Finishing quandry

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21 Jun 2022
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As a new and learning woodturner, I have just turned a small piece of yew. It is actually one of the simplest pieces I've done so far, and is just a tea light holder for someone who likes candles. I have meticulously sanded all surfaces up to 800 grit. I am extremely pleased with it as it is the smoothest piece I've ever made and has lovely contrasting light and dark areas. It is silky smooth all over, just asking to be touched and have fingers run all over it.
My query is, should I, and do I need to, apply any sort of finish to it, and if so, what would you suggest? My inexperience tells me that I am only likely to spoil the superb feel of the surface I have produced if I do anything else to it.
Try a wax, like Hampshire Sheen, gives lovely lustre on such a smooth finish you've already gotten so far.
First, yes you do need a finish. Yew is magnificent as you have discovered but if you leave it unfinished it will deteriorate over time. Moisture in the air varies and will raise the grain, dust will get into the grain. Fingerprints, bits of candle. A year or two on it will look dull and feel less smooth. So a finish.

Next question, how much will it be handled. If you use a soft wax like Chestnut 22 or the basic Hampshire Sheen, or even softer like BriWax, it will give a beautiful deep shine but if handled, especially with warm fingers, finger marks will show. Easy to polish out but not maintenance free. So what else? Something like Hampshire or Chestnut microcrystalline wax works well and is less prone to finger marks. Or Danish Oil. That wont give as deep a shine but often adds 'punch' to the colours and contrasts and has the advantage of being really easy to re coat in a few weeks, months, years.

I used to apply it then spin the lathe up and polish it straight away. If you have time you get a better result by applying, quick spin and remove excess, then leave to cure for a week or so and then spin it and polish. There is a world of diffence between oil that appears dry as in dry to the touch and oil which is cured.

There is a danger of getting tempted by all sorts, I now use spray Lacquer and Chestnut Melamine Lacquer for things that will get handled, but for what you have made I think I would lean towards Danish Oil and maybe give a thin second coat in a few weeks once the first has cured. If you do the second too soon it re-softens the first and you can get a gloopy mess. Being impatient, I know this. 😒

Chestnut products have some really good video guides on their website how to section. What you learn can be applied to other brands I'm sure.
Thank you all.
I have some Howard Wax It All Multi Purpose Wax, which is bees wax with carnauba wax and mineral oils, so I'm going to give it a try on the lovely smooth yew.
I also have some Hampshire Sheen pre thinned Cellulose Sanding Sealer, so would it be advisable to apply this prior to the wax?

Yes as you already have it. Apply quickly, it dries in seconds, either sand lightly with your 800 grit or burnish with some shavings - it really is just a quick light touch to remove any imperfections from the sanding sealer. Get rid of dust, a bit of kitchen roll will do, I use an old dry soft paintbrush and spin the lathe fairly fast. Then wax.

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