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I am having a wand made and I wondered what the best finish would be. Money is not an issue, and neither is skill. I do not care about the aesthetics (color/scrapes), but need it to not come off. Im not going to be refinishing it. It would not be exposed to sun often, but may be taken outside about once or twice a year. Thus it would not experience much weather change because the house stays relatively the same temperature. However, it would be exposed to humidity and wear from hands. Can varnish wear off by rubbing? I need the strongest finish for these specifications. Any recommendations? I would need a type (example: water polyurethane) not a brand.

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    Is this related to your other question about "strong finishes"? – Doresoom Jun 11 '15 at 3:10
  • Yes, but I think that question became something that was more general. – School Is Awesome Jun 11 '15 at 3:30
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    How is it being made? Woodturners sometimes use superglue as a varnish... Any finish can wear off from handling if you handle the object long enough; the ones which resist that best are often hardest to retouch. Then again wear due to handling just makes the object look more venerable... – keshlam Jun 11 '15 at 4:32
  • I think its being whittled, but I don't really know. Is superglue a good finish for my specifications? I will not retouch it so that isn't really a problem for the ones that resist the best. What would you recommend? – School Is Awesome Jun 11 '15 at 10:06
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General point first, there is no best finish for any job because part of what constitutes 'best' is down to the taste of the individual, which is obviously highly variable.

In addition to that practical considerations come into play for the woodworker, a high-end finish that gives excellent performance might not be picked on the basis of its high cost or because of a short shelf-life (too great a potential for waste). Another reason could be simply down to an issue with application, either it's too challenging to apply well for the project at hand (e.g. superglue finish on intricate carving) or where a finish must be sprayed and there is no spray equipment available.

but need it to not come off.

Just remember that everything has a finite lifespan. No wood finish is 100% guaranteed not to fail, ever. (But see last point below.)

Can varnish wear off by rubbing?

Yes, but strong varnishes are highly wear resistant — as seen on the edges of dining tables where wear-through can take years of regular use.

I need the strongest finish for these specifications.

Perhaps you don't. Instead consider whether a finish that is easily repairable would be better, so with regular upkeep — easily done by the user, not the original woodworker — you continually restore it rather than attempting to rely on a film finish that will fail eventually (even if after many years of service).

There are two good options in this area that are widely available, relatively inexpensive and easily applied without prior experience: boiled linseed oil (often shortened to BLO) and tung oil (must be pure tung oil, not "tung oil finish" which may contain no tung oil at all).

After the initial finish is built up over a week or longer of daily applications and buffing, a couple of additional coats in the first year and one coat per year after that will maintain the finish in good condition for decades, perhaps indefinitely if upkeep is maintained.

  • But I am not going to be able to restore it. What recommendation would you make then? – School Is Awesome Jun 11 '15 at 10:08
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    @SchoolIsAwesome, my Answer to your previous question would cover that. – Graphus Jun 11 '15 at 12:13
  • What would you recommend as an alternative? I cannot find anyone willing to do marine epoxy finishes. I have tried everything, trust me. – School Is Awesome Jun 13 '15 at 0:22
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    @SchoolIsAwesome, in the context of your original question TBH I wouldn't recommend anything else, epoxy is hands-down the best choice. However, now that we know more about what you're looking to do a conversion varnish would be my next pick, but you'll find just as much difficulty in finding someone to do that for you. So really this leaves more commonplace finishes, e.g. a regular varnish (single-part varnish, without a separate activator). Polyurethane varnishes are the market leaders in most places now and are scratch-resistant, tough and durable (e.g. some are suitable for use on floors). – Graphus Jun 13 '15 at 8:54
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    I used to work in a paint store, and we sold this rock-solid 2-part epoxy varnish. We only ever sold it to one customer.. The local bowling alley. Might be expensive, but if it can take bowling balls and shoes of thousands of people, it's probably pretty damn tough. – Tom O'Connor Jun 15 '15 at 13:34
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Almost everything I turn I use Carnuba Wax, it is mixed with mineral spirits to make it softer and easier to apply, but once dried it is the hardest natural wax out there and is supposed to be hypo-allergenic. It's also easy to reapply if you feel the need.

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