Finishing wood parts after laser / CNC

That sign has beautiful paint job. How did you do it?
My paint jobs always end up looking like c**p.

@j4zzcat Thank you very much.
The super crisp edges on the paint come from utilizing stencil vinyl. I digitally design my projects, then use a vinyl cutter to create stencils. It’s been a fun adventure to move towards more digital art :smiley: For more intricate signs this might mean several layers but for a simple one it might only take one:

These designs will translate over to the laser/CNC so that will likely get incorporated into some of these in the future but I don’t have the size limitations of A350 with vinyl so it’s nice to have both.


Do you apply a finish to the piece before you apply stencil & paint? Or does the stencil vinyl create those sharp of edges even on bare wood?


Provided the wood surface is smooth you can do bare wood, both of the signs in this thread were well sanded and stenciled on the bare wood. If you want a stain you would apply that first, then allow it to dry fully. The tricky part here is that to ensure the stencil sticks once you stain, in the couple stain tests I have done oil based stains need a bit more time (still experimenting). In addition, how you peel the stencil material off will matter too, you want to go very slow and don’t want to follow the grain as it will be more likely to pull wood with it.

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I use natural finish most of the time, like bee wax or linseed oil. Even on our sailboat, I use linseed oil. The way to apply it is the secret. You can also add tint to your oil or wax depending on the finish you want. Be careful about branding like teak oil… There is no such thing as teak oil, it’s a variant of linseed oil with UV, tint, and other additive or

In both cases let the product penetrate and dry between each finish, I usually but at least 3 coat for inside and more than 5 for outside… When it’s dry you can also polish them.

For a project that needs lots of protection, I will go with an epoxy finish.


Great answers! I read through and think a good flowchart would be applicable. I’ve used epoxy/resin for wood and it’s great protection and water-resistant.


I agree with the idea of a chart, but based on the complex answers above it sounds more like some sort of “spider chart” to encompass the various trade-offs…

The beauty of the internet is there are nearly unlimited resources to read:

Boiling the vast amount of information down to a simple flowchart is nigh impossible. Each one of these sites, as well as Wood Magazine, Woodcraft Supply, and others can be a jumping in point for tons more information.

For example, in that Paul Sellers blog he notes there’s at least 3 different ways to apply a Shellac, with varying skill level required vs the quality of finish.


What I have learnt about finishing from many years reading woodworking forums…

Make test pieces or samples. Use the same finish, same protocol, application, number of layers etc, on the same material as your project (usually an offcut). Keep the samples for future reference, along with accompanying notes. (This goes without saying, as most hobby woodworkers are pathological hoarders)

If you use linseed oil (or any other type) which has been modified with added driers to speed up the drying time, you MUST dispose of the rags properly as they can and have been known to spontaneously ignite.

Stick to a small number of products and learn how to apply them best to your range of work. I have a bunch of different finishes in my workshop. A couple of them I use regularly. The others have been used very little, and will probably be past their best the next time they are needed.

In the UK, Chestnut Finishes have a really great range of products which cover most requirements. They have really good data sheets, clearly show which ones are food AND toy safe. The paints are awesome. They are a small family run company and provide top notch customer support. Highly recommend them.