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Re: [MedievalSawdust] Finishing red-oak

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  • AlbionWood
    Red oak has a coarse grain structure and open pores, so I advise against using any sort of pigment stain. You can dye it if you want a certain color or hue,
    Message 1 of 16 , May 2, 2011
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      Red oak has a coarse grain structure and open pores, so I advise against
      using any sort of pigment stain. You can dye it if you want a certain
      color or hue, but avoid the stains that accentuate the grain - it will
      become far too pronounced and distract from the overall appearance.

      If you think you might ever want to apply any other finish, such as
      paint, do not use anything containing wax.

      Things like lacquer, varnish, epoxy, or even shellac are a bit tricky to
      use, so if you don't have much finishing experience, avoid those until
      you do.

      Oil-based finishes are by far the easiest to use - you just flood them
      on, wait a little while, then wipe off the excess and let it cure for a
      while. Linseed oil by itself is not a good choice because it takes a
      long time to cure and doesn't offer much protection. The best choice
      for relative beginners is a thinned oil-varnish formula, and my
      recommendation is Waterlox Original formula. Wipe on, wipe off, cure
      overnight, repeat. Two coats will build a decent finish without
      creating a thick film.

      Waterlox is basically a mixture of spar varnish, linseed oil, and
      thinner. It will darken the wood quite a bit and add an amber hue,
      which is not a problem with red oak. The grain will definitely show.

      Cheers,
      Tim

      On 5/2/2011 5:38 PM, Sean Powell wrote:

      > So... Is there a (preferably period) way to finish red-oak, to make it
      > more weather and water resistant (camp furniture) that will not cause
      > the pieces to bond together (camp furniture) that will show the grain
      > (cause it's pretty), permit the delusions of eventual carving (maybe
      > tung oil?), permit painting over the finish (oil based paint?) and not
      > look like the piece was 80% done and then dashed together?
    • Jeffrey Johnson
      Red Oak?!?! UNCLEAN!!! HERESAY! Euro Oak is brown, which looks... brown. If n it were white oak, I d tell you to fume it and rub in multiple coats of
      Message 2 of 16 , May 2, 2011
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        Red Oak?!?! UNCLEAN!!! HERESAY!

        Euro Oak is brown, which looks... brown. If'n it were white oak, I'd tell you to fume it and rub in multiple coats of "tried-n-tru" linseed & resin oil into it. But since you have the red oak, I'd go for an alcohol based (aniline) stain, followed by the linseed mix. Or, there's this: method: http://www.nrhillerdesign.com/press/pdfs/011193106.pdf .

        Jeff



        On Mon, May 2, 2011 at 8:38 PM, Sean Powell <powell.sean@...> wrote:
        Hello,

        I feel guilty about posting this following the discussion about the
        laurels showing deference to fancy and unique over simple and
        commonplace but I am completing a set of 4 glastonbury camp chairs in
        5/4 red-oak. It was my first experience working with lumber straight
        from the mill rather then from a hardware store and WOW was it an eye
        opener. After all the work to turn tree-pieces into planks I think it's
        a shame to mask the beautiful wood grain. Then again someone once
        described an SCA event as looking like the cast-offs from the
        'unfinished furniture' store. My wife has expressed an interest in
        painting heraldry on the backs but her project list is as long as mine
        so they may be accomplished at quarter-past never. Likewise I had
        delusions of carving the arms properly... but please see the list of
        projects above.

        So... Is there a (preferably period) way to finish red-oak, to make it
        more weather and water resistant (camp furniture) that will not cause
        the pieces to bond together (camp furniture) that will show the grain
        (cause it's pretty), permit the delusions of eventual carving (maybe
        tung oil?), permit painting over the finish (oil based paint?) and not
        look like the piece was 80% done and then dashed together?

        I think I've asked this question before (or a variant on it) but after
        my hard-drive crash I lost a lot of saved notes. I recall a mixture of
        bees-wax, mineral spirits and tung oil is supposed to create a
        penetrating finish that evaporates and leaves a hard coating but have no
        idea of the ratios or the technique to apply it.

        Any and all advice is appreciated.

