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Antonio Stradivari crafted violins that are remembered as much for their finish as they are for their sound. But while Antonio never revealed the recipe for his varnish, applying a memorable finish to your own woodwork is no big mystery. Whether it's on cabinets, floors, or casings, a truly excellent clear finish is one that looks good viewed from any angle, feels nice to the touch, cleans easily, and gives lasting protection to the wood. Applying a clear coating to any substrate is usually an aesthetic decision, because the finish improves the appearance of the surface. But a clear finish will also highlight any imperfections in the woodwork, such as milling marks, so proper sanding before application is critical