Finishing is like a miracle: dull ordinary wood is suddenly transformed into an eyecatching wonder. I love that moment when after the first coat of finish the grain of the wood pops out. It is a moment of revelation. The creation is alive! But even here there are techniques and skills one must acquire.

Painting a Plywood Shelf
To look good plywood surfaces generally need to be finished well or covered with laminates of some kind. This is because most plywood sold in India is coarse grained and only veneered plywood stains well. [October 12, 2018]

Plywood takes paint well if applied with care
Finishing - Pore Filling Alternatives
Should one wish to achieve a high gloss finish on wood, it is recommended that the tiny pores visible in many types of wood are filled. Otherwise, a finish when applied on porous wood would seep into the pores and create an uneven surface. [June 09, 2018]

The open pores of many woods need to be filled for a great looking finish

Introduction to Spray Painting
I have been applying finishes by brush, rag and roller for years without problem. But when it came to finishing an apartment full of in-built cabinets, furniture, doors and windows, I thought it might be a good idea to acquire a spray paint system. [February 27, 2018]

A steady hand and eye is called for

Try Natural Shellac
The choice of Shellac depends on personal preferences but the notion that Shellac with wax is inappropriate for finishing is not correct. Natural Shellac dries as hard as the de-waxed type but is easier to use for French Polishing on account of the wax it contains.[24 March 2017]

Varieties of Shellac

Exploring the Vast World of Finishing
Wood unlike most metals can be finished in a vast variety of ways. The play of light on the surface of wood can be varied, colours changed, grain enhanced and much more. It was finishing that first drew me to woodworking and it remains an enduring passion even though I can only claim to be an amateur even after several years of practice and experimenting. [November 16, 2016]

French Polish

Getting a Silky Smooth Surface
Some people may be of the opinion that it is quite unnecessary to achieve a silky smooth surface on wooden boards that will be used in furniture assembly. I am no expert but for me the feel of the wood in furniture is a very primal instinct. I like to touch wood, run my fingers over it and nothing feels better frankly than a silky smooth finish. [September 25, 2016]

Neem Table Top with Shellac Finish

Natural Hair Brushes
I have used and abused more paint brushes than I care to remember. I was a vandal when it came to these brushes, bought for no more than Rs 15 or Rs 20 from the local paint shop. They did the job, but badly and I never knew better until I stumbled upon a natural hair paint brush.
[8 June 2015]

Plywood Finishing: Two Useful Products
I stumbled upon two products that promise to make life much easier when painting plywood or for that matter even natural wood. These products are not suitable if you wish to stain and polish high quality veneered plywood; they are useful if painting plywood. [18 May 2015]

Shellac Prevents Blotching
The best made furniture can be destroyed by a finishing disaster, one of which is blotching of stain. By blotching I mean an irregular, generally ugly discolouration of the wood after a stain has been applied.[24 March 2015]

Painting Plywood
I often get questions about painting plywood, which is understandable because painted plywood can look terrible if not done properly. [14 August 2014]

Searching for Good Shellac
Dinabandhu Mitra, a Kolkata-based DIY enthusiast, has been helping me search for top grade Shellac.There are numerous grades and varieties of Shellac, the best being the ones that have been processed to remove impurities and the wax present in natural Shellac.[14 July 2014]

Finishing without Pricey Power Tools
A question in the Indian DIY forum ( prompted me to write this post on finishing by hand. The question was about what kind of power sander is needed to make sanding easier. My simple answer was that power sanders are not required for a hobbyist woodworker. Reason: hobbyists have time on their hands and usually tackle relatively small projects. Hand sanding is just fine and gives the hobbyist more control over the sanding process. Here is a quick account of how I usually go about finishing my projects. [11 January 2014]

Mirka in India
Not too many people in India would have heard of Mirka but that brand is recognised the world over as the leader in sanding and polishing solutions. Mirka manufactures all its products only in Finland where it is based but has 15 subsidiaries worldwide for sales. Since 2010 it has been operating a subsidiary in India with headquarters based in New Delhi.[29 December 2013]

Experiments in Wood Staining: Part II
Staining wood seems pretty straightforward: what can be simpler after all than wiping on some colour over wood and then wiping it off? However, even this apparently simple procedure could be devilishly frustrating at times. [5/10/2012]

Experiments in Staining Wood Part I
Staining wood is one step in what is known as 'finishing'. For most projects, finishing is a necessary and crucial step. For a properly finished piece often looks far more appealing and exciting than unfinished wood.

Easy Shellac Finish
When I first began woodworking a few years ago, what confused me the most was the huge variety of finishes available, starting from French Polish to Polyurethane, varnish and what have you. It was a bewildering range and I did not quite know where to start. Rather than doing a lot of research, I simplified matters by visiting my local paint shop to find out what was available and what was not.

The principal challenge for Indian carpenters has been to build and finish doors and window shutters capable of resisting the tropical elements. British colonials in India, who built large bungalows and imposing Palladian buildings with huge windows, would invariably paint their windows and shutters white.


  1. Mr. Banerjee Sir
    I have just finished a project made completely out of wood that was lying around so its partly plywood, partly (what my man at the lumber yard calls it) jungle wood, partly babul, and partly pine. it's all come together quite nicely (by my own highly inflated standard) , but now needs staining and polishing. What would you recommend that I use so as not to show up the various woods.

