You don't have to be confused by the world of varnish. In this video, professional finisher Peter Gedrys explains the differences between most oil-based varnishes to help you make better decisions when choosing a varnish for your next woodworking project. This video is a sidebar to a five-part video series. Find links to the full video series below.

Here, Gedrys explains how varnish is made up of oil and resin blended in different proportions and categorized by “oil length.” Varnishes fall into the categories of short, medium, or long oil, as well as a rubbing varnish. But they're also known under names such as spar, gym seal, and bar top. Discover the differences between these varieties in this excerpt from our series on refinishing furniture.

Expert finisher Peter Gedrys, of East Haddam, Conn. guides you through all the steps of refinishing furniture from stripping an old finish to putting the final touches on a new one. Also, become a member and chat with Gedrys about your finishing problems in Ask The Experts.


Remove an Old Finish

Step One: Stripping the Old Finish 
Learn the best ways to remove a finish, safely

Prepping the surface



Step Two: Surface Preparation 
How to create a smooth and clean surface, thwarting headaches down the road

Coloring with Shellac


Step Three: Sealing and Coloring with Shellac 
Professional techniques for sealing and coloring wood. A shellac pad helps you lay down smooth, thin layers. See how to make one in a short video sidebar.

Armor of Varnish


Step Four: Simple Techniques for Applying Varnish 
Varnish is the perfect topcoat to repel moisture and alcohol. To learn how different varnishes compare, watch this short video sidebar.

Build a Round Table


Step Five: Rubbing Out the Finish 
Take your finish to the next level with the often-skipped rubbing-out process