Michael Dresdner

straight talk about wood finishing

Formaldehyde

Q: I purchased a 70s-era desk with an oak veneer. Much of the desk is constructed of heavy fiberboard. I’m worried about the formaldehyde and other chemicals off gassing. Is there a way to seal the exposed fiberboard?
A: If it is from the 70s, anything that was going to off-gas has long ago done so, but to answer your question, any film forming finish will seal in formaldehyde. That includes shellac, lacquer, oil varnish, and both oil and waterbased polyurethane.