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Would any of you be willing to share their recipe or formula that you use to make up really good finish that you use on a new piece of turned wood?

Such as shellac with ???
or varnish with ???
or paint thinner with ???

Looking for something to have on hand in the shop that will leave a glossy hard finish on pretty much any kind of wood.

Thank you
Dick
 

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Why does it have to be a concoction. There are many prepackaged finishes you could use. There isn't a one finish that works great for any wood. The finish could vary depending on the application and then there is the means of applying it. Some finishes are better sprayed and some are better brushed. Shellac is one that is easier sprayed. The solvents in the shellac melt into the dried finish so working it by hand each time you put a coat on you remove a little of the previous coat. Some are better for light colored woods and some are better for dark woods. Oil based varnishes tend to yellow as they age and if you finish something light like ash it might look good when you are done but look profoundly yellow in ten years. Some finishes are better for exposure to water than others. That is one reason there are so many different types of finishes.

The closest finish I can think of to fit your description would be a precatalyzed lacquer. It will remain clear for both dark and light woods. It's not the best for wet locations but it dries quick and easy to use. It's something that should be sprayed though. What I like to do on turned wood if possible is to spray the turning and do the between the coats sanding on the lathe. This will produce a smoother finish than you could ever do by hand.
 

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I've been using General Finishes Woodturner's finish on my turnings. I tint it a little bit with two drops of Transtint amber in 8 ounces of finish. I apply the first coat with a small folded piece of rag and try to really get it soaked. After that dries for about an hour, I sand it with 320 to remove raised grain. After that, I apply subsequent costs with a cosmetic sponge wrapped in a piece of panty hose. I usually apply three coats before sanding, than apply another three coats. That's usually enough, but if I want to go for serious gloss and filled grain, I do 9-12 coats sanding every three coats. After that dries for a day or two it can be sanded with micro mesh and polished, but there's something about the combination of the cosmetic sponge wrapped in the panty hose that makes the surface almost perfect right off the lathe.

I don't use the panty hose/sponge combination on the first coat because the panty hose have a tendency to snag on the unsealed grain. Before you can get the lathe stopped, you've got a mile of thread wrapped around your turning and spend half a day unraveling it.
 
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