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Should I finish my log furniture?

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Should I finish my log furniture?
The natural look of log furniture is one of the reasons it is becoming a more popular home décor not only for the log home market, but other home styles as well. We are frequently asked this question. I want to keep my log furniture looking as natural as possible, should I have it finished? The answer to this is in our opinion is yes. Finishing can change the appearance somewhat depending on the type of wood or finish, but the rewards are well worth it in the long run.
The oils in our hands are easily absorbed by unfinished wood. Of course our hands are never perfectly clean and the dirt is also absorbed right into the wood with the oil leaving soiled areas where your hands frequently touch the furniture. On a bed this is usually either the headboard or the footboard. On dressers, of course the drawer pulls and the edge around the top gets the most handling. If an item is finished, washing is easy. It's another story on bare wood. Some folks have taken the furniture out to the shop to sand it down again, but most people don't have the proper tools or just don’t want to mess with it. It's easier to just have it finished to begin with. Finished log furniture will pass the test of time in keeping your furniture looking good for many years.
To keep log furniture looking as natural as possible, most manufactures use a clear finish. There are many types of finishes available on the market. Many retail stores use the term "poly" to describe their finish when in reality it might not be polyurethane at all. Polyurethane in its purest state is a very hard durable finish but doesn't adhere well to products. For this reason most "Poly" finishes are usually a combination of Polyurethane and Acrylic. Other types of finishes consist of Varnishes, Lacquers, etc. Some finishes are hazardous to your health not to mention bad for the environment. This is the reason we use a non-toxic water base Acrylic on our furniture. It is very durable, will not yellow with time, and even fingernail polish remover doesn't touch it!
Some types of wood used in log furniture construction such as Pine or Aspen will darken only slightly with the application of a finish. The exception to this is White Cedar. The finish on White Cedar will actually change this wood from a very light uniform color, to a very beautiful distinctive color variation between the sapwood and the heartwood. The heartwood will become somewhat darker giving it a very unique character.
Red Cedar is a different kind of animal. An oil base finish will darken the wood to a deep red or purple color, however a water base acrylic finish will leave it more of a pinkish color. You often have the option when ordering to purchase it unfinished and finish yourself or have the company finish it for you.
So, should you finish your log furniture? We strongly recommend it. We think you will be happier in the end.

About the Author

Mike Messer and his business partner Dave Kondek have a successful business building and selling log furniture to the Continental US, Alaska, and Canada. Copyright 2005 by Great Lakes Rustics LLC. Permission is granted to reprint this article with accompanying website URL http://www.glrustics.com.

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