BLO/Poly/Solvent advice

I decided to try a 1:1:1 mixture of BLO/MinWax Gloss Poly/Naphtha on my current project, a set of CD shelves. (made of Oak ply) I've got 3 coats on and I like what I see, but I have questions.
I read somewhere that you have to be careful not to leave any "wet" spots; if you do, they allegedly remain gummy forever.
I applied the mixture (with a t-shirt piece) and wiped it off after a few minutes. I didn't time it; probably 5-8 minutes. I found that a smattering of little wet dots (1/16" -1/8" in diameter) would reappear quickly, after which I would re-wipe. (I used common paper towels for the wiping, changing them often)
I repeated this quite a few times, but I don't think I ever ended up with no wet dots at all. I told myself these were the inner surfaces of a project that will be filled with CDs and let it go after maybe 5 wipings.
Come the next day, I couldn't see any gummy or shiny spots. I've repeated the same process for 3 coats total, leaving at least 48 hours in-between.
It seems (on cursory inspection) that I've succeeded in avoiding the wet-spot problems, but I wonder if I really needed to work that hard at it. How long should I wait before wiping? How fastidious do I need to be?
Some more questions:
What is the recommended interval between coats? How many coats are required? (I like the "look" right now after 3 coats, but maybe more are needed for durability?) How is the durability anyway? Do I need to move on to what I've heard is the "second" formula, the one with beeswax? Or can I just leave well enough alone?
This method looks really promising so far. There's no visible layer of plasticky finish, and the color is pretty nice too. But I'd like to refine my technique a bit before I do the outside surfaces, not to mention future projects.
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On Friday, December 6, 2013 11:58:50 AM UTC-6, Greg Guarino wrote:



I guess my first question would be this; with so many great finishing prod ucts on the market, why would you make your own?
Although widely reviled by those who don't know how to use it properly, Min wax is a perfectly good finish. I use it along with others, and have never once had a warranty issue from using that product.
So... naptha will thin Minwax; so will gasoline. Neither are the preferred solvents. BLO adds nothing to finish except to "plasticize" it for easier application. It also degrades the abrasion resistance as well as the over all integrity of the final protective layer. If you have to thin the produ ct, follow the manfacturer's MSDS sheet or info they provide. I have seen more projects ruined than I can count by garage engineers that can't leave the finishes alone and use some formula from the internet that everyone rav es about. Today's finishes are easy to apply, forgiving, and inexpensive.
If you are looking for a good wearing, renewable finish that you can home b rew, ask Karl to post his Maloofian formula. It is great interior formula for furniture (if you don't have big kids or dogs) and surfaces that don't need constant washing or cleaning like table tops.
If your wet spots are showing up in EXACTLY the same places, you most likel y have a contaminated surface that was not properly prepared. I wash all s urfaces that receive clear coat with lacquer thinner or mineral spirits. R egardless of what you see or what you know has happened to your material si nce it has been in your possession, a lot of things can happen on the way t o the lumber yard.
If the wet spots aren't on the same place and they actually form wet areas with rounded edges, you home brew material isn't fully mixed. Remember, th e finish you are modifying was originally sold as a complete package... you changed the chemical makeup of a carefully engineered material made to exa cting standards in your garage. Compatibility isn't assured. Try warming up the mix until it is warm to the touch and stir mechanically for about te n minutes. That may do it.
To test the durability of your home brew, do this. Take a piece of scrap, and put some home brew, then some Minwax next to it. Say a couple of strip s about 4 inches wide and six inches long. Apply a couple of coats of each . Let it dry.
Hit both with a piece of 220gr paper on the edge and examine the finish und er a magnifying glass. In another area, try lightly scraping the surface w ith a dime. On the remaining area, leave a glass with a wet bottom on the surface for a couple of hours. All should be revealed...
Robert
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On 12/6/2013 1:25 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

The obvious answer is because I read that some people use such a mixture and I thought I'd try it out. I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a novice at woodworking.

I've used a number of MinWax products as well, sometimes with pretty good results. But this experiment has produced a look I have yet to get from any of the products I've tried so far.

