Organized Finishing Shelf

Winter Shop Cleanup: Finishing Products I Keep On Hand


During #Woodchat Wednesday last week we talked a lot about what you can do with just a little shop time. Sometimes you get just a little shop time after dinner, or sometimes you’re in the shop all day waiting for glue or finish to dry and you have a short amount of time where you could be productive instead of sitting on your thumbs.

Saturday I had some time while waiting for a finish to dry so I organized my shelf of finishes.

Organized Finishing Shelf

Organized Finishing Shelf

Finishing Products I Keep On Hand

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On the far left in the back I have gallons of Denatured Alcohol and Mineral Spirits. In front of those I have my Enduro Var. In the center back, I have a collection of General Finishes Water Borne Dye Stain which is now my favorite way to add color to wood. With a fine mist you can tint, tone, and because these are compatible with Transtint Dyes you can make your own custom color.

In front of those you can see the finishing bottles I bought from Eagle America. These are great for keeping shop chemicals handy when using them in small amounts. They help a clumsy guy like me prevent spills too so I have some extras on hand in the back. They keep me from dunking dirty rags into full cans, and from the lids of my cans getting ratty.

Furniture wax and Renaissance Wax which is a microcrystalline polishing wax and is great for tools and furniture. I’ve used this with a power buffer before to bring up a shine on a glossy desktop.

I have a few Transtint Dyes which I keep on hand and really like because they are completely compatible with the General Finishes Water Borne Dye Stain. I mix these into alcohol when I’m using them solo.

On the far right I have rattle cans of Shellac and Lacquer, and quarts of Danish Oil, Boiled Linseed Oil, and Minwax Wipe On Poly which is a good wiping varnish right out of the can. You can make your own wiping varnish, but why bother when  Fine Woodworking rated the Minwax very highly.

Considerations When Organizing Your Finishes and Chemicals

  1. Safety: wear gloves and eye protection.
  2. Expiration: Many products have a shelf life, if your finish is past its shelf life, don’t use it.
  3. Mixing: don’t mix a product from one can into the other. The formulation may have changed, or the expiration dates may vary.
  4. Disposal: if you’re going to dispose of any finishes or chemicals, do so responsibly.
  5. Replacement: because of expiration dates don’t replace a supply unless you’ll need it in the near future.
  6. Storage: ideally my chemicals would be stored in a metal locker that is more suitable.

Other Finishing Supplies I Keep on Hand

This just covers the items that are on my chemical shelf, and doesn’t cover the Preval gun or the Timbermate wood filler. I keep a lot of other supplies in the shop that are related to finishing:

  • Wooden stir sticks bought at a craft store. These are essentially tongue depressors but are great for stirring chemicals or mixing up epoxy.
  • Small paper cups bought at a grocery store. These are wax free cups and are great for removing small amounts of chemicals from a can, or for mixing up epoxy.
  • Rags from the paint store. These are essential for any wipe on finish like the Minwax Wipe On Poly, and are also used for buffing wax. They can also be used for shellac, dye, and stain.
  • Respirator stored in a gallon zip bag to keep it clean. I wear this consistently (now) and I’m glad I do.
  • Spray gun tips, cleaning supplies, extra cups and finish filters.
  • Paper towels to clean up spills. Dispose of all rags properly.
  • Gloves to keep hands clean and protected.

Tip: when putting the lid back on a can, cover with a paper towel before tapping closed, this will catch any splatters.

Organizing the shelf took longer than writing this blog post. I’m really glad I took the time to go through the supplies on my shelf and get things organized. This freed up half a shelf which I now use to store my spray gun and related accessories in a sealed bin. I hope you see that in little bits of time you can get things accomplished and be productive in the shop.

After seeing my clean shelf and all the great products on hand I was inspired to do some finishing on a small gift project.

One thought on “Winter Shop Cleanup: Finishing Products I Keep On Hand

  1. Bobby Hagstrom

    Haha, that shelf looks familiar to me; I have most of the same finishes. Except those glue-bottle things. That’s pretty clever. Looks much easier to apply that way than dipping a brush or wad of rag in a can. Methinks I’ll pick me up about 4 of those.

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