Re: [MedievalSawdust] Medieval Finishes Redux
You forgot resins, pine pitch, gum, amber etc. (See Cennini) There are other blends in there that are hard waxes.On Oct 11, 2010 9:39 AM, "Siegfried" <siegfried@...> wrote:
> So, I know that we've talked, at length, about medieval finishes on this
> list in the past. But I'd like to bring the topic back up, as we have
> new/different people on the list, and I myself am starting to have my
> memory 'fade' a bit ;)
> Plus I have some different directions I'd like to take it.
> THE PAST:
> In the past, general discussions about 'medieval finishes' have revolved
> around things that they definitely had:
> * Oils (w/ linseed or modern tung filling in)
> * Waxes (bee's wax, or modern paste wax filling in)
> * Turpentine (as solvent)
> * Shellac (common in 16th century, documented back to 12th IIRC)
> * Paint (The most common)
> I think we all agree on this (mostly), and this has led most people down
> the routes of either painting things, or if they want to appeal to the
> modern 'show the wood' sensibilities, they end up using just oil, maybe
> with a top coat of wax.
> Or they (as I myself have done), make some 'medieval mix' of ingredients
> and end up with a 'that could be done'. Usually this involves a
> combination of linseed oil, bees wax, and turpentine.
> Depending upon the quantities, you end up with a thick goop (as I have
> done) ... or I've seen it mixed HEAVY on the wax, to where it makes a
> very nice period beeswax-paste-wax
> Now all that being said. I'm trying to solve some 'problems' with these
> finishes. Specifically for heavy use items. Specifically for 'show the
> wood' sensibilities.
> I realize that I may not be approaching this from a perfectly 'medieval'
> mindset. But I'm ok with that at the moment. What I'm trying to do,
> is to find a hybrid. Using 'conjecturally / arguably' period
> techniques, to achieve a modern sensibility/protection.
> So, the problems that I've found, personally, with all the oil/wax/turp
> style finishes. Is that they are 'soft' finishes. As 'soft' finishes,
> they allow a heavily used item, that will be handled while people are
> sweaty and dirty ... like, say, a crossbow (*wink*), to get very very
> very dirty.
> Dirt/grime gets into the wax/oils, and things start to look very 'worn
> down'. Not that there is a serious 'problem' with that, it's medieval
> afterall. But most folks I made a crossbow for, don't like it when
> their expensive crossbow, after a summer's shooting, looks rather worn
> down. Especially when right next to them, is someone shooting a
> plastic-y-coated polyurethane crossbow. That glistens with it's 'modern
> beauty'. I don't want that on my crossbows (or other woodwork). But I
> WOULD like a finish that's more durable and resistant to grime.
> So, a few discussion thoughts:
> * Shellac - Now, shellac is period, and is a film-forming finish.
> Granted, you have to keep the booze away from it. But at least it's
> easy to refresh if you need to :) I've used shellac a fair bit in the
> past on kid's furniture and the like, I do like working with it. (Who
> can argue with a 10-30 minute drying time for coats!)
> In fact, to help with 'grime' issues on open pored woods, I plan on
> starting to use shellac as a pore/grain filler on future projects
> regardless of final finish. Giving it that one coat of sanding
> sealer/dewaxed shellac, then sanding/scraping it back down, then
> finishing it.
> But my question, for people who have used it more than I ... is just
> this: How 'durable' is it? Specifically in terms of being 'touched'.
> My gut instinct just tells me that by it's nature it's not as
> 'hard/firm' and is a more delicate finish. To where I'd expect in the
> case of, say, a crossbow, that it might get actually 'worn off'.
> Am I right in this idea? Or is it a much more durable finish than I'm
> giving it credit?
> * Varnish - So, now-a-days, we basically only think about polyurathane
> when it comes to a hard-coat-varnish. But lots of different varnishes
> have existed over time. I've read documentation of ancient eqypt using
> pine sap w/ solvent to create a golden hard-varnish. And of other
> natural materials being used as well (amber, etc). And there were
> period references to 'varnishing' items, but without good 'what they
> meant' ;)
> My question is: What other semi-commonly available varnishes might
> exist, that might better approximate a period varnish, than poly, but
> that don't have that 'Oh that's been polyd' look, while providing good
> * Lacquer - Lacquering is period for the Orient. Is there any
> documentation for lacquer in the West? And is there any documentation
> for 'clear/amber' lacquer, instead of solid color?
