5 Best Finish for Workbench (Inspection of the Polishers)

Workbenches already get beaten up by dust, dist, and scratches. And the one simple way to protect them is by using finishes. You see, they offer great protection services against all these things.

Moreover, they seal off the paint. However, you do need the best finish for workbench to get the job done right.

And, it can be a tough job since there are so many brands to choose from. All the finishes have different ingredients serving a different purpose that you simply don’t know what works for you.

That’s where we step in. Our team has done 2 weeks of extensive research to pick the top 5 finishes. And their features will tell you why they are the best of the best.

Plus, there’s additional information about workbench finishes. So, stick around if you want to know all about them.

So, get ready. We’re about to start.

1. Rust-Oleum 242218 Danish Oil Wood Finish

At a Glance

  • Quantity: 947 ml
  • Type of finish: Oil-based polyurethane
  • Color: Natural
  • Material: Liquid
  • Dring time: 6 hours
  • Coverage area: 170 sq feet
  • Hybrid of oil and polyurethane- natural earthy finish with protection

First and foremost, let us introduce you to our favorite finish: Rust-Oleum 242218 Danish Oil Wood Finish. Now, since we have praised this finish so much let us justify why it got such an entry. Let’s look at its unique features:

For starters, we have to mention that this finishes a hybrid of oil and polyurethane. But there is a lot of oil-based polyurethane on our list. What sets this one apart?

Well, it’s cheap for an oil-based polyurethane. But that’s not all. It also dries up within 6 hours. Whereas the typical oil-based polyurethanes take somewhere between 8 to 12 hours.

So, you’ll be saving yourself quite a bit of time. And you can convert that time into productive hours and use it to make some great works on your workbench.

Other than this, the Watco oil-based finish can provide a natural earthy finish. Thus, it won’t work to artificialize your workbench. Instead, it’ll preserve the natural look and bring out the woody side of your workbench.

On top of this, the oil will slide inside the workbenches to make it more durable. And on top of that, it’ll fill up all the cracks and holes inside the wood. So, the dust and dirt won’t get a chance to settle inside the workbenches.

Plus, it also provides protection against scratches. Something that workbench owners are quite familiar with. But with this finish, those scratchy-filled days will come to an end.

Moreover, it has a low VOC. This stands for volatile organic compounds. Thus the finish won’t evaporate easily and more of the finishes will stay behind to do their magic on your workstation.

Not only this, but it’s also easy to apply. So, you don’t have to be a pro to use this finish. A beginner can work their magic with this particular finish.

But where do you use this finish?

Well, it can work on all types of indoor workbenches. This also includes wood surfaces that are bare, stripped, or sanded.

So, if you have any finishes left over after applying them on the workbenches then you can use them on other furniture. And there is a lot of furniture to choose from.

2. Liberon BBPWAP500 Black Bison Paste Wax

At a Glance

  • Quantity: 500 ml
  • Item weight: 1.15 pounds
  • Color: Neutral
  • Finish type: Wax-based finish
  • Material: Paste

Second up, we have Liberon BBPWAP500 Black Bison Paste Wax. The runner-up did put up a great fight. But it had to settle down in second place. However, this finish has some special characteristics worth checking out:

First of all, this is the only finish on our list that is wax-based. So, if you look at this in one way it’s the winner of wax-based finishes. Now, what’s so special about wax finishes.

Well, it amplifies the look of the finish, giving the wood a more lustrous look So, even though it has a more neutral color it’ll work to make your existing wood color appear more attractive.

This makes it fun to work on the workbenches. Great visual works to increase productivity, at least that’s what we believe. You see, it does this by making the timber look more fresh so it looks a bit brand new.

Hence, if you have an old workbench sitting at the back of your room you can spice it up using the wax-based finish. And put the workbench to some good use.

Besides, this wax-based finish can stop scratches from forming on the workbench. So, if you carelessly drag the tools on the workbench then it’ll work to make sure that those handy tools don’t leave their trails behind.

And it works on a lot of hardwoods. So, if your workbench is made of mahogany, maple, oak, teak, and walnut this wax will be a great match for them.

But that doesn’t mean it won’t work on softwood. They will but it just won’t be a great match for these woods.

3. ZAR 32612 Exterior Water Based polyurethane

At a Glance

  • Quantity: 946 ml
  • Basic Composition: Water-based polyurethane
  • Finish Type: Gloss Finish
  • Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Coverage Unit: 125-150 sq. ft. per quart

Moving on, we have the ZAR 32612 Exterior Water Based polyurethane finish on our hand. Now, this is the only water-based finish on our list. So, if you were keeping an eye out for a water-based product then this might be the one.