        Sean


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      • powell.sean@comcast.net
        Soapeater purist. :) If it were white oak I d be amonia fuming it as well but we needed enough rough-cut lumber for 14 chairs. Only 2 people were interested
        Message 3 of 16 , May 3, 2011
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          Soapeater purist. :)

           

          If it were white oak I'd be amonia fuming it as well but we needed enough rough-cut lumber for 14 chairs. Only 2 people were interested in a documentable wood and the rest were more concerned with looks, function, portability and durability... then we were also limited by what the lumber-mill had on hand that week. Hey it beats pine 2x12 star-gazers and plywood box thrones so it's a step in the proper direction for camp. Next ones will be white oak.

           

          Everyone keeps mentioning Linseed oil. I am more familiar with Tung oil. What's the functional difference between the two? Is it about the correct period coice or in how they dry (or don't dry)? inquiring minds want to know.

           

          Thanks,

          Sean

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Jeffrey Johnson" <jljonsn@...>
          To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Monday, May 2, 2011 10:41:12 PM
          Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Finishing red-oak



          Red Oak?!?! UNCLEAN!!! HERESAY!

          Euro Oak is brown, which looks... brown. If'n it were white oak, I'd tell you to fume it and rub in multiple coats of "tried-n-tru" linseed & resin oil into it. But since you have the red oak, I'd go for an alcohol based (aniline) stain, followed by the linseed mix. Or, there's this: method: http://www.nrhillerdesign.com/press/pdfs/011193106.pdf .

          Jeff

        • powell.sean@comcast.net
          I should have gone to google first. Apparantly I m not as familiar with Tung oil as I thought I was. Either I ve always bought wiping varnish labeled as Tung
          Message 4 of 16 , May 3, 2011
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            I should have gone to google first. Apparantly I'm not as familiar with Tung oil as I thought I was. Either I've always bought wiping varnish labeled as Tung oil or I've been misapplying it. :/

            http://www.popularwoodworking.com/techniques/finishing/oil-finishes-their-history-and-use

            I want the non-building finish so piece that fit now don't suddenly become too tight after the finish and I want water proof or water resistant as these will almost definetly be covered in morning dew and try to suck moister from damp ground. Not certain if I want the labor of Tung oil though. Lots to consider.

             

            Thanks for the advice so far. Any other comments are definetly welcome.

            Sean

            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "powell sean" <powell.sean@...>
            To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 8:12:42 AM
            Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Finishing red-oak



            Soapeater purist. :)

             

            If it were white oak I'd be amonia fuming it as well but we needed enough rough-cut lumber for 14 chairs. Only 2 people were interested in a documentable wood and the rest were more concerned with looks, function, portability and durability... then we were also limited by what the lumber-mill had on hand that week. Hey it beats pine 2x12 star-gazers and plywood box thrones so it's a step in the proper direction for camp. Next ones will be white oak.

             

            Everyone keeps mentioning Linseed oil. I am more familiar with Tung oil. What's the functional difference between the two? Is it about the correct period coice or in how they dry (or don't dry)? inquiring minds want to know.

             

            Thanks,

            Sean

          • Vels inn Viggladi
            ... oil. What s the functional difference between the two? Is it about the correct period coice or in how they dry (or don t dry)? inquiring minds want to
            Message 5 of 16 , May 3, 2011
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              >Everyone keeps mentioning Linseed oil. I am more familiar with Tung
              oil. What's the functional difference between the two? Is it about the correct period coice or in how they dry (or don't dry)? inquiring minds want to know.
              >

              >Thanks,
              >Sean

              Usually the stuff you purchase from the Big Box stores that is labeled as "Tung Oil" is very carefully labeled "TUNG OIL finish".
              It gives the look of Tung Oil while having the protective qualities of a varnish (usually poly). Tung oil originates in China. It's also next to impossible to get just Tung Oil from anywhere super-convenient in the US.
              Boiled linseed oil is historically the more commonly used finishing oil in Europe (if a finishing oil is used). Northern Italian furniture makers seemed to have preferred to use Walnut Oil as a finishing oil, and it seems more often that was used as a "naked" finish. Mahoney's Fine Finishes makes a furniture grade Walnut Oil (not the dietary woo-woo stuff). I'd recommend going to the Mahoney's website to order. While Walnut oil is a little more expensive than linseed, getting it from Mahoney's will save you quite a few dollars when ordering a gallon jug.

