I was gonna write this post in conjunction with the ‘before and after’ reveal of Charlotte’s new table (which was going to have a natural timber finish), though I kinda changed my mind about the look I was going for there, so instead I decided to write it with a more general focus (I’m still working on Charlotte’s table so will share it in an upcoming post).

Of course there are endless ways to approach timber finishes, this is simply one of my common methods. It’s a process I use often because 1) it produces good results, and 2) it is pretty fast and super easy.

It’s how I finished all these pieces…

How to Stain and Seal Wooden Furniture

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It’s a simple process which can be broken into three basic steps…

How To Finish Timber Furniture

The amount of preparatory work needed will depend on the particular piece you are working with (new/old) and the type of look you want to achieve (rustic/clean).
Some items will require paint stripper (there are loads of different paint strippers available – always read the manufacturer’s instructions and, if possible, choose something natural) or heavy sanding (I usually use a belt sander, palm sander or sanding block – or a combination of all three), other pieces may simply need a good rub with steel wool.
Ideally, timber should be uniformly smooth and raw for the penetrating stain to look consistent, though for a more rustic, uneven appearance some residual stain or varnish is usually okay.
Remove any dust and grime prior to staining by wiping the timber with a clean cloth dampened with methylated spirits.

Timber stain is a penetrating tint available with either an oil or water base, and in a myriad of different colours. I don’t personally find there’s much difference between oil and water based varieties, and usually just use whatever I have on hand. One of my favourite colours is Walnut, which I sometimes blend with black for a rich, dark hue.
Of course, refer to the manufacturer’s notes of your particular stain for precise application directions, though as a general guide; I usually apply stain by sweeping a dipped cloth in the direction of the timber grain, then, if necessary, sweeping again with a clean cloth to remove any excess. I keep strokes long and continuous to avoid uneven colouration (short, stuttered strokes can leave noticeable ‘lines’). I apply as many coats as necessary to achieve my desired depth of tone, allowing drying time between applications.
Keep in mind that the colour of your timber substrate may effect the hue of the stain and that your seal coat may enrich any dullness.

Danish oil (also know as Scandinavian oil) is a blend of oil (usually tung or linseed) and varnish. Unlike oil it is hard drying, long lasting and durable. Unlike varnish it is super easy to apply and produces a natural, mellow sheen, rather than a glossy shine. It is one of my absolute favourite sealers. I first mentioned it on my blog a few years back (in one of my very early posts) and received a surprisingly appreciate response from many of my readers who, after having tried it, were super glad to have been introduced to it!
Of course, refer to the manufacturer’s notes of your particular oil for precise application directions, though as a general guide; I usually apply Danish oil with a brush or cloth in long continuous strokes in the direction of the timber grain. Around twenty minutes following application, if necessary, I wipe off any excess with a clean cloth (thick coats can look quite glossy). I usually apply around two – three coats, allowing ample drying time between applications.


Hopefully this post has been helpful or enlightening for some of you guys :-) And next time I actually finish a piece using this method I’ll be sure to write a detailed tutorial with photos.
At the mo’ I’m still slowly chipping away at Charlotte’s room and will try to publish a progress post next week!