTERISTICS & QUALITIES: Formulated of pure oils, phenolic resins, and drying agents that go on easily. Non-toxic when dry, meaning it can be used on surfaces that will come into contact with food.
APPEARANCE: Flat to satin-sheen finish.
DURABILITY & USAGE: Excellent durability. Water and abrasion resistant. A good choice for highly burnished turned surfaces, such as bowls and vases. Also great for walking sticks and chairs — even table tops.
Rockler's 100% Pure Tung Oil
Rockler's 100% Pure Tung OilCHARACTERISTICS & QUALITIES: A 100% natural oil containing no driers or solvents.
APPEARANCE: Flat to satin-sheen finish.
DURABILITY & USAGE: Good to very good. Very water-resistant. Use on furniture or any wood object where easy maintenance is desired
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General Finishes Danish Oil
General Finishes Danish OilCHARACTERISTICS & QUALITIES: High linseed oil content penetrates deeply into wood. Tried-and-true and easy to use.
APPEARANCE: Flat sheen with "open pore" appearance.
DURABILITY & USAGE: Fair durability. Use on indoor furniture and decorative items. Requires reapplication over time.
Woodburst Chinawood Oil
Woodburst Chinawood OilCHARACTERISTICS & QUALITIES: Designed especially for outdoor use, but can be used indoors as well.
APPEARANCE: Flat to satin sheen.
DURABILITY & USAGE: Good to very good durability. Helps protect wood from elements. Great for use on decks, outdoor furniture, picnic tables, and backyard play sets.
General Finishes Salad Bowl Finish
General Finishes Salad Bowl FinishCHARACTERISTICS & QUALITIES: Made to be 100% safe for use on any wood surface that comes into contact with food. Varnish/oil blend.
APPEARANCE: Flat to satin sheen.
DURABILITY & USAGE: Good durability. Use on salad bowls, wooden spoons, cutting boards, etc.
General Finishes Toy Maker's Finishes
General Finishes Toy Maker's FinishesCHARACTERISTICS & QUALITIES: Safe for use on children's toys and furniture. Applies easily like an oil, yet looks like a varnish.
APPEARANCE: Flat to satin sheen.
DURABILITY & USAGE: Good to very good durability. Use on bare wood or stained children's furniture and toys.
BRUSH ON FINISHES
General Finishes Poly/Acrylic Waterbase
General Finishes Poly/Acrylic WaterbaseCHARACTERISTICS & QUALITIES: Very fast drying and easy to apply. Easy water clean-up.
APPEARANCE: Your choice of satin or gloss. Virtually clear so it adds almost no color to wood.
DURABILITY & USAGE: Good to very good. Use on chairs, dressers, chests, molding and woodwork.
General Finishes EF High Performance Waterbase Polyurethane
General Finishes EF High Performance Waterbase PolyurethaneCHARACTERISTICS & QUALITIES: "EF" stands for environmentally friendly! Fast-drying. Easy water clean-up.
APPEARANCE: Your choice of satin or gloss. Virtually clear, so it adds almost no color to wood.
DURABILITY & USAGE: Excellent durability. Tough enough for kitchen/dining room tables. Durable enough even for floors!

See Finishing Q&A with Nordy Rockler.

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