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I just finished shaping a sword out of some pine and mahogany scraps I had lying around.

I like how it turned out, so I want to finish the bare wood in a way that will enhance its appearance and protect it. However, I have zero (0) experience finishing wood. So I would like some advice before I proceed! Please keep in mind a few things:

  1. I'd like to maintain the color contrast between the blade and hilt.
  2. I'd like to keep material quantities down since I don't know when I will next be finishing anything, and I have minimal storage space
  3. I don't have any experience, so complex techniques may be beyond me!
  4. I haven't glued any of the pieces together yet, so I can finish the blade, crossguard, handle, and pommel individually.

Photo of sword

Edit: Per suggestions below, here is some more focus: For the pine blade, I don't want to darken the color very much at all, but just add some warmth, like the boards in this photo:

Pine finish example

For the mahogany, I have my own reference. Several years ago I turned a chess piece from the same wood, and my friend had me apply a liquid finishing product while turning the piece at high speed (perhaps because the heat from friction helped it set?). The result is below, next to the sword grip. I prefer this color to some of the darker red finishes that seem common, but for the sword I would like to use a filler or something to smooth out the fibres on the surface.

Finished and unfinished mahogany

The overall finish for both parts should be satin as opposed to high gloss and match in sheen as much as possible.

  • First off, really nice job on shaping the sword. The blade shape in particular is very impressive! Now your Question, please see What types of questions should I avoid asking? in the Help Centre. As asked essentially any finish that members personally like could be given as an Answer — enhanced appearance and protection, that's basically every finish — so automatically we're in every answer is equally valid territory. Could you Search, and research to narrow the focus of the Q? – Graphus supports Monica Jul 24 at 19:28
  • Great job so far! Can you give us some clues as to what kind of final look you are going for for each part of the sword. If you do an image search on google for mahogany finish and pine finish, you will see the spectrum of what each of these woods can look like. Choose what you like and add some sample images to your question. Then we can probably help you figure out how to get there. BTW... keep whatever scraps of wood you have left from this project. They will be crucial as test material for whichever techniques you finally choose. – Henry Taylor Jul 25 at 14:38
  • Thanks for the tips! See edits above. – tjahrenholz Jul 26 at 16:51
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First I really like your craftsmanship.

A satin wipe-on oil-based poly would be the easiest, using a good shop towel or lint-free rag the oil-based poly will give the wood added warmth and a very durable finish.

A satin water-born poly will leave the colours very much as they are.

If you use a finish like Danish oil applied while sanding (use a wet/dry paper) the slurry will fill some of the voids, this works very well wile turning and giving you a nice satin finish while bringing out the colours.

  • Thank you! I think I will go the Danish oil route. I like the idea of filling the pores with slurry rather than some sort of filler product. – tjahrenholz Jul 29 at 19:08
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I like how it turned out too!! Tung Oil is a hard drying oil that brings up the natural grain in timber really well. It is usually used on timber floors. It is very hard wearing, usually with a full gloss finish. It does have a slight tint to it but will not go yellow like a lot of polyurethane finishes. Apply with a brush, small foam roller or a soft cloth that will not leave fuzzy bits.
You can use Wet & Dry sandpaper (400 - 600 grit) on the first coat while the oil is wet. This will help to embed any timber fibers into the grain, joints or blemishes. Once the first coat is dry, apply a 2nd & 3rd coat and use 800 - 1000 grit wet & dry paper while the oil is wet. This will make it super silky smooth. You can put as many coats on after this as you like to continue building up the film thickness. To finish it off, you can use very fine wet & dry (2000 - 4000) with soapy water this time or a very fine cut & polish compound just to get an even surface and then polish it all with a lambswool pad to bring out a mirror finish. I have done many jobs like this - A 22 foot long kitchen bench with 18 coats of oil, cut and polish at the end. It came out with a mirror surface like a grand piano.

  • Could you clarify exactly what you're recommending here? Pure tung oil and high gloss are not two things that are usually associated. Most of the time it's used these days it's with the deliberate intent of achieving, at most, a satin sheen. – Graphus supports Monica Jul 26 at 12:27

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