I've heard that people use mineral spirits as well. I flipped a mental coin.
Neither are the

Although my knowledge is scant, I have little doubt that adding oil "weakens" the protective layer. But is that *all* it does? It doesn't change the resulting "look"?
If you have to thin the product, follow the

I'm looking for a finish (for some projects) that will yield essentially no visible "thickness" and low lustre. I am more than happy to learn from people who know more than I do. That's how I've gotten so smart. :)
So, any suggestions? I've tried MinWax poly in various glosses, sometimes made into "wiping" poly with Mineral Spirits. I've tried Waterlox. I've bought a couple of colors of MinWax PolyShades to try them out, but have not found them satisfactory for any real project.

I think he uses store-bought Maloof, and yes, I intend to try that someday as well.

I did that too, but I do suspect it's a surface issue. It does not seem to have caused any visible problem though.
Regardless of what you see or what you know has

Interesting. I'll remember that.

Again, if hardiness were my only goal, I'm sure even I would know not to use some sort of oil blend. But it's not my only goal, and is in fact a lower priority on this project. I'm storing nice dry CD jewel cases, the bulk of which will be put into the unit exactly once, unless someone wants to read the liner notes.
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Tried tung oil? Or plain old linseed oil?
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On Friday, December 6, 2013 4:04:18 PM UTC-6, Greg Guarino wrote:

in.
Both naptha and mineral spirits are petroleum distillates, as is gasoline. Gasoline has both light and heavy naptha as its main ingredients, percenta ge-wise (to my knowledge, at least. That's what we blended at Placid Refin ery, when I worked there. Back then, lead was added to the mix, also.). G asoline contains more heavy naptha, than light naptha, volume-wise, in the blend.
I've always understood mineral spirits is (mainly) a blend of several diffe rent grades of naptha OR a particular grade of naptha. WikiP seems to con firm this (See "chemical Numbers" chart): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whit e_spirit
Maybe today's "blends" (gasoline or mineral spirits) are different, than wh en I worked in this field.
In essence, I've agreed with Robert and DadiOH: Adding naptha to the mix o nly thinned your application.
One other thing I've done, before: Wipe down a project with mineral spirit s prior to any finishing. This wiping (wash-coating) can reveal where ther e may be contaminates on the wood, that may affect the finish. The wash-co at allows you to see and remove any contaminates, before finishing. A napt ha wash-coat will do the same thing and many folks do the wipe/wash with na ptha, especially after stripping a previously finished piece.... to find wh ere there is still old finish on the piece.
An aspect of oil applications that I try to follow: I've never blended an oil with something else, then apply it. With an oil application, not only do I wipe off any excess, but I rub it in, hard. Hard and fast, to produc e heat, when rubbing. I learned this from studying piano makers techniques , who rubbed their oil applications to heat it up.... i.e., some aspect of "cooking" the oil onto the piece. Traditional piano makers used this techn ique, applying several oil coatings, before applying multiple coating of wh atever topcoats were used, varnishes, black lacquers, etc. I've only appli ed lacquer to the oil coating I've applied.
Sonny
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Keep in mind that YOMV.
What you are doing is making a thinned down, long oil varnish put of the poly. Why?
If you want it thinner so you can wipe on, thin the varnish. Paint thinner will do, naptha evaporates faster.
If you wipe on enough coats of your mix, it will be glossy (ier). Dunno if the dried oil will reduce the sheen of straight varnish but I suspect so. The additional oil will (eventually) make the coating darker too.
Why do you add more oil? All it does is make the varnish softer and more flexible. Do you need either?
In short, it seems to me you re going to a lot of work and gaining nothing. Again, YOMV.
The "wet dots" are oil oozing out of the wood pores. And yes, BLO - even when fully cured - is gummy, sticky and soft. ________________
BLO story
My wife's former step father - now dead and not missed - visited us onetime. He admired a room divider I had made from walnut. It was approximately 96x96x24. Although one piece, the top portion was suspended over the lower to provide a buffet surface, maybe 18" between upper and lower. Upper and lower sections were split vertically to provide 12" deep space from each side. It was a nice looking piece, left it there when we sold the condo. Only way to get it out without cutting into pieces would have been with a crane.
ExFIL liked it, took copious measurements (he was incapable of building/designing from a concept) and had it made when he and MIL returned to the mainland. He had it made of birch - or maybe maple - but modified it into a gigantic 96x96x24 campaign chest that stood against a wall in the living room. IIRC, he had it divided into 16 - drawers each roughly 24x24x24". It was, to be kind, massive. It was also essentially unuseable for anything other than - maybe - blankets.
In true DIY spirit finshed it himself with BLO, not a good choice unless one likes yellow wood. He also didn't wipe the oil off. It is a good thing they didn't have a cat because if a cat ever brushed against it the kitty would have been stuck for all nine lives.
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On 12/6/2013 2:32 PM, dadiOH wrote:

