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I'm a novice wood worker. I have done some coffee tables and end tables. I need a mantel for my house and I happen to have an old chestnut beam that I would like to use. I want to bring out the grain in the wood, have a smooth appearance and also have a good sheen to the mantel as it will be a center piece in my living room. This is a picture of one that I found online with the look I want to achieve. Is this piece finished with a wax? Thanks in advance.
 

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You might just wipe the beam down with light oil stain to bring out the grain. Then seal is with a coat of Zinsser Sealcoat and topcoat it with a water based polyurethane. I think a satin finish would look better but I think the picture shown has a semi-gloss sheen to it.
 

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I don't think I would use a stain if I wanted to maintain the look of the wood. I would first use a 50/50 mix of BLO and either mineral spirits or naptha. That would enhance the look of the grain. When that dries I would use a waterbase polyurethane. There's a close similarity between "satin" and "semi-gloss". On some samples, try them both. On occasion, I have mixed either of them with a gloss, or the other way around, to get the look I wanted.






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