Polished wooden deskFinishers have the ability to strike fear into people. The pressure of completing your project after hours of precise design and intricate build work with the correct finish is enough to put people off entirely, often leaving their woodwork unprotected and allowing it to degrade over time. The fact is, there are many different finishes available on the market, so it is easy to see how confusion is sparked.

Different finishes provide your woodwork with different levels of protection and durability, so it is important to take into consideration the use and placement of your work before making your decision. There are also ways in which to apply them which differ from each other, so be sure to use them in the correct way to gain the highest quality and best look from your finisher. We have summarised the effects and application methods of the three most popular finishes for woodwork.


There are a range of different oils available on the market, however, they don’t all provide the same finish or require equal application methods. Danish and tung-oil sealers provide a natural finish whilst penetrating any grazes or scratches but must be applied in layers over a longer period of time and are strong enough to withstand any weathering type. They are available to purchase in a range of colour and gloss choices which can match any style and shade with a smooth, natural finish. Linseed oil is slightly harder to work with as the texture is stickier so takes additional perseverance when applying.

Before applying any waxes, you must ensure that the wood is sanded down until smooth and cleaned thoroughly, removing any dust or grit. Application only requires a cloth and the heel of your hand. Cover the surface with your oil-covered cloth and continue until the oil no longer seeps into the wood. Then continue by working the wax in the same direction of the grain using the heel of your hand. The warmth from your body will assist the oil in penetrating the wood so this step may take around 10 minutes. Once complete, wipe the surface with a clean cloth until there is either only a thin layer of oil remaining, or none at all. Allow to dry before recoating the following day.


The perfect finish for those smaller indoor projects. With wax being of a light consistency, it remains soft so cannot protect from heat or outdoor weathering as these factors can break it down. The finish will provide your wood with a shine that lasts whilst preventing water from seeping its way in or avoiding any needed moisture from creeping its way out whilst also filling any scratches or crevices, creating an even-looking surface.

After dusting your project down from dust and dirt, apply the wax with a clean cloth. Rub it in circular motions until the desired area is covered. Once the wax dries, the woodwork will appear dull. Use a clean cloth to wipe off any excess and buff it into an even layer, revealing infinite shine that brings your wood to life.


Wiping varnishes are one of the most durable finishes available. With the ability to withstand heat and weathering, it would be suitable for both indoor and outdoor furniture. With the ability to dry quickly, they are also simple to apply whilst also adding a glossy tone to the woodwork.

Application works fast with wiping varnishes. Be sure that the surface is smooth and dust free before beginning. Layer the varnish over the wood with a large paintbrush, observing for patches which, after a few moments, appear dry again and reapply more varnish to those sections. The wood will absorb all of the substance it requires, so don’t be afraid to apply too much. The use of a brush will allow a fast coating of the varnish whilst allowing it entry to the smallest scuffs and nicks. After a short period of only 10 minutes, wipe the remains away with a clean cloth, leaving the surface dry. Apply the second coat liberally, but this time use a cloth. Wipe the entire surface in the direction of the grain to ensure that it is all covered evenly without removing any of the product. Then allow to dry and harden overnight. The next day, you will be able to apply another coat if needed, using a wet-sanding method to ensure an even surface and once again, allow to dry overnight. This finish will allow a lightly scratched texture as well as a high-shine and amber-toned stain.

If you have any queries about the use of any of the finishers that we have mentioned, or any additional ones, contact our experienced team at Parsons Joinery by calling 01273 814870 where we will be happy to assist with honest and accurate guidance or by arranging an appointment to visit your property and complete the work effectively on your behalf.