> One final topic: UV Protection
> None of the period finishes I've used, have ever provided any UV
> protection. This isn't a real problem if you are using basic woods,
> that either don't really care about the UV. Or that get prettier with
> UV exposure (Cherry).
> However, there are times when I find myself making something, with very
> specific colorful woods, IE, exotics. Purpleheart, Osage Orange,
> Bubinga, Bloodwood, Padauk ...
> In these cases, the result of the finished piece, is often, always,
> Until someone takes that item out into the hot sun for a season of
> shooting. Then, after only an oil/wax finish ... everything has turned
> muted shades of brownish-brown ... the hard work put into inlaying woods
> of striking difference is lost as they become nigh the same color, etc.
> YES, I realize that this is a 'not period issue'. In period, if you
> were inlaying woods, they were striking to begin with. Pear vs Ash,
> Cherry vs Ash, etc (I've seen lots of Ash inlay).
> Anyway, to my point, I'd love again, a period-ish finish that contained
> some UV protection. So that if someone commissions me to make a bow
> with bloodwood or purpleheart inlay ... it looks as striking on day 1,
> as it does on day 500.
> Yes, I realize that one solution here is just to say: "Hey, I'm putting
> non-period wood into it, put a non-period finish on it"
> But really, I do want to keep stuff as CLOSE to period as I can, even
> when I'm straying from the field. So I'd much rather have a period
> finish on something, even if the underlying wood, isn't.
> So any thoughts on this? My current solution I'm planning on trying.
> Is to make a custom blend of linseed oil and Spar Varnish. Heavy on
> the linseed. To try to get some UV-spar finish protection, without
> causing a poly-look
> But are there any other options here that people know about? Basically
> the ONLY UV-protecting finish I know of, is Spar Poly
> Barun Siegfried Sebastian Faust - Barony of Highland Foorde - Atlantia
> http://hf.atlantia.sca.org/ - http://crossbows.biz/ - http://eliw.com/
- The point was to find a finish cleaner than waax or linseed oil that was still period.
I have done many gun stocks with a product called Linspeed it basicaly gives a fast drying finnish like boiled linseed oil.
I suspect it is just that with some japan drier in it.
ERIK ' mage
--- In email@example.com, John LaTorre <jlatorre@...> wrote:
> Regarding this issue of varnishes and such, it might be worth pointing
> out what "spar varnish" really means, and why urethane varnishes are
> well suited for it. Spar varnish must not only be tough and UV
> resistant, but it must flex as the spar flexes without developing
> cracks. Urethane varnishes do this particularly well, although you have
> the usual hassles of stripping off the original finish when refinishing
> your work. But unless your work actually flexes, like a spar or a tent
> pole or whatever, spar varnish isn't really better than any other
> varnish for outdoor use.
> We do have varnish recipes of a sort from Italian musical instrument
> makers (although not Stradivari, I'm sorry to say). Again, the finish
> wouldn't be optimum for furniture or chests, but this time for exactly
> the opposite reason. Musical instrument varnish is designed to be as
> hard as possible, to stiffen the tonewood and increase resonance. It
> isn't really designed for wear, and certainly not for moisture
> inhibition (in fact, many stringed instruments don't have the interiors
> of their soundboxes finished). So I guess we're still looking for the
> recipe for a finish that does what we expect our everyday furniture or
> tool finishes to do.
> As for "Tried and True" finishes, I've tried them and haven't had much
> luck with them. It may have been a quality control thing, but I found
> that one of the cans I opened had already oxidized to some extent. Has
> anybody else used this stuff?
> One last comment about tool finishes. I've used "Tru-Oil" which is yet
> another varnish/oil hybrid like Watco or Tried&True. The difference is
> that it's formulated mainly for gunstocks, so it expects to get a lot of
> hard handling and abuse. It's also a favored finish for guitar necks,
> which get a similar amount of skin contact. Available from your local
> gun shop.
> --Johann von Drachenfels
> West Kingdom