              Speaking of blogs of late: Marc Spagnuolo has a post about mixing your own oil/varnish blend. 
              http://thewoodwhisperer.com/make-your-own-oil-varnish-blend/
              And here he explains why you'd use just oil, oil and varnish or some other finish.
              http://thewoodwhisperer.com/oil-based-finish-basics/ (video podcast ep)

              For other historically appropriate varnishes things can get expensive or slightly messy. Historically appropriate varnish was made from granulated amber that was boiled in seed oil then cooled, reheated and applied (Ceninni). A number of artist supply companies do sell prepared amber varnish, but it is really expensive. Raw amber in sufficient quantity is expensive as all get out as well.
              Glair varnish is also a possibility. This is made by mixing egg-whites with water, whipping it to a foam, then straining off the heavier liquid from the water once things have had time to settle. When the glair cures on the piece, it is waterproof and very hard. Da Vinci mentions a recipe for making fake amber by mixing glair with linseed oil, then boiling it in a bit of intestine. I'm thinking a shortcut to looking more like amber varnish would be to use oil and glair mixed, or in layers. I also have little doubt that would have been done  a time or two, if indeed it does look and act very much like amber varnish. I've been meaning to play with this a bit, but haven't yet had the opportunity.


              Vels



            • kelly O'Sullivan
              Sean Boiled linseed oil is made from flax seed. They are both drying oils, but linseed will dry a little darker and when exposed to sunlight will blaken over
              Message 6 of 16 , May 3, 2011
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                Sean
                 
                Boiled linseed oil is made from flax seed. They are both drying oils, but linseed will dry a little darker and when exposed to sunlight will blaken over time were as Tung Oil wont. The stuff you get the hardware store has addtives in it to help it dry faster it. If you look around you can find raw linseed oil without the additives, but if you use that you will have to double boil
                it so the oil wont go rancid. Linseed is a period oil and if you want to protect it a beeswax coating will work.
                 
                Kelly  


                From: Vels inn Viggladi <velsthe1@...>
                To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Tue, May 3, 2011 12:13:07 PM
                Subject: RE: [MedievalSawdust] Finishing red-oak

                 

                >Everyone keeps mentioning Linseed oil. I am more familiar with Tung oil. What's the functional difference between the two? Is it about the correct period coice or in how they dry (or don't dry)? inquiring minds want to know.
                >

                >Thanks,
                >Sean

                Usually the stuff you purchase from the Big Box stores that is labeled as "Tung Oil" is very carefully labeled "TUNG OIL finish".
                It gives the look of Tung Oil while having the protective qualities of a varnish (usually poly). Tung oil originates in China. It's also next to impossible to get just Tung Oil from anywhere super-convenient in the US.
                Boiled linseed oil is historically the more commonly used finishing oil in Europe (if a finishing oil is used). Northern Italian furniture makers seemed to have preferred to use Walnut Oil as a finishing oil, and it seems more often that was used as a "naked" finish. Mahoney's Fine Finishes makes a furniture grade Walnut Oil (not the dietary woo-woo stuff). I'd recommend going to the Mahoney's website to order. While Walnut oil is a little more expensive than linseed, getting it from Mahoney's will save you quite a few dollars when ordering a gallon jug.

                Speaking of blogs of late: Marc Spagnuolo has a post about mixing your own oil/varnish blend. 
                http://thewoodwhisperer.com/make-your-own-oil-varnish-blend/
                And here he explains why you'd use just oil, oil and varnish or some other finish.
                http://thewoodwhisperer.com/oil-based-finish-basics/ (video podcast ep)

                For other historically appropriate varnishes things can get expensive or slightly messy. Historically appropriate varnish was made from granulated amber that was boiled in seed oil then cooled, reheated and applied (Ceninni). A number of artist supply companies do sell prepared amber varnish, but it is really expensive. Raw amber in sufficient quantity is expensive as all get out as well.
                Glair varnish is also a possibility. This is made by mixing egg-whites with water, whipping it to a foam, then straining off the heavier liquid from the water once things have had time to settle. When the glair cures on the piece, it is waterproof and very hard. Da Vinci mentions a recipe for making fake amber by mixing glair with linseed oil, then boiling it in a bit of intestine. I'm thinking a shortcut to looking more like amber varnish would be to use oil and glair mixed, or in layers. I also have little doubt that would have been done  a time or two, if indeed it does look and act very much like amber varnish. I've been meaning to play with this a bit, but haven't yet had the opportunity.


