Had planned to use a tung oil finish on red oak to be used as a model display
indoor use only, and after reading the many posts on the use of this product -
called tung oil finishes, not confident this is the best way to go.
Desired end result is a low lustre, rich finish that can be completed in a
brief period of time.
From my limited understanding, a poly finish is not preferred.
The wood has been stained using Minwax's wood finish product.
I have a can of Bartley's gel varnish - although will likely have to destroy the
to get it off.
Any and all recommendations are greatly appreciated.
The gel varnish may give you what you want -- test on a piece of scrap.
You might try a natural Danish oil, that will give a low luster, but not
sure how it will interact with your stain. If you use any oil or
penetrating finish, be aware that oak will bleed the finish for quite some
time after application, so make sure you make periodic checks to wipe up
any weeping pores or you will have dried oil beads (happened to somebody
who lives in my neighborhood).
If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough
Personally, I would get a pint of boiled linseed oil and a pint of
turpentine and some wiping rags.
Cut BLO with turps per instructions on can and wipe on, wipe off per
Johnson's paste wax after BLO/turps dries (20-30 days) is optional.
Decide how the stand will be used and maintained, then tailor your
finish to suit that need. If it is to be dusted and cleaned
frequently, tung oils and their cousins are not the way to go as they
will not fill any pores in the oak. This means that once the fine
dust gets in them over a period of years, you won't get it out.
Why? With today's modern finishes, I would hate to live on the edge
of difference between some of resin finishes the these days. After
application, I can't tell the difference between a regular long oil
varnish (not talking spar here) and poly after they dry. Usually, the
poly is harder, but not always.
Don't be spooked by those that simply parrot what they hear about the
correct way to finish projects. If you see a nice poly job with the
proper sheen you will be surprised how warm and soft it will feel.
If this is the oil variety, mind Mark's post above about beading and
drying. That particular stain can easily take a couple of weeks to
completely dry if you are in humid conditions. Wiping, brushing or
padding a finish could be your undoing as the solvents in the finish
will lift the stain colorants up into the finish.
And since the above types of application are usually performed with
thinned finishes raising the VOCs and making it "hotter", it can
easily remove your stain job.
If this is a model stand for viewing of your work, why not use
lacquer? This is the traditional finish for furniture, and all kinds
of other mill work. You can buy the lacquer in rattle cans and spray
it on, and second coat in under 1/2 hour. Build the finish where you
want it. Allow it to dry hard for a couple of weeks and you can knock
down the gloss to the desired reflectivity with scotch brite pads.
Unless you buy upper end steel wool, I wouldn't use sw unless you
clean it first in naptha or something similar. Sw is treated from the
factory with different kinds of waste oil to keep it from rusting;
this can end up on your project.
An alternative is to buy some poly semi gloss in rattle cans. This is
easy to spray. You have to wait a long time for recoats, but the long
working makes it easy to control the finish application.
When I need a quick finish on a small project, I use rattle cans, and
have found them to be very satisfactory.
Spraying would keep you from lifting the finish as well. However, if
you use poly spray unless you wait until the stain is completely dry,
you can still see some of the beading Mark referenced, even when
sprayed. With lacquer, the finish will dry so quickly that it doesn't
bead the stain unless you really LOAD up the material when spraying.
And to the OP, keep in mind your conditions if you're going to spray. Being
the idiot I am, one time I used a can of blue spray paint in my living room
to paint some cast iron legs for a work bench. It wasn't until I was
finished I noticed that most everything in my living room had a bluish tinge
On Fri, 26 Dec 2008 23:57:37 -0600, "Douglas R. Hortvet, Jr."
First, be aware that most "Tung Oil" finishes don't use tung oil, or
have so little tung oil in them that part is irrelevant. Your product
could be a wiping varnish, an oil finish, or an oil/varnish blend.
Second, the open pores of oak, as others have mentioned, will leak the
oil back until that oil has fully cured.
There is no one "best way" to finish. There are tradeoffs in terms of
time and effort. For my taste, using an oil or oil/varnish finish is
about as easy as it gets. But it doesn't look as good after a period
of time, and you may find you want to reapply the oil now and again.
So, my preference is to apply a topcoat, often after using an oil or
sometimes a stain. I use stain less often than many will, but usually
I want something to bring out the grain.
If you want a very smooth surface, you can flood the suface with your
chosen oil finish and wet sand it with some 400 grit wet/dry
sandpaper. The dust/oil slurry will fill the pores. And should take
care of the "leak back" problem. Here's a write up someone did on that
You can get a low lustre on a poly surface, or any other topcoat,
including your gel varnish (if formulated to be a "gloss" finish), by
"rubbing out" after the finish has cured, using a grey scotchbrite
type pad or wet/dry sandpaper.
n Fri, 26 Dec 2008 23:57:37 -0600, "Douglas R. Hortvet, Jr."
I'm surprised no one meantioned shellac. Shellac seals and dries very
quickly. It shows off the grain too. Applying several coats doesn't
take long either. I'd use a 2lb cut with pad applicator. You can
lay at least 3 coats per day with very light sanding between coats.
In three days, it is done and dry enough for delivery: although,
give it a month before any furniture wax.
I like shellac as well, though I'm not sure if I'd use it as my
finish. For a model stand, it'd probably be fine, but I like
something that is a little more impervious.
