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Oil vs. Film, Choose Your Finish

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Drying oils

Drying oils

Easy to apply: Forget about streaks, drips, and brush marks. Just wipe on boiled linseed oil with a soft cloth or flood it on until you've saturated the wood surface. Then wipe off the excess and let it dry overnight before recoating, or one week before applying a film finish. To avoid spontaneous combustion from finish in the oil-soaked rags reacting with oxygen, hang or spread them out to dry before discarding.

Easily damaged, easily repaired: Drying oil cures too soft and thin to protect against moisture vapor or abrasion. It also darkens with time as it continues to oxidize. But the lack of a film build makes this the easiest finish to repair: Simply apply another coat of finish to damaged areas or when the surface starts to show wear.

Success secrets: Reapply oil where it soaks in completely, but wipe away surplus surface oil or it will cure soft and gummy. If the oil warms after it goes on, watch for "bleeding" from the wood pores, and wipe away these droplets before the oil cures. This may need to be done more than once, so check it periodically. Should you later want a more durable finish, oils still highlight grain beneath a film finish.

Try it on carvings and objects you'll handle infrequently where you want a natural, unfinished look. Also, apply it beneath a film finish to add an amber tone and to accent figured woods such as curly maple.

But avoid it for any project that requires moisture or abrasion resistance, especially outdoor projects. Oil provides almost no surface protection and does little to block moisture vapor, making it a poor choice for most furnishings you'll use every day.


Continued on page 3:  Oil/varnish mix

 

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Comments (9)
8485938618
PeteM wrote:

The hypertext in these articles don't do what a reader would expect.

11/26/2013 08:56:40 AM Report Abuse
3-j wrote:

Wetting and sanding off the "nibs" is not logical. The water-based product will simply create "nibs" again. Just save yourself needless effort and skip the non-nonsensical wetting/sanding step and apply the finish. When you sand after that process, you will see no "nibs."

11/7/2013 09:39:45 AM Report Abuse
d.d.kelly.bodhi wrote:

So. When can we get our grubbies on your tome on shellac?

8/1/2013 04:00:32 PM Report Abuse
dhellew21 wrote:

You also missed Tung oil (non-toxic) and Teak Oil. Mix these two together for Tung penetration, Teak durability, and you have a durable, easily repairable finish. Great for kitchen and bath cabinets including counter top trim behind and in front with porcelain tile tops. Holds up to the abuse of rental houses where a light coat make it like new. The blend is durable enough for outdoor use, best light re-coated annually like most finishes. Thanks to the Feds it is only imported, made in Canada.

11/11/2011 09:59:22 AM Report Abuse
mjmnswartz@gmail.com wrote:

For best adhesion you should lightly sand polyurethane between coats. Sanding also removes the dust nibs that may be on the previous coat.

4/15/2010 12:57:21 PM Report Abuse
geezerpa wrote:

What about PENOFIN oil, I find it exceptional. I believe its a california company. Does not raise the grain, so no sanding.

4/15/2010 12:38:02 PM Report Abuse
joecal wrote:

Anybody have any advice/thoughts on a product I receintly heard about - Australian Tree Oil?

4/15/2010 10:25:58 AM Report Abuse
jsmythe3325231 wrote:

Hi Great article and well written. Could you do an addendum for Shellac. Thanks

3/12/2010 01:12:19 PM Report Abuse
Mr. Frodo wrote:

I liked this article but I don't see how shellac could be left out of an article on finishing comparisons

3/11/2010 11:35:00 AM Report Abuse

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