Modern technology provides one alternative. You will find cans of so-called "oil finishes" at your hardware store. These are finishes which go on in one coat, require no more maintenance than any varnish finish, and yet give you the rich look of the hand-rubbed oil finish. Check the store shelves. Each brand has its own method of application, so read the label carefully and follow directions exactly. The modern one-coat oil finishes offer advantages over the classic method — they are less sticky, more durable and attract less dust. Their appearance provides a close imitation. But you have to face it: the modern finish is still only an imitation. If you want to say, "This is a hand-rubbed oil finish," you have to get the finish the hard way. We happen to be allergic to the kind of maintenance schedule an oil finish demands, so we don't use it; however don't let our allergies stop you.
HOW TO APPLY The tiny lac insects A SHELLAC of India feed on the FINISH sap of trees and se crete a resinous substance that hardens on the tree branches. This substance is scraped from the branches and is used to produce shellac. It is interesting to note that all shellac you can buy is the natural substance. No one has, as yet, made a synthetic version of this finish, which has been used on furniture for hundreds of years.
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