Re: [MedievalSawdust] Finishing red-oak
- SeanBoiled 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 boilit 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@...>
Sent: Tue, May 3, 2011 12:13:07 PM
Subject: RE: [MedievalSawdust] Finishing red-oak
Usually the stuff you purchase from the Big Box stores that is labeled as "Tung Oil" is very carefully labeled "TUNG OIL finish".
>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.
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.
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.
- 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
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!
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. :/
> 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.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "powell sean" <powell.sean@...>
> To: email@example.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.
- 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)
Date: Mon, 2 May 2011 22:41:12 -0400
Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Finishing red-oakRed 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 .
JeffOn Mon, May 2, 2011 at 8:38 PM, Sean Powell <powell.sean@...> wrote:
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
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.
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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.