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I would say most commonly people thin their finishes for two main reasons.

1) To use in an HVLP sprayer (high-volume low pressure). Because as the name says, these sprayers are low pressure it is more difficult for them to push thick oil paints/finishes and require thinning to work properly. They push a high volume of air to atomize the liquid so it applies evenly. In order for it to do this it needs to be nice a thin, basically.

2) To apply a "sealer" coat or to customize the finish. Usually a sealer coat is the first coat and is a very thin coat which is lightly sanded. This provides a smooth base for later coats and usually prevents the wood from sucking up finish unevenly. Consequently, the higher the solvent to solid ratio, the faster the coat dries as the volatile solvent evaporates quickly. Otherwise, some people just like to add a little more solvent because they like to work with a thinner product (prefer how it feels when they apply it), want to put on thinner coats, or think it flows and levels better. Usually thinning will make the product level out better, especially if you're using a brush to apply and don't want brush strokes.
 
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