Lets Talk "oil finishes"

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I am constantly getting questions about oil finishes ,, there are so many its hard to determine what to use . I am curious what you use and why .

Man, what a broad subject. Are you talking stains, top coats, a combination of both? Polyurethane or varnish or BLO?

Most of my projects these days are functional furniture and cabinets. I use a variety of oil stains on most woods but have begun relying more on dyes to get a deeper luster to the wood. Since everything has to be functional, I have gone to Valspar conversion varnish applied with an air assisted airless. The CV has good UV protection, is non-yellowing, and almost impervious to common household chemicals.

Artisan Woodworks of Texas- www.awwtx.com

I’ve recently started using Saicos Hardwax Oil. It’s a very easy to use, extremely durable, and easily repaired surface. I haven’t much experience with it yet but I’m pretty impressed so far.
I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s experiences with it.

The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.

I like to use BLO, 2-3 coats, then followed by Tung oil. When all is dry maybe some wax. Takes a long time but then I am usually not in a hurry. I try not to use stain because I very easily can make a total mess of it.
I like the organicness of oil, whether or not it is better for you than other finishes.

Tor and Odin are the greatest of gods.

We use MinWax Antique Oil. We use it because, unlike BLO and most oil finishes, it doesn’t expand as it dries. It’s incredibly aggravating to find a few thousand dollars worth of finished items ruined by small checks at the end of every exposed medullary ray. To test for expansion during drying just pour a small amount of finish in a dish and let it dry over night. If it wrinkles up, it’s an expanding finish. Look for one that dries smooth as glass.

We also want our finishes to be relatively permeable. Our products are designed to reach equilibrium as quickly as possible when relative humidity changes. We’re far more concerned about shape stability in our products than actual dimensional stability. We want to get core moisture content equal to surface moisture content as quickly as possible. MinWax Antique Oil allows for this very well yet still offers surface protection from hand oils and other grime.

Oil finishes in general are mostly cosmetic, but I like Danish oil type finishes because they have resins in them which does provide some protection while the oil brings out the color of the wood and leaves a natural looking grain, buts with some luster. It is easy to apply and to maintain, requiring just a good cleaning and new coat occasionally (it can be years in between). You can also make your own easily enough from oil, poly and white spirit using 1/3 of each ingredient, although I haven’t done this myself yet.

Mike, an American living in Norway

I like danish oil. I often cover it with poly as well. But there is nothing like the instant beautiful you get from danish oil.

Losing fingers since 1969

I was delighted to see your post. I have oftened talked about the expansion of wood due to oil finishes. While most have not noticed or attributed distortion due to seasonal changes, I agree oil finishes can distort wood. It seems the slower drying the worse it is , due to penetration I would assume.
In doing research I used about every type of oil I could get, from the BLO, hard wax , Danish, Walnut ,etc.
We tested the oils on glass, this showed us if they yellowed, and how they dried . It was quite interesting, it dispelled the notion that oils add color to wood, not the case. Very few had enough color to be of any effect unless like a danish oil a colorant was added.
It became quite evident that rather than adding color the oils reacted with the natural tannins in the wood, and the slower it dried the more reaction.
This is one of the reasons that BLO is highly popular for “popping” grain". It dries slow . One interesting thing we did find was that the same BLO that was 3 years old dried much faster and more throughly than a new can . It is my opinion that driers are being added rather than an actual boiling process (polimerzation), I came to this conclusion by adding Japan drier to raw linseed oil and it reacted and dried about the same .
As most know many of the oils are varnish oils, which is a blend of oils, resins and driers, we found these to be the best, in both dry time and durability .
The Minwax Antique oil, was one that did well, as well as their wipe on poly, General Finishes Arm R Seal, Formbys Tung Oil, ( not really tung) , Waterlox (yellows) , all did well. The new System Three Marine Spar Varnish ( excellent but expensive) .
There were others, but I like a nice close to the wood oil finish, but doing this for a living it has to dry quickly and be very durable, clients do not want to “renew” .

I thought this a good subject to get this finishing forum rolling .. I am also impressed with the basis of knowledge we have here.

That’s a great topic. Thanks Charles.

I can’t claim to know much a bout oil and finishes in general.
I have been reading about outdoor finishes a little and I am still confused. I am hoping one of you can expand on outdoor finishes /oils
Marine spar varnish seems to come up high on list. But depending who is writing they all have different experiences that contradict the other writer.
So what is the best outdoor finish that:
-Does not need to be refreshed every year,
-Protect from the elements (rain, sun etc…)
-Protect against UV
-Does not require a degree in finishing to apply
-Is not too dangerous to handle.

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

I dont claim to be an expert on exterior finishes, but I have tested a couple that have proved thus far to do well.. one is called One Time, its an oil based product, and the second is the System Three Marine Spar varnish. I used it on 10 white oak deck chairs that are sitting outside in Vermont, it s only been 8 months on them but they look like new. The one time I put it on some old treated plywood, it still looks good . I much prefer a oil or penetrating product over a film finish, because they are easier to renew and dont peel or flake.. Just my experience and opinion, I feel sure others have other experiences.
I have also often used exterior paint untinted, it then becomes a water base clear coating , I have also used General finishes, Exterior 450 , and thus far 2 years no issue .

Now days for the home, I really like composits and vinyl …HA HA ( not really , im a wood guy)

Thanks Charles.

I have read the same on untinted paint. I am curious and will probably give that a try.

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA