Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Traditional Finishing


Traditional Finishing



Finishing protects and enhances a piece of furniture. Many contemporary finishes emphasise the convenience of application but, at least to me, do not bring out the beauty of the grain as completely as skillfully-applied, traditional finishes.




Class Description

  • We'll start by looking at the virtues and limitations of different finishes.
  • We'll delve into the chemistry of finishes (it's simpler than you think) so you will understand how to choose an appropriate finish.
  • You'll learn how to prepare wood with planes, scrapers and sandpaper. We'll work with a bunch of different woods so that you can see how different finishes work with different grains.
  • You'll learn how to prepare and use shellac from flakes and buttons. How to safely and quickly use a range of oil finishes including tung oil and linseed oil.
  • We'll look at what makes a finish food safe.
  • Varnishing is a time honoured way of protecting wood, but getting a good even finish takes skill and good preparation.
  • We'll touch on refinishing and how to restore damaged pieces.
  • I'll introduce the use of stains and dyes.
  • You'll learn how to mix different different finishes intended to add more character like ebonizing and the effects achieved from applying multiple layers of milk paint.

No prior experience needed. You will need to wear old clothes for the inevitable spills and splashes.


Please wear old clothes that you don't mind getting splashed or spilled on.


There are no prerequisites for this class.

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00 am on the first day.
This class takes place in the Goddard College Building #298 in Schoolroom J. Map
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 15
Cost: $200
Materials Charge: $40 (includes a cabinet scraper)

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.