What is *your* preferred way to finish walnut?

Today I carved this for my father-in-law’s Father’s Day Gift this year.

It is walnut. I have googled and found various ways to finish walnut. I see these different options but don’t really know pros/cons or any other decision-making considerations.

I am curious…what is your preferred way to finish walnut and, more importantly, why? What reasons, even just personal preference, do you prefer one over another?

I don’t think I want to apply any stain as I really don’t want it any darker (and, thus, more difficult to read the words). Agree or disagree and why?

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts.



I prefer just gloss poly and several coats. I just love the look of natural walnut with poly on it. I like it even better when it has a few spots of sap wood in it. Walnut is to pretty of wood to hide it behind a color.


Spray or brush on?

For something like that i would spray it. I used to be pretty good brushing it on but have been spray for to long now and spraying turns out a way better finish.

1 Like

I used tung oil on a walnut cribbage board…I thought it turned out amazing.

I got mine from Lowe’s and they carry both a low and high gloss.


It is a personal preference and how much ware it will take. I like BLO for things that don’t need heavy duty protection, guess tung oil will work as well. It gives the wood a more natural look and feel. If you want to seal it and really protect it, lacquer, shellac or poly will work.

1 Like

Can I poly over Tung oil?

Coat with Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO) - gives the walnut such a rich deep look.

Then topcoat. That will depend on how much protection you want it to have. Could be buffed out wax top coat, shellac, varnish or poly. I can’t stand glossy so I would go with satin.

Always do a test panel to make sure it has the look you want.


You can Poly over tung oil…but if you want a pro finish every time try this. One third Tung Oil, one third Poly(I always prefer Satin) and a third mineral Turps. mix in jar and apply with cloth. after 2 coats lightly sand with 400 or finer then wipe down and give a third coat of the mixture. At the end if you want an extra touchable finish use paste wax and buff. I’ve been using this mixture on furniture for a long time now and aside from looking beautiful, it’s durable as hell.


I will have to try this.

Mineral Turps?

Mineral turpentine… We call it mineral spirits in the US. I think it’s the same stuff.

Ahh ok that I’ve heard of lol.

Just plain old turpentine. Sorry using Aussie product description here.

Image result for mineral spirits and turpentine
White spirit (UK) or mineral spirits (US, Canada), also known as mineral turpentine (AU/NZ), turpentine substitute, petroleum spirits, solvent naphtha (petroleum), Varsol, Stoddard solvent, or, generically, “paint thinner”, is a petroleum-derived clear liquid used as a common organic solvent in painting.

1 Like

That is one dusty bottle of rumpleminze


Walnut is such an open grained material. Poly sprayed or brushed will soak in and leave little pockets in the finish. it will take many coats with sanding between to get a clean finish. Could use Sanding sealer before the poly…that would help. BLO works really well for something that is just going to sit on display.

1 Like

I like satin wipe on poly. Gives a soft natural finish, while bringing out the grain. Dries quickly, and 2-3 coats will seal it up.


Walnut Danish oil really brings out the wood

1 Like

Thanks everyone for your input. The variety of options is interesting.