I started applying the final finish the other morning and then quickly realized that things weren't quite right. I didn't like the color. It still seemed a little light so I quickly stripped the small section of wood that I started finishing and quickly applied an additional coat of stain to the entire room. This added a little more time to the project but I think it was worth it. When I put on the final coat, a linseed oil based varnish, it seemed to lighten to wood a bit and it needed a little more color depth.
Oak Brothers, gave me several suggestions. One seemed interesting to me because it was touted for its "green-ness". It is a varnish called "Le Tonkinois". I believe it was formulated for boats so I am sure it will last a long time. I put it on with a sponge brush and am really happy with it. Besides tung oil, it may be the nicest stuff I've worked with. It takes a good 24 hours to dry so the finish ends up being very even and it is not prone to dripping. Any noticeable dripping can be easily re-touched even an hour or so after you apply it. It supposedly contains no VOC's. This should not be confused with it not having an odor because the stuff is actually pretty strong, odor-wise. I also chose the gloss version as I was unsure of how I wanted the final finish to look. The original finish had a bit of gloss to it so I figured I would start there and manipulate it later if I needed. Once the finish is done, I would have put three coats of stain and two coats of varnish on the wood.
The dining room, with its beamed ceiling and huge built-in, is probably going to take a bit more time than the living room. I got to work on the ceiling beams yesterday and it is taking quite a bit of time. These were not stripped as well as any other parts of the house so there is a lot of shellac to take off. The edges of the cove molding, at the ceiling, have also been painted over about a hundred times so I am scraping all of the old paint to create a crisp an edge as possible within each ceiling section. Not fun.