                Vels



              • AlbionWood
                Yes, as you found out, tung oil is largely a marketing term now, although it originally did refer to a specific type of curing oil. Wiping varnish is what
                Message 7 of 16 , May 3, 2011
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                  Yes, as you found out, "tung oil" is largely a marketing term now,
                  although it originally did refer to a specific type of curing oil.

                  Wiping varnish is what you want, and Waterlox is IMO the best of the
                  readily-available formulas. Two applications won't build up a thick
                  enough film to interfere with the fit of joints in a Glastonbury; if
                  your tolerances are that tight you will have trouble with changes in
                  humidity every time you go to an event!

                  Waterlox includes spar varnish, which is soft and pliable and will make
                  the surface a little less slippery, so you will probably want to polish
                  the dowels with furniture wax where they slide through the holes. This
                  will interfere with any subsequent finishing, so be careful where you
                  use the wax.

                  Your objectives are incompatible. Waterproof finishes are film
                  finishes, and the thicker they are, the better the moisture protection.
                  Marketing hype notwithstanding, none of the penetrating finishes
                  really do a great job of blocking moisture. (Except possibly the
                  penetrating epoxy, like Smith & Co., but that is a giant pain to use
                  (and expensive). It would seal up those open red-oak pores, though.)
                  Everything is a compromise... For my money, Waterlox is usually the best
                  balance between ease of use (and maintenance), cost, protection, and
                  appearance.

                  Red oak is not the best choice for pieces like this, because it has very
                  open pores that allow moisture to move in and out of the wood very
                  easily. White oak would have been a better choice, because the pores
                  are closed, so it is easier to seal up and less prone to damage from
                  humidity changes. But you already have the chairs, so you just need to
                  finish them as well as you can and hope for the best. If you really
                  want maximum protection, look into the Smith & Co. penetrating epoxy.
                  You probably only need/want that on the legs; it's overkill for the
                  rest. Wiping varnish will provide sufficient protection against casual
                  moisture, but not against ground contact.

                  Take heart though, the oak will probably hold up pretty well for several
                  years even if it does get some moisture damage - it will just develop
                  "character" and become more authentic-looking!

                  Cheers,
                  Tim

                  On 5/3/2011 5:26 AM, powell.sean@... wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  > I should have gone to google first. Apparantly I'm not as familiar with
                  > Tung oil as I thought I was. Either I've always bought wiping varnish
                  > labeled as Tung oil or I've been misapplying it. :/
                  >
                  > http://www.popularwoodworking.com/techniques/finishing/oil-finishes-their-history-and-use
                  >
                  > I want the non-building finish so piece that fit now don't suddenly
                  > become too tight after the finish and I want water proof or water
                  > resistant as these will almost definetly be covered in morning dew and
                  > try to suck moister from damp ground. Not certain if I want the labor of
                  > Tung oil though. Lots to consider.
                  >
                  > Thanks for the advice so far. Any other comments are definetly welcome.
                  >
                  > Sean
                  >
                  > ----- Original Message -----
                  > From: "powell sean" <powell.sean@...>
                  > To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
                  > Sent: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 8:12:42 AM
                  > Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Finishing red-oak
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Soapeater purist. :)
                  >
                  > If it were white oak I'd be amonia fuming it as well but we needed
                  > enough rough-cut lumber for 14 chairs. Only 2 people were interested in
                  > a documentable wood and the rest were more concerned with looks,
                  > function, portability and durability... then we were also limited by
                  > what the lumber-mill had on hand that week. Hey it beats pine 2x12
                  > star-gazers and plywood box thrones so it's a step in the proper
                  > direction for camp. Next ones will be white oak.
                  >
                  > Everyone keeps mentioning Linseed oil. I am more familiar with Tung oil.
                  > What's the functional difference between the two? Is it about the
                  > correct period coice or in how they dry (or don't dry)? inquiring minds
                  > want to know.
                  >
                  > Thanks,
                  >
                  > Sean
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                • D. Young
                  Is the objective to de-Red the oak.....or to just protect it? There is a difference. Fine Armour and Historical Reproductions Custom Commissions Welcome....!
                  Message 8 of 16 , May 4, 2011
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                    Is the objective to de-Red the oak.....or to just protect it?

