Finishing Lies


  1. Covers in one coat
  2. Protects from inside the wood
  3. Stain and polyurethane in one step
  4. No harsh fumes – strips multiple layers
  5. Danish Oil (ask the Danes about this finish)
  6. Spar varnish – exceptional protection from sunlight, rain & moisture
  7. You must finish both sides of a panel
  8. Perfect results every time
  9. No-fail finish
  10. No need to sand between coats.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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36 Responses to Finishing Lies

  1. I always wondered every time I read these things on the instructions. Now I can sleep better at night.

  2. kfreyermuth2014 says:

    Rates right up there with the three biggest lies in the world:

    1. The check is in the mail.
    2. Of course I’ll respect you tomorrow morning.
    3. I’m from Human Resources, and I’m here to help you.

    • bloksav says:

      The No 3 lie is fantastic.
      It is close to this one:
      “The government has no intentions of raising the taxes”

    • joefromoklahoma says:

      We were taught as apprentices that the three biggest lies of carpentry were:
      The check in in the mail.
      The truck just left the yard.
      If you’ll make the winter on the form-work; we’ll keep you on for the trim.

      Just sayin’

    • Mark Baker says:

      Answers to: #1 = came postage due and postage = more then check
      #2 = tomorrow never comes
      #3 = in order to be used , you need to fit in , so change your whole propose and become a resource

  3. ziggy says:

    Ever use this stuff? I’ve finished several floors with it and I do like it. It’s no magic bullet but it hits a sweet spot for lack of toxicity, ease of use, appearance.

    • Hi Z,

      I’ve test compared this product to some extent, (floor, cleaners, soaps, etc) and won’t recommend it over Heritage Finishes and/or blending my own finishes…Look at the comparatives for most of their product line with what Heritage Finishes produces and/or blending your own finishes, cleaners, etc….

      Food for thought,


  4. kendewitt608 says:

    A great ode to the truth in labels !

  5. You forgot, “feeds the wood/finish”

  6. I love this and had the same list I give clients or share with folks making claims about today’s modern finishes…plus one more that Michael Edelman just shared about “….feeds the wood and/or older finishes…”

    • Back in the 1970s House of Denmark sold a lot of “lemon oil” (lemon scented mineral oil) that their sales staff solemnly told customers was needed to feed the finish of their lacquer sprayed furniture.

  7. Slicker than a used car or insurance salesman ! They are “covering” all the bases !

  8. karlfife says:

    …and the lie we tell ourselves:
    I’ll just fix that [run/sag/bug/schmutz] in the wet finish with my finger right quick.

  9. Niels Cosman says:


  10. seawolfe2013 says:

    You obviously are not a finish marketing rep. How exactly would you sell a finish if you had to tell folks all the inbetween stuff. Between the final assembly and the perfectably finished masterpiece. Finishing is another skill set that should be mastered or at least considered. I know some exstordinary jointers that have someone else apply finish to their projects.

  11. jtolpin says:

    I think trees have already worked out the best finish/covering for wood.

    • That comment makes it worth noting that some of the oldest piece of furniture (and Timber Frame buildings) in the world have…zero…finishes applied at all on them…

      Some of these are over 2000 years old and still in use. I have seen beautiful Zelkova (ie. Elm) floors, stairs, Cabinets, etc. with no finish at all. Even these woods exposed to the exterior of buildings like Japanese 縁側 (Engawa) can take on this luster without finishes applied that have a glowing luster on them that looks like a deep oil or wax polish finish and there is nothing on them but a planned surface, time passing, and the touch of human hands and feet…which does impart Sebaceous Oils one of the finest (and rarest) of wood finishing oil methods…

  12. Mark Baker says:

    We can all Dream …

  13. Luke Maddux says:

    Can you elaborate on the “Danish Oil” lie? Are you just implying that the nomenclature is misplaced and it is in no way associated with Denmark? Or is it a lie that it’s a finish worth using? I actually quite like Danish Oil in lieu of Shellac for clients (or girlfriends…) who prefer softer or more satin finishes, but I can concur that it’s really just a name more than some kind of consistent blend. I’ve seen it range from tequila to maple syrup in consistency…

    • “Danish Oil” is a lie in several ways.

      It is no way related to a tradition originating in Denmark. It is, instead, a misnomer for several other finishes that have been around a long time. Products labeled Danish oil can be:

      1. An oil/varnish blend
      2. A thinned wiping varnish
      3. A blend of oil, varnish and mineral spirits.

      All three finishes are useful. But calling a finish Danish Oil doesn’t tell you what it is or where it came from. It’s just marketing.

      • admiralbumblebee says:

        I’ve always just assumed that it was created by some Pakistani finishing genius named Danish, and we’ve been pronouncing the name wrong all this time.

    • jwatriss says:

      Linseed oil… Extracted from linseed.
      Tung oil… From the nut of the Tung tree.
      Olive oil, extracted by pressing (crushing) olives.
      Danish oil? Not made from Danish. (The pastry, or the people.)

  14. misterlinn says:

    Slap on whatever’s left over in your cupboard and be done with it. What could possibly go wrong?

  15. josef1henri says:

    You covered all the bases for wood. For steel there’s another one “stops rust”. lol

  16. John Carter says:

    Could you elaborate on #7? I’ve always been taught to at least seal both sides, if possible.

    • Hello John,
      If I may, I would add, that much of what is said about woodworking in general today is not based on historical reflected methods. It seems more out of repeated “advertising” for something that, in turn, grew out of the Industrial Revolution’s boon to Capitalism and Consumers…not good (or practical) in means, methods and material application.

      Additional, as an example, the oldest furnishings and buildings in the world, made of wood, have no finished at all on them…Only the sheared surface left by sharp tools…

      In some applications, treating both sides perhaps has merit, yet I don’t believe it could be called a necessity?



      • Mark Baker says:

        Hey Jay ,what do you say ?
        On #7 : if this isn’t true , then they must have had A/C back before in all home & offices , but today since A/C is in most places[accept here in Hawaii[[since its already prefect]]and the humid air of summer is so different then the desert heated air of winter that in the upper 48 have ]so they didn’t need to compensate for moisture exspanation and shrink from changes in the season .

        • I love posts like these Mark…because almost daily, in my line of work, I get from some “expert” (of modern woodworking that is) that something I am doing is wrong, or can’t be done…

          Some of the most common comments are on finishes, and of course the next being…”hey you can’t use green wood to do that…” or…”You know Jay, that can only be done with kiln dried wood…”

          This list just keeps getting more common each year, and with each year I laugh even louder as I get older…

          • Mark Baker says:

            on a tech note , I made for the company a solar wood kilm that used only cost $10 a month to run and the wood came out better then the $3,ooo per month kilm it replaced .

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