Firstly, the Zar water-based finish has a very low VOC. What’s VOC?

Well, it stands for Volatile organic compounds. Since the amount of volatile compounds in this finish is quite less they don’t evaporate easily. Hence, more parts of the finish are left behind to work on the workbench.

Plus, the odor is quite low. So, if you’re looking to apply the finish inside your house but have pets or kids who are too sensitive to smell then this is the one for you.

It won’t cloud up the house with a disturbing odor like the oil-based finishes. On top of this, the water-based finish isn’t even prone to any sort of fire hazards. That’s because the finish is non-flammable.

Now, we do know that the chances of your workplace catching fire are pretty slim. But it’s good to know that you’re safe, right?

Additionally, water-based polyurethanes provide a clear, neutral finish. That means the finish might not be as dark as the oil-based ones but you just might like it.

To be specific, this finish gives a more light amber finish. And it’s glossy, so you’ll have a nice and beautiful workbench to work on after applying this finish.

However, the best part about this finish is the fact that it dries super quickly. Unlike the oil-based finish, you won’t have to wait for hours to wait for the finish to dry up.

No sir, it’ll take you nearly 20 mins for the layers of coating to dry. Then you’re free to apply another layer if you want. In short, you’ll be done with your finishing job in one day.

So, if you’re in a hurry or you waited till the last day to get the job done and you don’t want your wife to be mad at you then go for this amazing finish.

On top of all these, after the finish dries up you can clean the surface using soap and water. Yep, it’s that easy to clean up after using this finish. So, your workbench will stay neat and tidy most of the time.

However, it won’t be that good of a shield against the scratches but hey, desperate times need some sacrifices, right?

4. Old Masters 92304 Spar Marine Varnish

At a Glance

  • Quantity: 946 ml
  • Weight: 3.17 ounces
  • Color: Satin
  • Warning: Combustible liquid

Next up, we have Old Masters 92304 Spar Marine Varnish. This is an oil-based varnish. And yes, the varnish is a type of finish. So, without wasting any more time let’s dig into its unique features, shall we?

Well, the most amazing thing about this finish is that it offers UV protection. That means it’ll be a great pair for your outdoor workbenches.

So, if you want to take your workbench outside of the house for some natural air you can now do so. Because you’ll be able to reside in peace knowing that your wood is protected from the sun.

Plus this finish provides a satin look. Hence, you get to enjoy a delightful luster that is often described as appearing velvety. This gives a semi-gloss and it looks quite good on a workbench.

Moreover, the Old Masters 92304 spar marine varnish is oil-based. Thus t can provide resistance against scratches and dirt. Thus if you do some heavy work on your workbench you can count on the finish to have your back.

Plus, it can penetrate deep into the workbench and work in order to make the table more durable. As it provides such great deals there’s bound to be some drawbacks, right?

Well, the only problem is that oil-based finishes take a long time to dry. So, you’ll have to wait for 8 to 12 hours before the finish fully dries up and is ready for a brand new layer of coating.

Apart from this, the Old Master’s finish can be a bit expensive. But this is a premium graded product and it offers a lot on the table. So, if you’re not in a budget-saving mode then you can definitely go for this finish.

5. Mohawk Rockhard Table Varnish

At a Glance

  • Quantity: 946 ml
  • Weight: 2.52 pounds
  • Color: Clear satin
  • Finish: Oil-based finish

Lastly, we have another oil-based varnish on our list. And it’s called the Mohawk Rockhard table varnish. Well, since we have one more similar product then let’s look at its features so see what’s great about it.

The very first difference is that this product is made for interior use. They have not customized more outer spaces. That’s because it misses the UV protection needed for protection against the sun.

However. This varnish is also oil-based. Thus you also get protection from scratches and dirt. Plus the oil can seep right inside the wood and provide durability against the workbench.

Additionally, it provides protection against all sorts of liquid. Hence, if you spill any oil or some grease on top of your workbench you’ll be able to clean it off easily and it’s all thanks to this finish.

But applying this finish is a bit hard. The finishes come off as uneven. So, it’s not for beginners. Hence, you either need to be a pro or you have to practice a bit to get the hang of this finish.

