Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finish for workbenches

There are a number of opinions regarding the appropriate finish to put on workbenches.  The main alternatives recommended seem to be:

  1. No finish
  2. Watco Danish Oil
  3. boiled linseed oil
  4. wax
  5. A mixture of turpentine, beeswax and boiled linseed oil
  6. Waterlox
  7. a mixture of spar varnish, mineral spirits and boiled linseed oil.
I chose 7, in part because I had the ingredients on hand and in part because I thought it would provide the best protection for the bench.  This is what Lie Nielsen uses on their benches.  My main concern was that it would make the surface slippery and interfere with workholding.  I avoided polyurethane varnish for that reason.  I applied one thick coat and am happy to report that it worked well.  With my eyes closed, I cannot tell the difference between a bare surface and a surface that this mixture has been applied to.  It is not slippery.   I will not be waxing it.

As you can tell from the picture below, the finish produced an amber tint on the douglas fir and really brought out the color differences that were present in the wood.  The picture was taken right after the finish was applied and the sheen has since disappeared.

I'm happy with the choice so far.  We'll see how it holds up. 


  1. Wow.. that's a very impressive bench. My bench is OK, but I'm definitely bookmarking your site for when I'm looking to update...

    Excellent work!

  2. Finish looks great on the workbench. Mind telling what ratios to mix the ingredients? I'd like to use the same finish on my bench.

  3. I used equal parts of each and am happy with the result.

  4. Thx for the opinion on the finish. I might go with the same based on your results. I generally like that recipe, but was thinking of straight oil for my workbench (no film). But maybe a touch of film (one thinned coat) would be OK like you said ;)