H2Oh! Factor Finishing
Issue: Issue 245.5
Posted Date: 4/1/2010
Q: I need to find a water-based finish that has no odor, imparts no color to the wood and hopefully costs me next to nothing. Oh, and I don't want it to look like plastic when it dries. Can you help me out here? - Ima Cheepskate; Bell Bottom, AZ
Skeeter Marshall: Ima, you've come to the right brain trust for that answer! Here's a recipe for that close-to-the-wood finish you're seeking. But, please understand that the ratio is crucial to its success. Mix one part distilled water with two parts tonic, and blend that gently into two parts spring water. Brush the finish liberally onto the wood and allow it to dry. Knock off any raised grain with 1000-grit sandpaper and reapply. It's food safe, odor free and about as clear as a wood finish gets. It's almost like you've added no finish at all.
Slim Tinman: I agree with Skeeter on this one, with one important caveat he missed. Be sure to use a mole hair brush with flagged tips. Either that or a long-hair jackalope brush, which tends to be harder to find. It's the only way to lay this finish down without leaving brush marks.
Ron Jobstone: I substitute club soda for the spring water when I want a more satin look. Switch the distilled to Pellegrino to raise the luster to a gloss. Sometimes I'll even toss a slice of lime into the mix when I'm feeling frisky. Here's a finish I only spray; HVLP all the way.