I like to stain, apply a thin coat of shellac to seal the pores and
act as a barrier coat, then use a satin finish brushing lacquer. Lots
of warmth, no bleed out in porous woods, and it's a fast finish.
First a very light coat of shellac to close all the pores of the
wood. Then (and whooda thunkut) Minwax Poly Urethane. Several thin
coats - at least 7 and the final coat can be wet sanded with 800 grit
wet or dry paper with a mist of water. This will be a high coat as
smooth as glass and hard as a rock. Just a suggestion since the call
me Minwax Mac besides Jummy. LOL!
Many Thanks for the great suggestions - there just is nothing better than to
the experience of others.
Of all the recommendations, the shellac and spray lacquer finish sounds best to
The wood has several linear areas extending the full length that have very open
bigger than pores, IMO.
Will shellac fill openings in the grain that are deep enough to catch a finger
What about specific manufacturer / product recommendations - are there products
or specifically try to use?
Realize this will certainly be the result of individual experiences - which are
better than mine, which are none.
Checking the Minwax products - see they have a clear brushing lacquer - however
Again - my sincerest Thanks to everyone for their valuable comments, which will
retained for future reference.
No. Shellac or any other finish will simply mirror the texture of the
substrate you are finishing. And with red oak... you couldn't have
picked a tougher wood to try to smooth out. The tubules are deep and
large, and while many finishes will easily span the pores, they will
not fill them on their own. The exception being of course, that you
use the classic approach of applying several thick built up coats that
you will cut down later with a buffer or using the french polish
Make no mistake, the shellac or any other finish will help mitigate
the texture of the pores, but it won't go away by a long shot. If the
project isn't too big, apply the shellac, let it sit for a couple of
days, then sand it smooth. Apply a couple more coats in the same
fashion, sanding all coats with at least 220 grit quality sandpaper,
cleaning with mineral spirits in between sandings. Carefully sand
with the grain.
Resist the temptation so sand with anything higher than 320 grit.
With finishes that resolvate (dissolve into each other rather than
simply adhering) there simply isn't any need to do so. If you finish
"balls" or "rolls" up under your sandpaper (wrapped around a block,
right?) you need to give your finish more cure time. The lacquer will
not melt into the shellac, so make the last coat of shellac as smooth
as you can.
Apply the lacquer over the final shellac coat. I wouldn't put less
than three coats of lacquer over this. You will be surprised how well
the shellac/lacquer combo will hold up.
Personally, I have had great experiences with Deft lacquer for years.
It sprays well and has a good quality nozzle on the can so it will lay
out a nice finish. After using spray can, if there is material left
in the can remember to turn it upside down and spray out the remaining
material in the pickup tube and the nozzle. It will spray almost pure
air when the nozzle is clean.
I have also used the newer Rustoleum clear lacquers and the best
aspect of them is they dry really hard for a lacquer. The coats build
nicely and it is easy to apply.
I would personally stay away from the water borne stuff in a spray can
as no one I know has had any luck with them yet. I read (although I
haven't used them) that there are problems with the applicators, with
recoating, and with witness lines.
You are in pretty good hands around here. There are many that do
finishing here (like me) professionally as part of their business.
Read through the archives of the group and you will find all kinds of
methods and experiences on finishing.
I wouldn't tackle brushing lacquer unless you have a really small
project. Brushing lacquer requires patience, the right equipment and
the right technique. I have used a lot of brushing lacquer, but only
if it is a smooth, featureless surface like a door. Even then, I pad
it as brushing a couple of larger pieces out was a real pain.
I still remember my first brushing of lacquer as it was a disaster. I
was used to "long oils" and paints that gave you plenty of time to go
over any brush strokes or holidays left behind.
Not so with the lacquer. For me, it was like brushing on warm taffy.
The first few brush strokes were great, after that it was all down
hill. Everything started to dry immediately, any attempts at repairs
"on the fly" were disaster, and the brush became a clump of semi dried
resins. I found out at that time any brush strokes, holidays, or bugs
can only be sanded out after a proper curing time.
After I learned how easy lacquer was to spray, I have never brushed
anything since that time (25 years?).
Good luck on your project and let us know how it came out.
If you use an oil based finish the easiest, old-fashioned, low-tech solution
to filling the pores in red oak or other open pored woods is plaster of
Paris... After the surface is hand planed/sanded apply the plaster of Paris,
let it dry, sand it off, vacuum and tack rag the surface, and then apply
your oil based finish. The plaster of Paris becomes transparent with the
Note that this will not work for filling gouges and other defects as the
plaster will show up if it's too thick. For grain filling and minor surface
defects it works just fine. Obviously, try some samples to get a feel for
this before doing, say, the top of a large table. ;~)
If you are using stain play with the plaster before and after staining to
see what works with your combination of wood, stain and finish.
I find this is a lot faster than applying myriad thick coats of finish and
sanding them smooth as the plaster dries fast and sands quickly.
Robert and others,
Thanks again very much for the great advice.
Bought the shellac and spray lacquer this afternoon.
The shellac is by Zinsser and is 3 lb cut - so must thin to get to a 2 lb cut as
Was rather damp and cool in Houston area today - so will get underway tomorrow.
Certainly realize that most if not all procedures can sound much easier than
actually takes for a correct / proper execution and the desired end results.
You mention letting the shellac coats sit for several days - although the can
in an hour. Rather imagine that is the VOE speaking i.e., Voice of Experience.
Will report back when done - or have gone astray.
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