Beginner Woodworker, trying to find some common wood finishes to try

Hi everyone.

I’m having a terrible time trying to find any kind of wood finish. I live in Taitung City, there are plenty of smaller DIY’s and hardware stores packing some well known brands of goods… but when it comes to buying a wood finish… they seem to all pack the same no name brand, poorly marked tins or bottles. I don’t even know what kind of liquid is in them, as google translate isn’t much help. I can’t speak chinese either…
I’ve found and watched plenty of videos on YT regarding wood finishes and how to prepare the wood/use them. But for the most part I can’t even tell if the product in my hand is even water or oil based? Over the weekend I spent a good 30 mins on google translate with a lady at one of the more professional hardware stores and ended up with a nice looking tin which google translates to “Banana Water”, the directions talk about cleaning the surface, doing a coat, waiting, doing a second coat… etc. seems like what I’m after but I’m now pretty convinced it’s just some kind of turpentine as after the 4th coat I’m seeing absolutely no difference after it dries (or maybe just evaporates) on a few different pieces of test scrap woods.

So, if anyone could suggest some Taiwan products and how to use them It’d be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for reading!

@Taiwan_Luthiers may know something, methinks!

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You could try asking for tung oil (桐油) by name. It grows locally, so pretty sure they’ll have it.

You can get tung oil on Shoppee, but I don’t really recommend it for most purposes, it’s complicated and time-consuming to apply. Shellac is commonly available too, mostly as flakes (but don’t use the bottles of orange stuff from hardware stores, it’s not what you want for wood).

My go-to for most stuff is just waterbourne poly. Rainbow (a local paint brand) do various kinds of it, and it’s available everywhere (B&Q, mom-n-pop hardware stores, paint shops):

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Pretty sure I’ve spotted Tung oil while waving my phone about with the translator scanning haha.
ok, thats a good place to start. I’ll try it next time.

(PS: I’ve never been able to figure out what banana water actually is either, but I think it’s basically just paint thinner)

This looks good, I usually spot the Rainbow paints in both DIY and paint stores alike, not sure I have spotted this one before though…
I did previously get a water based “wood paint” (its on the label) by Rainbow, It’s supposed to protect outdoor and indoor furniture, it gives it a nice tint too which is always too orange-y at first but seems to fade to a colour which I like, though it never gives off a sheen.
how about this one you’ve suggested? what’s the finish like?

haha thanks, yeah pretty sure it’s also just a paint thinner, definitely got the same smell.

That orangey tint probably means there’s some shellac in it. It can look really nice on pine, but you have to mix it down just right.

The one in my picture is what it says, a non-gloss topcoat. Mix it down and brush or spray a few coats, you get a nice neutral satin finish. It does feel a bit plasticky, which is the downside of poly in general. They also have glossy versions, sanding sealers, and so on.

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Thanks for that, Brendon… I’ll keep an eye out for the product. Looks like it will do me well, and I can try the tung on the more crafty stuff I do.

I use automotive 2k urethane… I got sick of common wood varnish because they take forever to dry, shrinks like crazy, and isn’t durable at all. Automotive 2k urethane is much tougher and it does not shrink at all. However it really needs to be sprayed. You can brush them if you thin them though but once mixed it starts thickening over time, and so it becomes harder to brush on.


I’m going to recommend this one. Have not used it yet but it says it’s HS grade so should be good. I had good result with this:

but prices have gone up on them. Used to be 500 per liter.

haha, I hadn’t thought of trying anything automotive.
I’ll keep that in mind for sure. I don’t have a spray gun unfortunately. I was hoping to get something I could just use a brush or rag with.
however, in a few months I was hoping to take on a job of respraying some panels on a bike. Should I consider this as my clear coat or am I thinking of the wrong thing.
thanks for your suggestion anyway.

You can brush them on if you thin them quite a bit, but when freshly mixed they are actually quite runny so you don’t really have to thin it too much. I like them simply because they cure very quickly and so you can slap it on, sand it smooth, then buff them. They are a bit like epoxy, as in you don’t have to worry so much about it being too thick and causing problems.