Advice on wood finsh please...

Hi,
I'm not a great woodworker - background is electronics...
I want to make a smart, modern case for a nixie (valve) clock I've made...
I've got a nice strip of 10mm x 110mm x 1000mm beech (planed) that I will make the small box out of.
I'm looking for a finish that is almost unnoticable and matt (to show off the nice wood, and not to refelect the glowing nixie tubes), that would be easy to clean and be long lasting... oil? varnish?
Also, I.m in the UK, so UK-available products would be a help...
Many thanks for your advice...
Mike
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Mike -
You may wish to try here as well...:
http://www.ukworkshop.co.uk/forums/index.php
Under the "Finishing Advice" forum...
Cheers -
Rob
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Another option is Jeff Jewitt site www.homesteadfinishing.com and look for Selecting a Finish for his article. AAAArticle title is close to that but may not be verbatim.
wrote:

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How about wax, oil, or a combination thereof? Not much protection but better than nothing. You can always dust it. If it deteriorates, you can always apply more. Varnish sounds like overkill for your needs.
Good Luck.

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On Fri, 11 Jun 2004 16:40:02 +0100, "Mike Deblis"

Here's a very bad picture of mine, whilst half-made
http://codesmiths.com/shed/clocks/nixie_wood_loose.jpg
The base is now machined, similar to the top, and it's assembled and almost finished.
I've also added the setting buttons - wooden plungers, working microswitches inside.
The prototype was even worse !
http://codesmiths.com/shed/clocks/nixie_cardboard.jpg
(that's cardboard, not MDF)
I found that patinated hammer-finish copper made a good bezel for Nixies, and I really needed to use a light tint on the glass to get good contrast. Clear glass with some craft-shop tint on the back was adequate.

Oil. A half-litre can of Liberon's finishing oil is easy to work with and easy to find. Buy it from most decent toolshops, or www.axminster.co.uk if you're stuck. Apply with kitchen paper towels, apply _thinly_ and you'll want three or four coats - half hour between them in this weather.
--
Smert' spamionam

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I'd consider oil and wax, or a super blonde shellac and wax.
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Mike Deblis wrote:

Shellac.
--
Morris Dovey
DeSoto, Iowa USA
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Considering the handling the piece would probably get, one can reasonably assume not much, an oil should be fine and give you the look you want. Though any oil is going to impart an amber tint.
I favor a Danish oil but boiled linseed oil or tung oil should be just fine.
--
Mike G.
Heirloom Woods
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I second Mike G's Tung oil. I am into my first project (electronics background as well) and found the Tung oil fit my needs, which were similar to yours. It's quite the pain in @ss to apply though, and they tell me the oily rags can spontaneously combust....FIRE HAZARD.
All the Best,
-- KB

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Do what they do commercially, and thin with mineral spirits. Else, warm your container in a crockpot or double-boiler arrangement to reduce viscosity somewhat. Turners have been known to apply oil to a warm piece fresh from the microwave.
Mike's "Danish oil" is thinned tung or linseed with some resins added.
The curing of tung or linseed is an exothermic reaction. Make like a perp and spread 'em so the heat can escape.

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If you are lucky, these days it can be some form of polymerized soy oil.
--
Mike G.
Heirloom Woods
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Mike G wrote:

Varnish (pretty much any) cut 50% makes a more durable "oil finish" than actual oil. The two are nearly impossible to tell apart.
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The basic home brew Danish oil is 1/3 tung oil. 1/3 mineral spirits, 1/3 varnish.
So, yes varnish cut 50% would look pretty much like a Danish oil. Actually they all, oil finishes, look, as far as tone or color, like a varnish finish without the build.
Danish oil is be a pretty generic term that I would define as an oil finish containing resins that can be absorbed into the wood cells and is not meant to be nor would provide, due to it's high oil content, a good surface finish..
Danish oil's basic components is, after all, the same as a surface building varnish. Oil, carrier/thinner, resins. Cutting varnish 50% would certainly qualify the results as a Danish oil with the single exception that if you were to, for some unfathomable reason, apply enough coats, you could build it into a good surface varnish finish. It wouldn't make any sense to do so but......
By playing with the ratio's of the 1/3 formula you can vary the properties of your home brew Danish oil. While varnish cut 50% will, eventually, provide some more protection then some other possible combination of the ingredients I would venture to opine that, due to the low oil content, while it would cure quicker then a mix containing more oil, it would require more coats to obtain the same level of sheen that the basic 1/3 formula would. It is, after all, the oil not the resins that imparts the character to the wood.
As for the extra protection, I use a Danish oil over a straight BLO or tung oil for that very reason so I'm certainly can't quibble there. But, one must keep in mind, when weighing the benefits of an oil finish, that what ever level of protection a Danish oil gives over a non resin containing oil, it is still far inferior to a surface finish and I'd only recommend it on projects not receiving a lot of day to day handling/use of where the piece might be subject to standing liquids.
As for the ratio of the basic components, what ever floats you boat is fine with me. And, for the original poster, you have to consider the properties of the ingredients and experiment to find the mix you like, be it varnish cut 50%, a 1/3 mix, or some variation there of. In the long run they all pull into the same station.
Just a thought.
--
Mike G.
Heirloom Woods
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