However, it’s worth it because it provides service for a long time. So, if you were impressed by the previous product on our list but wanted something like that for your indoors then this is the one for you.

Nonetheless, great deals come with a bit of a hassle. And the hassle for this product is that you have to wait for hours for it to dry up. But the end result will be satisfying.

Wood Finishing Methods

best finish for workbench

You might have gone through a few finishing methods yourself. But if you strictly want to generalize the method then you have only two choices in front of you.

One is the surface finishing and the other one is the penetrating finishing. Let’s hear about them in more detail to have a clearer idea of what they are:

1. Surface Finishing

As the name suggests, surface finishing is a type of finishing method where the finish doesn’t penetrate the wood. Instead, you only focus on the outer part and work to make it look appealing.

However, this simply adds to the beauty. It doesn’t provide extra protection. Thus it’s not the type of finishing preferred for a workbench.

2. Penetrating Finishing

The other finishing is called penetrating finishing. As you might have guessed already, this type of finishing goes deep into the wood. This makes the wood more durable.

You see, in this type of finishing mostly oil furnishes are used that can slip through the pores of the wood. And then they work to make the wood more long-lasting. However, this doesn’t make the wood look super attractive.

Nonetheless, durability and long-lasting capabilities are required for a workbench. So, this is the type of finishing you should opt for.

Types of Wood Finishes for Workbenches

Since the methods are out of the way we can talk about the type of wood finishes required for workbenches. Now, if you search the market you’ll get bombarded with so many finishes.

It can come to the point where it becomes frustrating to pick a product. So, here’s a list of finishes that are alright for workbenches.

1. Rub-in Oils

Many people stick to oil when it comes to finishing a workbench. It’s been a favorite pick for men since the beginning of workbenches.

Now, when you’re talking about rub-in-oils there is mainly two oil that pops up. One is the tung oil and the other one is known as linseed oil.

These are both non-drying oil. And we pick non-drying oil over-drying ones because they stay in liquid form. Making them easy to penetrate the wood.

However, if they are used in their raw form it can take a long time to cure. That’s because they tend to be too thick. Thus, we recommend that you boil the oil before use.

This way, they will be thin enough to seep right into the rood and make it translucent. 

2. Varnish

Another type of finish is called varnish. Now, people might assume that it’s something of a whole different kind but we assure you it’s a type of finish.

It’s typically oil-based. However, it contains synthetic resins like urethane, alkyd, and phenolic compounds.

The varnishes are a top pick for a lot of people because they provide toughness and durability. This is a quite necessary trait for a workbench.

Plus, it gives a range of finishes. You can get a glossy finish or even a satin finish.

But the best part is you can apply multiple layers of varnish. And in this way, you get extra layers for added protection. However, it requires quite a bit of skill to apply varnish. So, if you’re not a pro don’t go with this type of finishing.

They are usually applied on unpainted wood. And once they dry up they tend to make a hard but transparent layer on the surface of the wood.

3. Oil-Varnish Blends

Another type of finish for the workbenches out there is the oil-varnish blend. Now, these are quite easy to apply. Also, they have extra resins for more durability.

In fact, these blends have different dyes and pigments that create various textures and colors. However, it tends to be risky. Because due to the various options you might not always get the right results.

So, we suggest that you test it in a small place before applying it all over your workbench. In this way, you get to have a small glimpse of the entire project. And if you don’t like what you see then you can always change it.

4. Wax

One more option is wax. This typically acts on the surface. So, if you want to hide all the scratches and imperfections then waxes are the way to do it.

They are applied on surfaces that already have an existing finish. So, if you applied varnish all over the surface you can go ahead and apply wax on top of them.

Moreover, waxes can provide protection against scratches and water damage. And that’s something to look forward to from a workbench.

5. Wood Preserver

Lastly, we have the wood preserver. It doesn’t enhance the beauty of the workbenches but it’ll definitely protect your workplace from scratches and water spills.

Plus, they offer protection against termites and woodworms. So, you have a big problem in your house then this is a good choice for you all.

Classification of Wood Finishes (Basic Formula)

Now, you might have heard whispers of oil-based finish or even water-based finish. And they might have riddled your mind for years. But it’s time we address these issues.

Generally, there are 3 types of finishes. They are oil-based, water-based, and wax-based finishes. And what are they good for?