                    There is a difference.



                    Fine Armour and Historical Reproductions

                         Custom Commissions Welcome....!

                    www.partsandtechnical.com
                    (Well Formed Munitions Catalog Coming This Spring)
                     





                    To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
                    From: jljonsn@...
                    Date: Mon, 2 May 2011 22:41:12 -0400
                    Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Finishing red-oak

                     
                    Red Oak?!?! UNCLEAN!!! HERESAY!

                    Euro Oak is brown, which looks... brown. If'n it were white oak, I'd tell you to fume it and rub in multiple coats of "tried-n-tru" linseed & resin oil into it. But since you have the red oak, I'd go for an alcohol based (aniline) stain, followed by the linseed mix. Or, there's this: method: http://www.nrhillerdesign.com/press/pdfs/011193106.pdf .

                    Jeff




                    On Mon, May 2, 2011 at 8:38 PM, Sean Powell <powell.sean@...> wrote:
                    Hello,

                    I feel guilty about posting this following the discussion about the
                    laurels showing deference to fancy and unique over simple and
                    commonplace but I am completing a set of 4 glastonbury camp chairs in
                    5/4 red-oak. It was my first experience working with lumber straight
                    from the mill rather then from a hardware store and WOW was it an eye
                    opener. After all the work to turn tree-pieces into planks I think it's
                    a shame to mask the beautiful wood grain. Then again someone once
                    described an SCA event as looking like the cast-offs from the
                    'unfinished furniture' store. My wife has expressed an interest in
                    painting heraldry on the backs but her project list is as long as mine
                    so they may be accomplished at quarter-past never. Likewise I had
                    delusions of carving the arms properly... but please see the list of
                    projects above.

                    So... Is there a (preferably period) way to finish red-oak, to make it
                    more weather and water resistant (camp furniture) that will not cause
                    the pieces to bond together (camp furniture) that will show the grain
                    (cause it's pretty), permit the delusions of eventual carving (maybe
                    tung oil?), permit painting over the finish (oil based paint?) and not
                    look like the piece was 80% done and then dashed together?

                    I think I've asked this question before (or a variant on it) but after
                    my hard-drive crash I lost a lot of saved notes. I recall a mixture of
                    bees-wax, mineral spirits and tung oil is supposed to create a
                    penetrating finish that evaporates and leaves a hard coating but have no
                    idea of the ratios or the technique to apply it.

                    Any and all advice is appreciated.

                    Sean


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                  • Vels inn Viggladi
                    So, I got to doing some finishing on a couple new pieces today. I figured I d see how the walnut oil stacked up to linseed. For the test I happened to be
                    Message 9 of 16 , May 4, 2011
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                      So, I got to doing some finishing on a couple new pieces today. I figured I'd see how the walnut oil stacked up to linseed. For the test I happened to be working with some red oak, so I'll be commenting on comparisons based on previous experience with that and other "light" colored woods.

                      Most obvious is the viscosity. Walnut oil is much thinner and lighter than boiled linseed oil. In color the walnut oil is also significantly lighter. I could not tell where the walnut oil had begun to penetrate before rubbing it in with a cloth. Those who've worked with linseed oil will recognize that during initial application linseed oil has a tendency to show a marked difference from where it is initially flooded on compared to other settling points after it has been spread around.

                      Linseed oil tends to add a yellow hue to woods, which then moves into a darker amber with time. The walnut oil went on with just the slightest coloring of the wood, very gently bringing up the grain (as opposed to the *pop* that can occur with linseed).

                      The wood soaked up the walnut oil rather quickly. This is probably a combination of the thinness of the oil and the open pore nature of the wood in question. Still, the surface of the wood was not oily to the touch within 2 hours. It will have to wait until tomorrow to see if there are any distinct differences once the oil begins to cure.

                      For the next step, I'm going to do a side by side on two pieces of oak from the same board. After application and curing, I'm going to expose them to direct sunlight for a week to see if there is any difference to the colorization and surface texture.



                      Vels
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