Chessboard protection


Hello,
I purchased a wooden chess board - it came with a small typed note. Handmade 1987. Shellac and wax 3 times. Made of Tasmanian Oak and Silkwood.
It looks beautiful- the chess squares are all individually handlaid and distinct. I think the maker used a different woods for the white squares and black.
However, when i rubbed the board - it still felt quite rough. I always thought that shellac and wax would have given it a nice waxy finish.
What's the best way to protect it? Is there an oil I can purchase to rub it- to prevent it from cracking from age/dry conditions.
Reason why I asked is that a few of my imported furniture has cracked or shrank when I brought them back to Australia.
Any comments?
Cheers!
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James Martin wrote:

Paste wax. NOT spray wax, which is mostly solvent and may even contain silicon oils.
Shellac is about the best finish for stabilizing wood with respect to humidity, so you probably cannot improve on what you have already.

Problems like that happen when furniture is subjected to rapid swings in humidity and temperature, especially the former. Just changing the humidity in the ambient environment may be enough to cause problems but a rapid change will expecially stress the wood as it creates a moisture gradient in the wood so that part of the wood is trying to expand or contract more than the adjacent fibers.
--

FF


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finish for stabilizing wood with respect to

Hello Fred,
Sorry to ask such a dumb question. But how can I tell if shellac and wax has been applied? Should it feel smooth? The board's surface feels a bit rough.
Cheers,
JJ
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James Martin wrote:

Now that's a good point.
Shellac over rough wood will still be rough for a couple of coats unless the shellac is mixed very thick. Shellac is a film finish like a lacquer or a varnish there should be a visible film on the wood if it was shellaced.
You can also tell by rubbing a cloth with a little alcohol on it, but only try that somewhere that does not show--it will lift the finish if it is shellac.
If it is not shellaced, then shellacing it would be a good way to finish it. DAGS this newsgroup about mixing shellac from flakes and applying it, as well as the different grades.
--

FF


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Dear Fred,
Thank you for your considerate response. I was worried I'd get a standard newbie rough reply.
I very much appreciate your comment on shellac. Will try and show the board to a (distant carpenter friend) and ask his opinion on it before trying to use any alcohol.
I only used something (purporting to be shellac) years ago and it was more like varnish. And the instructions weren't in English- so I'm not even sure whether it was really shellac.
Cheers,
JJ
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James Martin wrote:

Because shellac is alcohol based it dires very fast and the smell is quite different from other finishes. There are at least two common bands of denatured alcohol sold in the US. One has ketones in it and really stinks. The other (SLX, I think) is just methanol and ethanol and is much more bearable to use. You can check the label. Ordinary rubbing alcohol will lift shellac, just more slowly than denatured.
One of the good things about shellac is that if you mess it up, you can scrub it off with a cloth soaked in alcohol. No need to sand or scrape.
Alcohol will also damage hide glue, so it may lift veneer on antiques if it is allowed to soak through the veneer. Just finishing veneer with shellac will not hurt the glue though.
--

FF


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