Finishing materials.

Finishing materials.

This section covers a wide variety of materials, I will take you through the use for some of them, it starts with the sanding, this can be done by hand held sanding or by a mechanised method such as with a hand drill and some sanding pads, there are several different sanding mandrels and discs on the market, the ones I use and would recommend are the Powerlock system, (see dedicated page). As for the actual finish they come in all sorts of formats, some are water based, some are spirit based whilst others are cellulose based. Most come in tins or bottles in liquid form, some come in spray cans. Whatever type you use very much depends on the end use for the item made, for example, anything that has to hold food or be in contact with food needs to be food safe or left without a finish at all. For most of the decorative items several finishes could be applied from oils, lacquers, waxes  and varnishes.

Other item you will need include, steel wool, paper towels some polishing cloths a hand brush.

The first of these requirements will be for the sanding, whatever system you use.

Left, this is J-Flex sanding cloth, it comes in rolls 100 mm wide and can be purchased in various lengths. It also comes in a very wide range of grits from 40 grit (very rough) right up to 600 grit (very smooth). Of the hand held sanding cloths this is the one I would recommend. You do not need to get all the grit sizes, start with 3 or 4 different grits, I only ever use 3 grits, 120, 180 and 240, I find this is more than adequate to achieve a good finish, the secret to good sanding is to keep it on the move and don’t apply too much pressure especially with the last grit.

Below the POWERLOCK system mandrills.

If you opt to use a powered system, I would recommend the Powerlock system, It’s what I use myself and have done for many years with excellent results, the ones shown left are the standard 50 mm holder and the standard 75 mm holder, both would be powered by a hand drill.

These are the sanding discs that accompany the mandrills above. You can see that they have their own fixing method that holds the disc in the mandrill.

They come in a wide range of grit sizes, but all that’s required is for you to use only 3 different grit sizes, 120, 180 and 240. They are used with minimal pressure in all 3 grits just as would be the case with hand held sanding cloth.

If you want to use this system and have difficulty in finding a supplier get back to me and I will give you the information required to purchase them.

There are other powered systems available, one of which uses velcro as the fixing method, another has the same velcro backed discs on a hand held device that’s not powered.

Below, Abranet discs.

There are various other types of sanding materials available, Abranet being one of them Webrax being another, these are all very useful additions to your finishing materials.


Next on my list would be Steel Wool.

Steel wool is used throughout the turning process and a very vital commodity, it’s first use is just after the final sanding grit is used, so following on from the 240 grit, this gives the work piece a final rub back, it will also remove any dust particles left behind after the sanding. It’s next use is after the first coat of sanding sealer has been applied and allowed to dry, the sealer will have raised the grain on the wood, this needs to be rubbed back using the 0000 grade steel wool, the work will feel slightly rough after the sealer dries, this is called raising the grain, it needs to be smoothed or flattened with the steel wool. Take a wad of steel wool in your hand and apply to the rotating article, apply sufficient pressure to make the steel wool work but not so much as to damage the finish, this may need to be done more than once depending on the wood being used.

Sealing the wood.



This is Mylands Sanding Sealer a cellulose product used to seal the wood. It comes in liquid form that needs to be thinned down before use. My own mix is one of 50% sealer to 50% cellulose thinners, mixed and held in a jar, it’s applied with a soft brush fairly liberally and allowed to dry before flattening with steel wool, some softer or more pourous woods may require the sealing and flattening to be done more than once.


This is Mylands cellulose thinners, the product used to thin the sealer but is also used to thin the finishing coat of Melamine.




This is Mylands Melamine Lacquer, the product I use as a finish coat, it’s used thinned down with cellulose thinners at a rate of 60% Melamine to 40% thinners. It can be applied by brush or with a wad of paper towel. My choice is to use a paper towel and cover the entire work piece with the lacquer then allow it to dry for a few minutes before burnishing with another clean paper towel, this will produce a soft sheen finish, if you require a higher gloss repeat the Melamine until the finish you require is obtained.

Next type of finish to consider is an Oil finish, these come in a variety of different oils, the end use usually determines which one to use, some are food safe whilst some others are aromatic. All the oils take time to dry and most will require several coats, I will take you through just the ones I use myself and the reasons why.

This is Mylands finishing oil, my first choice for an oil finish that does not need to be food safe. It could be used on all sorts of items, the work piece needs to be sealed first using the Sanding sealer, then a coat of oil would be applied using a wad of paper towel rubbed well in, then allowed to dry at a base temperature of no less than 55 degrees the time would be usually about 24 hrs any colder than that and the time will be longer. Several coats may be required to achieve the finish you want, burnishing between coats.


For all my products that require a food safe finish this is the one I use, What items would require this type of finish, well anything that has to come in contact with food apart from Spurtles which require no finish at all. The method of use is to coat the sanded surface with a liberal coat of oil with a soft brush, allow to soak in for a few minutes before removing the excess with a paper towel, no sealer will be required. Once dry (a few hours) burnish with a paper towel and repeat, from the bare wood it will take 3-4 coats of oil for a good finish.


Another very useful oil is this one, Lemon Oil, can be used for the same items as that for the food safe oil, and applied in exactly the same way. It’s advantage is that it’s fairly aromatic when newly applied.




Tung oil, this oil is used on any other item that is not in contact with food, it’s slightly thicker in consistency but can be thinned with a good quality oil thinners. It’s applied in much the same way as any other oil by applying a liberal coat, allowing to soak in for a few minutes before wiping off the excess, it too will require several coats to give you a good finish, this oil is best left to dry for 24hrs between coats.

Friction Polish, this polish is very good on relatively small items, it can be used straight from the bottle onto the bare wood or on top of sanding sealer. It’s applied to the stationary article then allowed to dry for a few minutes before burnishing with a paper towel.



As a final finish to your work a coat of wax applied to the stationary article can make a great difference to the finish, apply with a cloth rubbing it well into the wood, allow to dry for 15-20 minutes before buffing up with a clean soft cloth.


My preferred choice of wood waxes is Liberon’s  Black Bison paste wax, there are others on the market. Don’t use any wax based polish where moisture can occur it will leave you with a lot of white marks.



There are a whole range of items that require no finish at all after sanding, things like Spurtles, honey dippers, spatulas and all the wooden spoons, all these items are best made from Beech and sanded only.


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