These are my opinions about some finishes I've tried.


This finish is ordinarily used for gun stock finishes, but it works just as well for bows It's cheap (about $4 or $5 at Walmart or any gun store), and it's easy to apply. Just pour a little in a bottle cap, dip your finger in it, and rub it on. The beautiful thing about it is that it makes it easy to touch up a bow if it gets scuffed a little. Just sand the area and rub a little more on.

The only thing I don't like about Tru-oil is that I've never been able to use a whole bottle. After a while, it begins to coagulate. Once it does, it doesn't spread on as well, and it sometimes turns the wood darker and doesn't dry as clear. Also, it won't dry over oily woods like bocote or ipe.


I love this stuff!!! After trying a dozen different things to get a finish to dry on bocote without success, I tried Deft. It dried within an hour. This is, by all means, the best thing to use on oily wood in my opinion. It's cheap, too.It comes in a white spray can, and you can find it at Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. You can get it in gloss, semi-gloss, and satin. It dries quickly on ipe, too.

Spar Urethane/Polyurethane

They give a nice durable finish, but they don't dry well on oily woods. Why use them when you could use Deft? Deft is cheaper anyway.


Thunderbird has two finishes, I think. One is an epoxy finish, and the other is kind of a conversion finish. I haven't tried the epoxy finish, but I love the conversion finish even better than Deft. In fact, I no longer use Deft.

The conversion finish starts off as a lacquer, just like Deft, so it dries quickly on oily woods. After six hours, it turns into a polyurethane, so it's more durable than Deft.

It doesn't come in a spray can like Deft, but Home Depot sells these disposable Preval sprayers. The only problem with these is that they clog up easily. Whenever I'm done spraying a bow, I'll unscrew the sprayer, turn it upside down, spray through it. Then I'll stick it in some lacquer thinner and spray that through it. Then I'll wipe the nozzle with some thinner. That usually does the trick. Sometimes, it'll still clog, and you can unclog it by sticking your thumb over the bottom tube to prevent air from coming out of it, and spraying through the nozzle.

I mix in the jar 80% Thunderbird finish with 20% Thunderbird lacquer thinner. You don't want to go without the thinner because it'll be too thick, clog up your sprayer, and not put an even finish on your bow.

I spray on one coat. That'll dry in maybe 10 minutes, unless it's really cold. Then I steel wool it, then wipe it with a clean t-shirt. Then I spray on two more coats without steel wooling between coats. You have to put all three coats on within six hours because you don't want it to convert while you're still applying finishes. Since it dries so fast, it's easy to get all three coats on within an hour.

I wait until the next day to make sure it's fully converted. Then, I spray on one coat of Miniwax satin polyurethane. You see, if you want a satin finish, you only have to put it on the top layer. By having the bottom layers be glossy, your finish will be more durable. I learned this from Bob Sarrels of Sarrels Archery.

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Deft lacquer:

Preval sprayer:

Spray satin polyurethane:

Steel wool:

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