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Re: [MedievalSawdust] Finishing red-oak

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  • 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 1 of 16 , May 3, 2011
      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. :/
      > 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 2 of 16 , May 4, 2011
        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....!

        (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 .


        On 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
        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.



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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 3 of 16 , May 4, 2011
          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.

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