I used to finish the fir items I made with varnish, first a sealer (thinned varnish) and then varnish. I liked the "golden" look and what it did with the grain. Poly has no color (that I can tell).
What replicates this with today's materials?
Woodworking almost seems like plumbing. You wait 10 years and everything is different. I was surprised to see that varnish is not easy to come by. My kitchen wound up coated in Ceramithane (or similar product), that wasn't even on my radar until a trip to the Benny Moore store.
Jeff

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Well, water base poly doesn't have any color once dried but is milky when wet. Oil poly - all I have ever seen - is amber out of the can, darkens more over time (due, I think, to the oil). Which is one reason I like oil base...I like the color it imparts and the fact that it pops the grain; the other reason is that I find it more durable. _______________

Oil poly. Or oil followed by the top coat of your choice after the oil cures. My top coat of choice is lacquer due to its ease of application and repair but it doesn't impart quite as much color as varnish so I sometimes do oil then lacquer. _______________

Water poly would look about the same; difference is acrylic + poly in Ceramithane
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wrote: <snip>

I've used a similar recipe many times and also like the look.
I use a lot of oak, and most types of oil finish will show the effect you saw. Oak has big pores and they get filled with oil. After you wipe it down, the oil in the pores tends to seep back out and makes the little dots. I just keep wiping the surface every few minutes until the seeping stops.
It usually decreases with subsequent coats as the pores gradually get filled up.
You can avoid the effect, and get a smoother finish faster, by using paste wood filler on open grain woods like oak and mahagany. Not filler like plastic wood filler, but paste filler made to fill the wood pores.
Here's a link:
http://www.woodmagazine.com/materials-guide/finishes/filling-grain-for-perfect-finishing/
Good luck and have fun!
Paul F.
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Greg - the only way you can get the finish you want is to practice. Too fe w people want to put the time in the craft of finishing to do it well. It is not rocket science by any means, and I try to advocate for the easiest m ethods possible to take the mystery out of good finishing.
That being said, I do this as part of my job as a contractor. I have to gu arantee my finishes and their application, as well as long term appearance. So my thoughts may not align with many folks. There are many that like t he actual application, reapplication, and then the same thing over and over and over to build finishes. If that is what someone wants to do, so be it . I look for appearance, utility, speed and repeatability. And of course, a finish I can warrant against defects.
There is a lot to learn to be a great finisher, a process I don't believe e ver ends. However, one can be a good finisher, a competent finisher and ce rtainly a few rungs above your contemporaries with some practice and dilige nce. As I said before, like any craft finishing takes practice.
THAT being said, don't practice on your projects. Take those old scraps an d odds and ends and make a lab of tests, keeping good notes. Try different finishes, different techniques, different products, etc. on the stuff that will go into your next bonfire or trash pickup. When I am challenged with a new product or want to find its boundaries, I like to buy door skins or damaged birch (or any hardwood plywood) to practice on. I measure off squa res with blue painter's tape and number the squares and keep notes on the f inish.
Using that method, you can try plain BLO next to urethane or varnish for co mparison. You can compare different products easily as well as different b rands. This is a great way to compare appearance, re-coat times, as well a s the number of coats needed to get the appearance you want. Additionally, you can have the hands on experience of testing out abrasion resistance.
Also, you can observe how the different ingredients and finishes work on wo od. For example, eventually (unless there is a reaction in a home brew) BL O will dry out. It leaves a very dark color to most woods and will obscure the grain in something like American (NOT French) black walnut altogether. BLO is "boiled linseed oil" which has not been boiled at all. It is an a gricultural product derived from the flax seed, and is squeezed out, filter ed and has metallic driers mixed in to dry it. So it is one kind of oil. Tung is different. The good stuff is 100% tung oil from the nut, and has m uch less amber hue (flax seeds are brown so the color of the oil in a prono unced amber) but has not driers in it. Eventually it will air cure and dry up, but for it to be used as an ingredient for finishing all manner of che micals and processes are used to make it workable. When I belonged to a pr ofessional finisher's forum, it was discovered and well documented by one o f the crew that a large study revealed there was less than 2% tung nut oil was in the can. The manufacturer defended itself by saying that it was tun g oil "FINISH", not tung oil for finishing.
