| It's probably finish soaking into end grain on contours
And how would this rise? I know oil tends to seep, especially when warmed,
so does that mean it soaks into the end grain and then re-emerges later to
harden outside when I'm not looking?
You may have a point. I just picked up a piece of fairly clear maple into
which I cut a contour and finished with 100% tung oil. It's badly roughened
where the contour exposes end grain. And this is "young" maple as opposed
to the very old maple scraps on which I'm practicing (and in which the grain
direction is ambiguous). As opposed to the other woods, the roughness seems
to be the color of (drum roll, please) cured tung oil. So in some cases at
least it appears I'm getting seepage from the end grain.
Very well, the technique covers that: wipe it off as it seeps and before it
hardens. Seems I need to pay more attention to these guys during long-term
| though there may be some grain raising from any water in
| the finish and/or wax solution, or moisture getting in
| from exposed areas where the finish was buffed off.
Hm. That's worth a second thought. I live in Utah, so any airborne
moisture is purely accidental. But I didn't consider the possibility of
moisture stowing away in my waxes. Considering I've probably wet-sanded
and/or buffed too aggressively, I can see how that would expose a bare area
and raise some grain.
So I should sand less aggressively while building up the finish.
| Personally, I don't like wet sanding because it puts the
| face material into the nice shadowy areas of pore. I feel
| that a clear finish better fills those and leaves the full
| character of the wood.
Agreed. The technique I'm trying doesn't make any guarantees about the
final appearance, just the final feeling. The people I spoke to about their
finishes didn't say anything about wet-sanding, just that they sanded up to
grits resembling satin and then applied oil and wax. The wet-sanding
approach came from a handout I picked up somewhere. The idea of a slurry
filling the pores seems intuitively obvious, so I thought I'd give it a try.
But come to think of it, I have a towel rack that seems to already be mostly
what I'm after. I made it long before my mind was corrupted by all this
nuance. I heard of a guy who made fly-fishing nets whose wooden frames he
finished only with tung oil. The moral was supposed to be the
water-resistance and surprisingly durability of the finish. Anyway, I
sanded a maple dowel down to 600 or 800 and then just did the "once a day,
etc." application of tung oil. Since it's a dowel you can just work the oil
in with your fist. After eight coats of that or so, I had what I wanted.
Now I've put a wet towel on that thing every day for a year now and there's
not wear, no raising of grain, and no discoloration. It's as smooth today
as it was the day I put it up.
Maybe I'm just overthinking all of this.
I don't like trying to wet-sand with tung oil either. The stuff I've got is
pure, unadulterated tung oil and it's way thick. Half the time the
sandpaper just floats over a film of oil and the grit never seems to find
the surface. That doesn't feel right. I'm going to try wet-sanding with
some of the lighter Danish oils to see what that gives me. Everyone I've
talked to swears you can wet-sand effectively with tung oil, but I think
they must be using a lighter tung oil than I am.
| That's good. Most people will spend eons on the woodworking
| part and expect a finish to go on and out the door the same
I'm just doing it for me, so there's no profit to be lost. Even though it's
a hobby, it's something I want to learn to do right. For me it's not about
making money by selling clocks or furniture or croquet sets. It's about
learning how to make something that looks great. And if that means sanding
until your arms fall off and layering oil or varnishes or dyes or waxes or
the secretions of some Guatemalan beetle until the shop smells like a Sumo
wrestler's jock strap, that's what I'll do. I don't have a lot of money to
spend, but I'm not opposed at all to spending time.
| Sanding finishes is way overplayed.
Probably. I've found there's a lot of room for individual preferences.
Some people like certain looks and feels, and within each look and feel
there's a whole gamut of methods to obtain it. At this point my approach
is, "try everything and see what you like."
| I know that lots of "serious" woodworkers shy away from the
| oils but I absolutely prefer them over other finishes.
As do I.
My parents, as I said, were big believers in oiled furniture. We had
custom-made furniture and commercial furniture with oil finishes.
Unfortunately the dining room table suffered through a year of careless
renters and ended up with a number of water rings on it. One of these days
I will undertake to repair that for them since they still have it. But I'll
want to be more confident of my skills before I do anything like that.
Anyhow, my point was that the professional wood workers may shy away from
oils not just for the time it takes to complete the finish, but also the
perceived poor durability of the finish. Put a few coats of lacquer on
something and you can dump Jell-O, coffee, or baby slobber all over it and
it will just wipe off. People who commit to defending and preserving an oil
finish seem to be in the minority, and so I can't imagine a lot of people
who do this for a living will consider that a huge market segment.
| I don't like glossy, glaring finishes on 99.5% of items.
Neither do I. The stuff I'm making now for practice is just the simple desk
and mantle clocks because the shaping is easy and it lets you concentrate on
the nuances of the finish. But they can still be sold or given away as
gifts. On these pieces I prefer a satin or dull finish with a very smooth
feel. But of course you'll find someone who likes the finish whether it
looks like it's coated in glass or whether it looks like bare wood. Ideally
I'd like to be able to do all kinds of finishes, regardless of my personal
Speaking of pianos, I've seen all kinds. I think the black stage models
look good in either a shiny or satin livery. And one of the most striking
finishes I've seen on a piano is a light neutral brown dye over an
open-grained hardwood with a very thick satin-rubbed clear coat. You can't
keep your eyes or your hands off of it. Not your typical piano, but it fits
very well into its environment (a church). Unfortunately it has been
damaged; it was near a window through which a vandal threw a brick. The
brick bounced off the lid of the piano and chipped the clear coat badly.
The wood underneath is undamaged, and thankfully there's an insurance payout
to have it repaired.
I've even seen pianos with the grain texture preserved. I see value in both
philosophies: fill the grain v. keep the grain. I figure I should learn
how to do both effectively.
| Give Waterlox a try. It's tung oil with varnish. It works just
| like Watco but builds about 5 times quicker and stinks less.
I'm beginning to think I've just got a bum bottle of tung oil. I'm pleased
with how it has worked in some cases, but I'm not pleased with how it has
facilitated what I'm doing now. But part of my experimentation plans call
for using different types of oils. I'm not married to 100% goopy tung oil;
it was just praised by someone who seemed to know what he was talking about.
| Ayup. Give her a few coats over a few days, wait a week, give
| her a really good buffing, then see what she looks like. Go
| from there.
When you say "buff" what exactly do you mean? Is this soft-cloth buffing
like what you'd do on hardened wax, or is this de-nibbing lightly with some
very fine abrasive? I've had a lot of people tell me to "buff", but I'm
never exactly sure what that entails.
| Or dry sand S L O W L Y and L I G H T L Y . You just want
| to take the nibs off, anything which feels like a sharp bump.
I'm trying to pay very close attention to sanding.
| G'luck! And do post pics on ABPF.
Okay, but no laughing. :-)