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I'm new to finishing wood and could use some advice or suggestions. I've read quite a few threads here and I fear I may have overwhelmed myself at all of the options/techniques/etc. I'm looking for a durable finish that can withstand the wear and tear of a wet environment (namely tavern) but one that a newbie like myself can apply without fearing screwing it up. If someone could point me in the direction of an easy/suitable process it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks..
 

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I'd look into liquid bar top or waterlox. They'd probably be the best bet if you know it's going to have a lot of liquid contact, but someone else may have some better suggestions.
 

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Why not just paint it?
 

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Plain ole Polyurethane is durable and easy to apply.
 

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Is this for a bar? Then you need to use an epoxy based clear coat. They will be a two part paint one is a hardner, without which the paint will not dry or harden. It is somewhat like automotive paint but made for wood surfaces. I do not know of any names, you need to ask at a paint supply, it is not likely that you will find it at a hardware store. This is what they use for commerically made bar furniture.

You could use a polyurathane, or varnish but none are as durable as an epoxy based clear coat.
 

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Be sure to use an oil based polyurethane not one of the waterborne polys. The waterbornes do not stand up well to frequent wiping with cleaners.
 

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The rustic furniture shop down my street uses MinWax Tung Oil Protective Finish on all their canes and hiking staffs. I liked the effect on the wood so began to use it on many of my wood carvings. One coat is satin. When no smell, #2. When no smell, #3 is a water-wet-looking gloss. Went through a dish carving period, some of them see nearly daily use, quite durable.
 
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