The point of that is that there is no regulation on any of the finishing pr oducts we commonly see except by the govt. to monitor the VOC and metallic content. They can call their products pretty much anything the want.
dadiOH is absolutely right about the appearance of BLO, varnishes and even urethanes. They all add an amber hue to the wood, which is a by product of the oils used to make the finish. These oils tend to darken over time unt il some will turn very yellow. Personally, even though I can buy any finis h I want I have found that my clients respond well to woods finished with M inwax poly as it seems to give just the right "warmth" (read: amber hue) th ey want on their clear finished work. I have found Minwax urethane easy to work with, remarkably consistent in use, and my clients love its durabilit y. Too pedestrian for most "woodworkers", it is a solid performer for me a nd my clients.
I do not like wipe on finishes. Too much effort for the end product. But. .. they have a place. WATCO is a favorite here, and it is nothing more tha n a high quality, super thin long oil urethane. It is as easy to put on as wiping the wood. A few thin coats look nice and with the right coloration can give your project the appearance of a hand rubbed finish. It takes a long time to build up to a protective finish, but it might be your cup of t ea.
One last thing. If you are looking for a non-yellowing finish, try one of the new water based urethanes. I would strongly advise you not to use big box stores products such as Olympic, Varathane (they make a great oil poly, though), Minwax, or anything else you find there. Their products have the earmark of a bad waterborne finish, and that is chromatic reflectivity. Y ou can see a blue hue in different lights. Not acceptable.
Go to a real paint store like Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, etc. and tr y their products or something like an ML Cambell water based products. All make excellent products for clear sealing purpose and are well used and ac cepted in the professional finishing industry as solid performers.
Were I in your shoes, I would go to the half price book store or check Amaz on for book by Bob Flexnor and a couple of others. Flexnor's books are exc ellent, and I like Jeff Jewitt's as well. Occasionally, you can find other gems from lesser known authors about furniture finishing/refinishing, and they might have just what you are looking for in them. I have more books o n finishing than I have on woodworking!
I wanted to take the time to type this out as I like helping someone that w ants to learn. Most folks don't, they are too smart for that. But if you come to this venue there are a lot of smart folks as you have seen, ready t o help. Many have learned what they know as many of us have, by using tria l and error as well as from one another. No doubt if you get involved in a nother project there will be plenty of folks here ready to help.
Robert
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Just one comment to augment Robert's excellent tome. How dark BLO will get/appear is directly proportional to the amount left in the wood. And that depends upon the grain of the wood AND the smoothness of the surface.
Take two pieces of the same wood, sand one up to, say, #120 and the other to #220. Apply oil to each, let it sit the same amount of time, then wipe off all remaining. Ultimately, the more coarsely sanded piece will be much darker. Which is why I said "get/appear" above...the BLO in the more coarsely sanded piece gets no darker than that in the more finely sanded piece but there is more of it; therefore, it appears darker. ___________________

Ditto to Watco...easy to use, decent finish. Unfortunately, it is scarce to non-existent where I live.
One thing nailshooter didn't mention is lacquer. I don't have spray equipment but I use a fair amount of Deft which is a brushing lacquer (they make other things too, they call the lacquer "Clear Wood Finish" IIRC). I think it has a lot going for it...easy to apply, dries quickly, sands like a dream, provides a good and protective finish and is duck soup to repair. Many would also include shellac; I have nothing against it, just haven't had the need. And, of course, the guitar makers especially seem to like acrylic.
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