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What’s a Great Wood Finish for Dark Woods?

I made a hexagonal wine rack out of a dark exotic wood called Granadillo. 
Then I gave it a satin sheen clear finish.

What are the Basics of Picking a Wood Finish?

I usually start by answering a few questions about my project before making a decision, and maybe this will help you too:

  1. How do I want (or need) to apply it?
  2. How fast do I want to get it done?
  3. Does it need special protection for any reason?
  4. What sheen do I want?

Once I answered those questions for this hexagonal wine rack project, I landed on sealer coat of dewaxed shellac followed up with 3 coats of aerosol satin lacquer.

Why did I choose that? Have a seat, let’s discuss. 

First, I tested several finishes on a some sample boards. Tung oil, polyurethane, water based urethane, lacquer, and shellac.

You know what I found?

Hardly. Any. Difference. At. All.

The appearance of the dark, earthy-red granadillo tones looked nearly identical with any finish. That took care of that. 

Second, I’ve grown accustomed to using a light coat of dewaxed shellac as the first layer of finish before applying a lacquer or urethane. In the video I make the point that a light coat of dewaxed shellac dries super fast and sands smooth within seconds – I like that, I’ve used it a lot, I’m a creature of habit, so I continue to choose that as my first coat of finish. 

It’s as simple as that, no secret knowledge or magic. It’s just a choice. 

Third, aerosol lacquer seemed like a fine choice to answer the 4 questions above. Applying a finish to the hexagon wine rack by spraying made the most sense because it has a lot of tight spaces and a details – spray application makes quick work of it.

Likewise, a coat of lacquer dries within 30 minutes, so building up 3 coats only takes a couple hours. So, arguably it’s a handy finish to use when you’re in a hurry. 

Fourth, I like a satin sheen – especially on these graceful, dark woods with an epicurean bent.

There you go, folks. That’s the rhyme, that’s the reason. 

Watch the video above to follow along with each step of the way, post your questions below. 


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Vice President of Operations – Woodworkers Source
We’re a family-owned lumber & woodworking supply retailer with 3 delightful stores in Arizona, and 35 friendly employees.
Mark oversees the company and creates tutorials on wood finishing and woodworking tips for hardwood lumber.

Woodworkers Source is a division of MacBeath Hardwood Co.

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