Well, let’s find out-

Oil-based Finishes

The advantages of oil-based finishes are:

  • It repairs the inner part of the wood by penetrating it
  • Can fill cracks and defects
  • It has the power to restore the original color of the wood

Water-based finishes

From water-based finishes you get the following advantages:

  • It dries super quick
  • It doesn’t have a bad odor
  • Low VOC means it won’t evaporator easily
  • Gives you a lot of appearance options

Wax-based Finishes

A wax-based finish has its own set of advantages. And here they are-

  • It works on all kinds of hardwood
  • It amplifies the finishing look
  • It provides protection against scratches
  • It makes timber look fresh

Factors that Affect Drying Time for Workbench Finishes

When it comes to letting the workbench finish drying up it takes some time. And it can be such a darg to wait around for that long. Well, if you have your workbench on drying mode then have a read of this section.

It’ll tell you all the factors that can affect the drying time for a workbench finish. Now, if you’re ready we can start-

Reason 1: Temperature and Humidity

No matter what finish you pick you’ll ultimately have to depend on temperature and humidity. They have large leverage over your drying time.

Typically the finishes dry at normal room temperature. To be more specific, try to keep the temperature somewhere around 70 degrees and the humidity range should be near about 70%.

Other than this, a more prominent difference will result in an increase in the drying time. Hence, don’t do it on an extremely hot or cold day.

Reason 2: The Type of Finish

Naturally, the drying time will depend on what type of finish you’re using. But the problem is different finishes have different drying times.

So, generally speaking, the oil-based finishes take longer to dry. In fact, they can take anywhere between 8 to 12 hours. Whereas a water-based finish dries up pretty fast. In fact, they can take only one hour.

Now, if you’re switching from oil-based finish to water-based finish between coatings then you have to wait for 24 hours. Otherwise, the finishes won’t fully dry up and it’ll get quite sticky.

Reason 3: The Surface

A lot of things will depend on the surface you’re working with. For starters, if you have a fresh raw workbench then it won’t take much time for the finish to dry up.

However, if there’s a pre-existing layer of finish then the surface will take a longer time to dry. So, if you are re-finishing your workbench have some patience.

Reason 4: Applications methods

Lastly, the application method plays a big part in the drying time. Now, if you’re painting on the finish of your lovely workbench then it’ll take a bit more time to dry.

However, if you’re planning on spraying or applying and wiping off the finish then it’ll be slightly less time-consuming.

How to Clean Workbench Tops

The workbenches get bombarded with dust, oil, iron fillings, harsh tool scratches all day. So, to keep the workstations in top-notch conditions you have to clean them up occasionally.

You see, only applying finishes won’t fully help with the problem. You’ll have to dig deep and actually work on the workbench to keep them in healthy conditions.

For this, you have to boil linseed oil or polymerized tung oil and wipe the workbench top. Then dip a rag in it. Then press the wet rag all over the workbench. Especially on the places that have debris on them.

Then use a stiff-bristled brush and wipe the threads on the vise screw(s). Try using dry graphite lube to keep the threads working. Alternatively, use can beeswax, paste silicone, or wax to lubricate those threads.

Tips for Finishing Wood

We have a few additional tips to add on top of all the info. So, if you decide to finish the workbench use these tips to get the best finishing results. Here are the tips-

  • Clean the surface using tack clothes before applying finishes
  • Stir the finishes before using them
  • Apply finishes in the direction of the grain
  • Use the tip of the brush to avoid brush marks

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions: How do I protect my workbench top?

Answers: Use boiled linseed oil over the workbench. They will seep deep into the wood and make them more durable. It’ll make the workbench top look brand new even amidst the dust and dirt.

Questions: Should I put a finish on my workbench?

Answers: Workbenches face a lot of dust, dirt, and scratches all day. So they become susceptible to losing paints from the workbench. That’s where finish comes in. They stop the paints from chipping off and from exposing the workbench to all kinds of dirt.

Questions: What wood is best for a workbench top?

Answers: There are a number of woods that are good for workbenches. Among them, the top contestants are- Pinewood, Maple, Douglas Fir, Teak, Plywood, and MDF.

Questions: How thick should my workbench top be?

Answers: A proper workbench has to be 3 inches deep. Otherwise, it won’t be able to handle the weight of the heavy machines and tools.

To Sum Up

Alright, that’s all that we had on the best finish for workbench. We hope you have found your desired finish by now. And if you did do apply them and tell us how it went.

May no disaster strike your path. Be careful, be safe. And we’ll see you on our next blog. Till then, adios!

Kevin Smith

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