My latest project is out of butternut. It is a piece that won’t get too much wear and tear but I want to protect it as much as possible. The wood is living up to its reputation of being easily dented.
Can you give me your opinion on my plan for finishing and answer several questions?
My plan is to use Behlen’s Rockhard finish. I can’t use shellac because it is likely to get a wine glass or two left on the surface. I picked Behlen’s because it appears to be a shorter-oil finish than Waterlox or Watco (which on a test of 4 coats didn’t appear to give sufficient protection). I have done a test with Waterlox (leftover from the previous project) to test the color change caused by the varnish. I like the warmth that the varnish is giving the wood. I will rub out the finish to a a semi-glass. I don’t plan on filling the pores other than what will happen when I sand between coats.
My questions are:
1) Is Behlen’s the right varnish to use? You seem to recommend it for applications where there is significant wear. I was hoping that it would better protect the wood from denting. I don’t have spraying capabilities.
2) You recommend a wash of shellac in a couple of your postings. However, you didn’t give a reason for that. Butternut has a habit of fuzzing. Will the shellac help control that?
3) On the brushes, I get very conflicting advice. You have written that a foam brush is sufficient but others advocate a very expensive brush. I have a lot of corners and crevices. I am concerned that the foam brush will cause pooling and bubbles when I try to work it into the corners.
4) Thinning. A couple of sources recommend cutting the first two coats of varnish (first by 50%, second by 25%). What does this help with?
Thanks for your time and advice.