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With so many of our DIY projects, having a wood finishing component, we have partnered with Paul Moore @ WoodWork Boss to bring you a few tips as well as the necessary tool list to begin your very own wood work projects.  Check out his site at https://woodworkboss.com/ for more useful woodworking info!


Solid Wood Finishing Tips for Newbie Woodworking Enthusiasts


All that's needed for beginners to start their first wood finishing project is patience, a good eye for matching wood finishes to the style of the wood item and a good set of tools. 

Start Wood Finishing with a Small Project

It's always easier for beginners to start wood finishing with a smaller size project before tackling bigger items. For example, a wood finishing beginner might choose photo frames, clocks or lamp bases. 

The first tip to find items for beginner wood finishing project is to look for wood that needs a bit of sprucing. Often, these are pieces found in second hand shops, flea markets and garage sales. 

To start, choose flat wood items rather than those with a lot of decorative wood turnings. Flat wood pieces can be done quickly and if you make a mistake, they are quite forgiving of streaks and bare or rough spots left behind. 

Tools for Beginner Wood Finishing

A basic set of wood finishing tools should include:

  • A set of scrapers in various widths
  • Sanding paper in fine and coarse grades
  • Wood paste to cover nicked and gouged wood
  • Ox hair and foam brushes
  • Applicators 
  • Grain filler spreaders
  • Buffers and polishers
  • Finishing dyes and stains and color wheel to match colors to wood grain 
  • Cleaners and waxes
  • A shop vacuum and dust collector

Beginners may not need all of the tools to start their first project. The tools that are required depend on the item to be finished. 

In some cases, a beginner may choose “refinishing” a small table. This would require sanding paper or liquid lacquer or varnish remover before finishing with dyes or stains. If the table has a few nicks and gouges, fill these with wood paste and use a fine grain sandpaper to create a smooth surface. 

Wood Finishing for Bigger Projects for Beginners

There's nothing more useful than wood finishing interior and exterior wood doors. Wood is durable when it is properly finished and adds value to a home or property. Beginners who choose to finish doors need a set of wooden shop "horses" to make large pieces less cumbersome. Shop horses are also a good project for wood finishing for beginners. 

Check the absorbency of wood to be stained. This helps determine the type of technique used to apply dye or stain. 

Place the door atop the horses and use fine grain sanding paper to smooth away rough spots.

If the wood is porous, you may want to consider using a foam brush. Brush in one direction only. Use an ox hair brush for less absorbent wood. If there are tiny nooks and crannies, use a foam brush to get into these smaller spaces. 

Another stain and dye technique is known as "antiquing" and is done by using only a clean, soft rag to apply stains and dyes to wood. 

Moving On to Other Beginner Wood Finishing Projects

When finishing children's wooden toys, make sure all rough spots are smooth to the touch. One tip to ensure this is to cut a leg from pantyhose and run it across the wood surface. If it doesn't snag, the wood is ready to be dyed or stained. 

The other word of caution when wood finishing children's toys is to check the safety labels of all of the products used in the wood finishing process. Beginners can find a lot of videos online to finish wooden toys for children, as well as sources of child safe supplies. 

Among the most popular items for beginner wood finishing projects are rocking chairs, summer and antique furniture and children's toys.

Once beginners find enjoyment and satisfaction from their first wood finished piece, they invariably realize they can advance to the next level and try their hand at more complex wood finishing projects.


July 19, 2017 by Bonnie DiCocco

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