Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Hand Applied Finishes


Hand applied Finishes



Spend a weekend learning about simple, hand-applied finishes. You’ll learn the right way to prep the wood, how to choose the ideal finish for each project, and how to manipulate finishes with a variety of application tools. Finally, we’ll go over the final step that will make even simple coatings look and feel dreamy.

The class will offer discussion of technique and/or demonstrations on wide range of finishes such as drying oil, non-drying oil, Danish oil, oil varnish, oil based polyurethane, water-based lacquers, water-based polyurethanes, shellac, modified shellac (for French polishing), lacquer, and paints. If there are other types of finish you are interested in learning about, Michael can speak to those as well. 

Watch a short video from Woodworker's Journal where Michael Dresdner shares his best tips for applying a French polish, what potential problems might crop up and shows how to fix them when they do. 

Class outline

Preparation: well begun is half done

  • how to sand (by hand, with machine)
  • all about grits and sandpaper
  • grain raising
  • steaming dents and filling gouges

Choosing a topcoat: the right stuff

  • decision tree
  • cheat sheet handout

Application: “by hand and eye”

  • scrub on/wipe off vs. wipe on
  • French polish
  • brush
  • how to choose them and how to use them like a pro
  • proper preparation and maintenance
  • cleaning and re-shaping your brushes

Rubbing out: the final frontier

  • simple satin rub
  • gloss polish


No tools are required for this course.
You may consider bringing any brushes you enjoy using and wood samples you might want to try. 


There are no prerequisites for this class. 

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.
This class takes place in Building 203 at Fort Worden - not the School Building. Map
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 15
Cost: $ 250
Materials Charge: $ 25

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.