Finishing Stains & Clear

We are advocates of oil-based paints for all wood products.

Specifically, finishes for marine use are the most protective wood finish.

We strongly recommend oil based Marine Varnishes for the exterior finish. Marine finishes have UV inhibitors added which allow them to withstand sunlight much better. Avoid polyurethanes – they are harder, which tends to make them flake off and are more laborious to refinish. You can research “long-chain vs. short chain” varnishes for a more detailed explanation. Under no circumstances should a lacquer-based finish system be used on exterior doors.

Stain is a colorant, not a finish. If you desire to change the color of your product, use an oil based stain. Water based products may raise the grain of the wood. Stains of different colors can be blended to obtain the color you desire. Remember, the finish coats will affect the final observed color, test a sample before finalizing your color selection.

Before applying the first coat of finish or stain, remove all handling marks, raised grain and other undesirable blemishes by sanding all surfaces with 180 grit sandpaper. For doors with shaker sticking, lightly ease the outside edge of the sticking with sandpaper. To avoid cross-grain scratches, sand with the grain. NOTE: small amounts of grease, oil or pitch can be wiped clean with denatured alcohol or turpentine. A “tack cloth” should be used to wipe the surface free of dust and lint.

After applying the stain, allow the recommended drying time before applying the finish coats (varnish).

The first coat of varnish should be thinned by 25% to act as a sealing coat. Subsequent coats may also be thinned, which will allow them to level better and will also allow longer working time. However each coat will be thinner, so extra coats will be required. 3 coats minimum is required.

Sand between coats lightly, and wipe with a tack cloth before applying the next coat.

The final finish coat should be run onto any glass/wood interfaces by 1/16 of an inch. This will insure that the interface is well sealed against water and snow/ice.

Once again, all 6 surfaces – the 2 faces and 4 edges should be finished before the wood is allowed to be exposed to moisture.


Having the product lying flat will greatly reduce the chance of runs or sags in the finish.

Use disposable foam brushes to minimize marks.

Very fine 3M Scotch pads rather than sandpaper will help minimize dust.

Purchasing varnish from online marine suppliers will both save money and will most likely be newer stock, which will dry better.


Our shop has provided goods destined for historic projects in Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, Maryland, New York and throughout Pennsylvania. We have been involved in new structures as far away as Westport, Connecticut and Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.


We have the ability to produce a variety of door designs: Single doors, French style doors, Dutch doors, textfolding doors, storm doors, screen doors, combination storm/screen doors, and even garage doors – all with various shapes and muntin patterns are all within our capabilities.




Unusual window designs such as very large double hung, inswinging casement, hopper style, large awning style, central pivot, various shapes and muntin patterns, historic storm sash, and bent glass are all within our capabilities.