Skip to content

Woodworking Wisdom: How to Select the Perfect Finish for Your Cabinets


In woodworking, the finish is the final flourish that showcases the beauty of the wood and your craftsmanship. However, choosing the right finish for your cabinets can be daunting given the myriad options available. It's not just about the look; it's also about durability and ease of application. This blog will guide you on how to select the perfect finish for your cabinets.

1. Understand Your Cabinet’s Use

The finish you choose should be able to withstand the use your cabinet will see. A kitchen cabinet, often exposed to moisture and heat, requires a different finish than a display cabinet in a living room.

2. Oil-Based Finishes

Oil-based finishes, like Danish oil or tung oil, penetrate the wood and harden it, providing a warm, natural look. They enhance the wood's grain but require regular reapplication to maintain their protective qualities.

3. Varnish

Varnishes create a durable, hard finish and are available in various sheens, from satin to glossy. They're an excellent choice for cabinets in high-use areas, like kitchens or bathrooms.

4. Lacquer

Lacquer provides a hard, durable finish that's resistant to water and alcohol, making it a good option for kitchen and bathroom cabinets. It's available in various sheens and can be sprayed on, ensuring a smooth, brushstroke-free finish.

5. Paint

Paint can offer a pop of color and a smooth, easy-to-clean surface. It's a great option if you're working with lower-grade wood or want to match your cabinets to a specific color scheme.

6. Consider Your Skills and Tools

Lastly, consider your comfort level with applying the finish. Some finishes, like spray-on lacquer, require special equipment and ventilation. Others, like paint or oil, can be applied with a simple brush.

By considering the use, appearance, and application method, you can select the perfect finish that complements your cabinet and stands the test of time.