I'm making a signboard for a coffee bar. It's made from three glued together pieces of douglas fir tongue and groove floorboards that were installed in 1945.

The engraving is done and I want to keep the 75 year old oxidization and patina of the wood.

I'm thinking of using Minwax oil based clear satin wipe on polyurethane, then something water based to rub in and accentuate the edges of the engraving, followed by another coat or two of the polyurethane. Same polyurethane I'm using on the new kitchen cabinets in this old bungalow*.

Would something like black acrylic paint brushed on then wiped mostly off work for this, if allowed to completely dry before going over it with polyurethane?

*Completely ripping out the old flooring which had several layers of various types of other laid on it over the decades, partly to cover up damage from rot, carpenter ants, and powder post beetles. All insects long departed. Floor joists are 2x6 on 2 foot centers so reinforcing (sistering joists with glue, screws and 1/2" bolts plus 2x6 cross bracing and replacing beetle damaged 2x4 sill plate) is going in along with repairs to bug damaged joists. Topped with plywood, wood glue applied with a notched trowel, then particleboard. All screwed down. The parts that I've completed no longer feel like a bouncy castle. :)

On top of the T&G was tar paper, oil cloth, 1/8" masonite, real Linoleum, vinyl "linoleum", 5/8" particleboard, vinyl flooring. Previous saw tracks down into the masonite showed a previous layer of particleboard or plywood and vinyl had been removed before the 5/8" particleboard and vinyl was put in circa 1997.

  • 3
    Welcome to WSE. The paragraphs regarding the floor appear to be unrelated and are a bit confusing. I suggest that you clarify their relevance or remove them.
    – Ashlar
    Dec 18 '20 at 1:21
  • Your basic plan sounds fine, but just to check: you say a signboard, is this for the inside of the shop? Just confirming it's not an exterior application. And while I will touch on this in an Answer if nobody else adds a good one first, I would give serious consideration to selecting another varnish (with offence very much intended to Minwax). To put it bluntly, Minwax stuff is consistently at the lowest rung of the consumer-level finishes. And quite apart from that, you can make your own wipe-on poly from any standard oil-based polurethane (at significant savings) in about 2 minutes :-)
    – Graphus
    Dec 18 '20 at 7:51
  • BTW, if you haven't done a test on an offcut yet an oil-based finish will tend to change the appearance of the weathered wood quite a lot. If you wet the wood with water or MS you'll get a preview of what it'll look like with wipe-on applied. If you want to change the look of the wood less the standard choice is to use a waterbased finish, which in the best cases can make it look like there's no finish applied at all.
    – Graphus
    Dec 18 '20 at 7:55
  • So how do I use standard polyurethane as a wipe-on? This will be for an interior application in the kitchen, for hanging coffee mugs.
    – Galane
    Dec 19 '20 at 6:03
  • You dilute it, same as they do in the factory — wipe-on (AKA wiping varnish) is nothing more than standard varnish thinned down further.... and then they overcharge the buyer for the mineral spirits. But like I say, this may change the colour much more than you're looking for so it could well be not what you want to go with. And if you do decide you'll use a waterbased finish I highly recommend looking at another company's product line (General Finishes would be a good place to start) rather than Minwax.
    – Graphus
    Dec 19 '20 at 9:04

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