Bench - Finshing Question

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Project by Marc5 posted 11-10-2010 04:46 AM 2661 views 3 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hey LJ’s

Finally got back in the shop last weekend and made some good progress on the bench. The top is made out of 8/4 cherry I had in the rack and the frame is pine from the local big box store. I am debating on adding a 24” wide x 3/8” slot on the back side of the bench for my chisels. I will most likely will go with it since I seem to be using them on every project.

I am now at the final flattening and sanding stage quite honestly do not know whether to use poly or oil to finish. I could use some advice if anyone has any.

-- Marc

18 comments so far

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3170 posts in 3158 days

#1 posted 11-10-2010 04:59 AM

Well, I’m real partial to the look I got on my birch butcher block workbench (Rockler) by using raw linseed oil and carnauba wax. Of course, it’s a workbench, so it has gouges in it already (I also use it for some automotive repair work; then it has cardboard under it, but sharp objects punch through anyway).

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View dannymac's profile


144 posts in 3065 days

#2 posted 11-10-2010 05:13 AM

I used Howard’s Butcher bolck conditioner on mine. it has mineral oil with bees wax and carnuaba wax. i gave it 3 coats to start with and it’s holding up great . most scratches i can just buff out and it’s less than 10 bucks a bottle. got mine at HD

-- dannymac

View swirt's profile


2811 posts in 3021 days

#3 posted 11-10-2010 05:25 AM

BLO for the top. Poly would make for a very slippery bench top which is not safe.

-- Galootish log blog,

View sawdustmaster's profile


70 posts in 2876 days

#4 posted 11-10-2010 05:40 AM

I finished my bench about a week ago. 8/4 maple and finished it with pure tung oil. first coat was a 70/30 mix of oil and mineral spirits. Second and third coats were full strength tung oil. I love the finish it gave, color is great and after it cures ( 2 months Im told) it makes a fantastic work surface. Glue resistant and adds a level or two of durability being that the tung oil hardens over time. I have read varrying reports on the use of BLO and waxes. Most of the comments I found said that treating with tung oil or diluted tung oil is a reliable way to go.
THIS BEING SAID…iF YOU CHOOSE TO USE TUNG EXPECT TO BE WIPIN AND RUBBIN THE WEEP OUT OIL EVERY 20 MINUTES FOR THE NEXT THREE DAYS. The bench will look great when its done but even with the extra effort involved it is arguably a superior finish. Semi glossy amber coated elegance upon which to construct wooden masterpieces. I applied mine by hands weraing two latex gloves and just dove in. Get youre hands in there and you can really feel the cracks and joints and edges. It lets you do a true custom coating job. I mean who? WHO doesnt love a long hard wood rubbing job? with oil?

-- --Now we are surrounded sir. "Excellent private, now we can attack in any direction."

View PurpLev's profile


8539 posts in 3698 days

#5 posted 11-10-2010 05:45 AM

Boiled Linseed Oil is my choice. it penetrates the wood and seals it from moisture, but leaves the wood feel, and does not create a slippery film on top that will cause parts to slide around which is exactly what you are trying to avoid with a good bench to keep parts in place.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View jaedwards575's profile


90 posts in 3107 days

#6 posted 11-10-2010 07:07 AM

My go-to finish is Danish oil. I like the colors it bring out, as well as the sealing properties. Im really not sure how it would hold up to wear. Ive never tried BLO, but from reading posts every day it seems about 90% of LJs swear by it.

-- Aaron Possom Town, TN

View Tadd's profile


35 posts in 2861 days

#7 posted 11-10-2010 08:10 AM

Well, I will tell you what Chris Schwarz, Editor of Popular Woodworking, used in his new video: 1/3 BLO, 1/3 Varnish, 1/3 Mineral Spirits, mixed together, and wiped on. Basically, he uses a homemade Danish Oil.

-- Tadd, Denver,

View dannymac's profile


144 posts in 3065 days

#8 posted 11-10-2010 01:34 PM

couple of questions here for the other posters. how long does the blo take to dry and how resistant is it to glues and finnishes. the post on tung oil sounds like it would take forever before i could use the bench.This wasn’t my thread to begin with but i still have a couple of benches left to build and i always like to go with whats better

-- dannymac

View TheDane's profile (online now)


5460 posts in 3712 days

#9 posted 11-10-2010 03:10 PM

About 16 months ago, I finished my workbench with a turpentine / bee’s wax / boiled linseed oil concoction. I am very pleased with the results, it has held up well, sheds glue and other spills, and it is a relatively inexpensive ‘finish’ that is easy to apply and maintain.

The recipe: 16 oz Gum Turpentine 2 oz shaved/grated Bee’s Wax (dissolve Bee’s Wax completely in turpentine) 16 oz Boiled Linseed Oil. Apply liberally, let sit for two hours, then wipe off excess Let ‘cure’ for a few days, then buff.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

267 posts in 3238 days

#10 posted 11-10-2010 04:28 PM

I can’t offer an opinion because I’m annoyed that you chose to make your benchtop from cherry and had 8/4 sitting in around in your woodrack to actually do it. :-)

But I will say that I added a tool rack to the back edge of my workbench and it’s one of the best mods I’ve ever done.

View HenryH's profile


139 posts in 3454 days

#11 posted 11-10-2010 04:53 PM

Nice bench, well done.
I suggest BLO or tung oil. Just one good coat. Two at the most.
Poly or wax will make it slippery. Its a workbench you do not need to worry about scratches.
Enjoy it.

-- HenryH - PA

View PurpLev's profile


8539 posts in 3698 days

#12 posted 11-10-2010 05:24 PM

dannymac- as far as BLO, it takes a while to dry at first, as mentioned above you’d need to wipe bleeds out for a week or so after application to raw dry wood not too bad though. it just may feel a bit tacky, but it’s not going to be wet. it will also not protect from spills and glues as I mentioned – it penetrates into the wood and does not create a protective film on top for better for worse. it will protect the wood from moisture and decay, not from mishaps in the shop but will offer friction to hold parts to the bench.

I do not finish, nor do glueups on my workbench for 2 reasons:
1. finishing and glueup takes time to dry, and I want to keep the workbench free for well… working on.
2. spills will be a pain to clean up but this is really secondary to the above reason.

I do glueups and finishes on a sheet of 40×40 masonite which I then store away.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3020 days

#13 posted 11-10-2010 05:45 PM

I used a mix of BLO and poly. About 75% BLO to 25% poly. This has been a great surface to work on. Poly helps make it more resistant to water, glue and finish drips, but at the 25% ratio it’s not enough to make it too slick. My top was dry enough to work on in about 3 or 4 days, but I waited a week.

View eyekode's profile


30 posts in 2832 days

#14 posted 11-11-2010 03:45 AM

I like what Christopher Schwarz does on his bench for chisels:

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 2930 days

#15 posted 11-11-2010 04:31 AM

I used Watco natural oil. It worked great.

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

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