Finishing Teak Furniture

A discussion of finish methods that can deal with the naturally oily character of Teak. July 16, 2008

I have a job that involves using both Teak solid and veneer and I wondered if the oil in the Teak is going to be a problem in the finishing phase. I will be spraying MLC MagnaMax. Do I need to use a vinyl sealer first or a seal coat of shellac? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor C:
Treat the wood with a 5% solution of phosphoric acid, which will immediately bring the oils and other aluminous matter to the surface. Then wipe off with wet rag full of methanol, let dry and wipe again with ethyl alcohol - not denatured. When dry, you can first coat with shellac Zinnser seal coat.

This will work for Brazilian Rosewood or any other oily woods also. The system was developed back in the 20-30's when Rosewood was being prevalently used in the manufacturing of furniture and in other industries, but it is still just as useful today.

From contributor I:
I have worked with Teak off and on for a few years but everything we do is just finished with Teak Oil and then either the clients periodically re-oil it until it develops it's patina or we set them up on a service contract and we come back and do it periodically.

From the original questioner:
To contributor I: I considered that but this piece of furniture is going to be several hundreds of miles away from the shop. Not convenient for recoating. This is a cabinet unit with a drawer. I really don’t like finishing cabinet interiors with oil as it takes forever to lose the smell inside.

From contributor M:
I've finished quite a bit of teak cabinets. The only thing I do is wipe the surface down with lacquer thinner then stain or spray clear. Its quick and easy and you don’t have to go find specialty chemicals.