Pine doors: shellac vs wiping varnish?

northcarolinaFebruary 8, 2011

There are a few pine doors in our basement that need finishing; they've been up for years unfinished but we're finally turning that room into living space (more or less). I have both clear dewaxed shellac (Zinsser ClearCoat) and varnish (Formby's tung oil finish) on hand. How do these two finishes look over time on pine? Similar, or would there be a significant difference in the look? Could I get away with as few coats of the varnish as the shellac to achieve about the same sheen? I am going to try to avoid painting... painting is such a pain with 6 panel doors, and there is other natural wood trim nearby (wainscoting in the stairwell). Wiping on with a rag is more fun, although both the shellac and the varnish stink to high heaven, so either way I would have to wait for a warm day so I can open the windows.


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Neither, IMHO.

Go to a paint store(I favor Sherwin Williams) and get real varnish. Or varnish at Ace Hardware.

Shellac dries too quickly to use on large areas like a door.

And Formby's stuff is just sales tools, not long term finishes.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 1:52PM
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Ah, I did not realize that Formby's was that much different than other kinds of varnish. Thanks for the opinion, I'll look into it!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 5:05PM
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I'm guessing what handymac means by "real varnish" is non-polyurethane varnish. Here are some options:

- Sherwin-Williams Wood Classics FastDry Oil Varnish(they make a number of polys, but this is not one of them)

- Cabot 8000 series (the final number indicates the sheen). I can get this at my local hardware store, sometimes by free "ship-to-store." Previously, this product was McCloskey's Heirloom and was re-branded a year or two ago.

- Waterlox Original (this is a darker amber due to its different oil and resin base)

- Pratt & Lambert #38

And realize, whatever the label says, if it's waterborne, it's largely an acrylic finish. It's not necessarily a bad thing, just different properties than oil-based and polyurethanes.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 5:43PM
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Thanks, bmu, I'll look into those too.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 6:38PM
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Thanks for the info! I'm restoring a dining table and did not want to use poly varnish. I got the Sherwin Williams FastDry.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 9:57AM
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