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Advice - What is the best fininsh for English Oak Furniture?


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Established Member
14 Aug 2012
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Essex/Suffolk Boarder
Hi All

I am after some advice. I am building a TV Cabinet out of English Oak and I want to show the grain off to its best (You gotta just love oak :)). Anyway, I have read some of the threads and am still not sure. I was going to do Shellack the hard wax oil and then beeswax. But looking at some of the threads I am no longer sure. It needs to be tough (kids and all), but I do not in any, way shape or form want to use varnish. What ever is to be decided upon will be for the rest of the furniture that wife has on a list for me :(
I have seen mentioned the osmo stuff, never heard of it, so what is it all about and the same as the poly stuff you thin (can't remeber the name)is it good and most of all show the beauty of the wood off. Frens Polish is a no no in my house.

Any help or guidence will be most gratefully recieved.

Many thanks



Established Member
29 Apr 2012
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Lingen Herefordshire
Hi Richard,
There are many ways to finish your oak and which one you choose will depend on your level of skill. If you want an easy life and you want the oak to look it's best and to have a hard wearing finish then I would go with a hard wax oil, Osmo is one brand Fiddes do there own which is much cheaper and just as good ( though not their exterior one which is rubbish! ). To get the best out of these sand your piece down to 240g, get yourself a good quality brush, if the budget allows get a number 12 polishing mop ( squirrel or bear hair ) http://www.agwoodcare.co.uk/prod/french ... _mops.html it will cost around £30 but if you look after it you will never have to buy another or failing that a good quality painters brush ( and don't use it for anything else ). Brush on two coats and that should be it. You will have a nice satin sheen that will last and if it does get damaged or worn over time it is dead easy to spruce it up, all you will need to do is cut it back with a nylon scourer and apply one more coat.

Hope this helps.


Established Member
4 Apr 2008
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Beautiful Mid Wales
The method I used on an oak occasional table was as follows:

1. Sand the item to your desired smoothness (I went to 400 grit).

2. Apply 2 coats of Osmo Top Oil (or any other hardwax oil) in the following manner. Apply a thin coat with a brush, leave for a couple of minutes then wipe off all the excess oil with kitchen roll. Wait for at least 24 hours and apply a second coat in the same manner.

3. Once dry, (at least another 24 hours) you can either leave it as it is (satin finish), or polish it with a powered polishing mop (or mop in an electric drill) and white diamond compound for a gloss finish.

I've found this finish is remarkably durable. My table finished in this way has had hot coffee spilled on it and wiped off witha damp cloth and many cups of hot tea stood on it and hasn't marked at all. The real benefit of a hardwax oil finish is that it is easy to repair if it does suffer damage - you don't need to remove the old finish, simply apply a fresh coat.