    Any and all help will be willingly accepted, but may not be implemented.


  2. Umaji: Satining plywood is not an easy proposition. Normally plywood needs to be covered with veneer which takes on stain and polish very well. I would advise you to cover the plywood parts with veneer first if you want to stain and polish. Otherwise you will get poor results. Else go for paint. best wishes

    1. Have tried staining plywood and it works well, if you sand it appropriately

  3. Hi Indranil,

    How would you paint plywood furniture using opaque finish. I heard that PU is usually better when it comes to durability. Do you have any expeirnece with opaque paints?


  4. SaKumar: PU is very durable indeed. By opaque paints, do you mean the regular enamel paints we get in the stores? If yes, refer to my post on "Building a Wall Shelf".

  5. Hi Mr.Indranil
    I m planning to finish up (Polishing) a veenered chest of drawer for my 03 month old daughter myself.
    Somebody has suggested Asian Paints Touchwood Interior Matt (Clear) as it doubles up as an under coat as well as top coat.
    Could you help me out on this & also guide me with application process (DIY) step by step.
    Rahul Gupta

    1. Rahul: I have not had any experience with Touchwood and am not sure if it is a varnish or a PU finish. I can only offer general advice: first, surface preparation or sanding with a range of sandpapers starting from 240 to 320 (since you are working on veneer). Light sanding only. Apply each coat with a good quality brush (one with natural bristles if possible), sanding with 320 grit sandpaper in between coats, Three coats should do the job.

  6. Thanks...
    Need some more help....
    1) Also I need to stain & finish up the wooden margin edges... Pls suggest some good quality wood fillers & wood stains & is there a particular process for it.

    2) in one of your blogs you had mentioned about water soluble dyes & shellac... Where can I procure them from in Chandni Chowk....

    1. 1) A lot of good fillers are available at any hardware store these days. I get a filler from a Sardarji's shop in the car parts section at Khan Market. 2) Water soluble dies are available at Tilak Bazar/Khari Baoli. 3) I have not been able to get good quality shellac in Delhi; I order large quantities of it from Kolkata.

  7. Indranil - If you're interested I could put you in touch with someone who supplies pretty good dewed shellac in Old delhi..


    1. Yes, please. Email me at Thanks.

  8. Hi Indranil,

    I am doing some bookcases by using Rubber Wood. It has decent grains and I want to finish it properly.

    I visited some paint stores but not sure if I got the recipe for finishing. This is what I could come up with:
    1. Since this is rubber wood, apply a conditioner or wood sealer so that the color or stain can be applied evenly. Basic sanding to be done before starting.
    2. Apply desired color or stain.
    3. Sand the surface.
    4. Apply sealer and sand it again
    5. Apply clear lacquer by sing brush.

    Do you see any issue here?

    Also, one more thing which I am still looking for is: all the articles I see only talks about staining. Do you need surface preparation for staining and any top coat needed after staining?

    1. You have got it right. Before staining apply a wood conditioner and not necessarily a wood sealer which is normally used to close the pores in wood. A wood sealer should also prevent blotching but is more difficult to apply. I would be interested to know what wood sealer you had in mind and which wood conditioner. After staining sand very lightly - just to smoothen any fibres that might have been raised by the staining process.
      What articles have you seen on staining? Of course all wood surfaces have to be prepared, meaning sanded. But you couild leave out the sanding if you want a rough looking piece. The top coat in your case is NC sealer and lacquer. But applying lacquer with a brush requires some skill. You could of course rub it down after it dries properly.

  9. Dear Indranil Banerjie
    Can we purchase sallac (Lac) from online ,can you tell the online store or Delhi /Kolkata store address.

    Raj Kumar Moudgil

    1. Dear Raj,unfortunately there is no online store selling shellac as far as I know. In my case, a friend in Kolkata procures it locally and sends it to me. I would suggest you check on the Internet for Kolkata based comapnies. Alternatively, some of us can pool together and order Shellac (minimum orders must be in the region of at least a kilo). Am planning to do this with some friends. If you interested to join in, please email me at

  10. Anonymous22 June, 2016

    Hi, I am looking for someone to manufacture vintage car interior wood trim parts in either Burl Wood, Walnut, Pallisander, Matt Oak or Macassar.

    Can anyone help?

    Thanks - M

  11. Good day,
    I would like to know if spar varnish is available at India and which company markets it... or if I could get it online.. Thanks

    1. Varathane makes a spar varnish (polyurethane, I think). Should be available online at

  12. Anonymous27 June, 2017

    can we spray paint a wooden object?
    which specific colours can be used for oil based colour painting on marine ply objects so as to give a metallic finish?

  13. Hi
    i'm new to woodworking and am a little confused with the process of finishing specially because i am self taught and the process followed in India is very different from what i see on the web. So from what i understand, once you are done sanding and filling, we apply: Pre stain, then stain then sealer and finally the PU right? What is the purpose of the French chalk people use as a smoothener then? and does the stainer cover for Shellac bases in India like the patti chappra?
    Love the blog

  14. Hi
    What is the indian substitute for pre stainer, since i don't get it where i stay. Can i use a light coat of sanding sealer and sand it after?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Parambir, apologies for the delayed reply but blogger has been misbehaving these past few months. For pre-stainer it is best you use a light coat of Shellac. Sanding sealer might also work but I am not sure how it would react with other finishes or top coats.


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