Flexner on Finishing: Wiping Varnish


A method of brushing onto a complex surface.
By Bob Flexner
Pages: 54-56

From the November 2010 issue # 186
Buy this issue now

Wiping varnish might be the most popular hand-applied finish used by woodworkers. It’s popular because it’s just as easy to apply as oil finishes but much more moisture, scratch, heat and solvent resistant.

You can make wiping varnish yourself by thinning any oil-based alkyd or polyurethane varnish about half with mineral spirits (paint thinner), or you can buy it from a large number of manufacturers.

Unfortunately, these manufacturers create confusion with their labeling. Most use uninformative names with the intention of making you think you’re buying something unique. The variety of names used also puts up barriers to the treatment of this fi nish as a category, similar to lacquer or water-based fi nish, with application instructions that apply to all brands.

I’ve written about wiping varnish a number of times because I believe it’s the best finish for most of those woodworkers who just want a fi nish that’s easy and foolproof, it and produces great results.

Article: Read more about Bob’s method for cleaning and storing your brushes.
To buy: Bob’s new book, “Flexner on Finishing,” is available at shopwoodworking.com.
Web site: Read more finishing articles.
Article: Read Bob’s story on applying gel varnish.


From the November 2010 issue # 186
Buy this issue now