I am looking for a high gloss, inexpensive, fast-drying finish to use on my wood turnings.
Michael Dresdner: Inexpensive is in the eye of the beholder, but the quickest and easiest high gloss finish for lathe work is French polish. That term refers to both a technique of applying shellac using a cloth pad and a type of finish. Probably the easiest way to get there is with Behlen’s Woodturner’s Finish, a French polish formulated specifically for lathe work. Don’t be too concerned about the price; you will find a little goes a very long way. Another good French polish option is to use Zinsser SealCoat right out of the container, which is probably the cheapest way, though it does take a bit more skill. Straight dewaxed shellac, which is what SealCoat is, can grab or curdle in less experienced hands. To prevent that, mix about one part mineral spirits or turpentine to five parts SealCoat to make a more user-friendly French polish. Put it in a plastic squeeze bottle and shake it every time before loading some onto a pad, since it will separate almost immediately.