I made a coffee table from butcherboard knotty pine. For a
finish, I like using the old forumla: 1/3 BLO, 1/3 polyurethane,
1/3 tung oil. My question: Will this mixture hold up on pine
with spills and hot cups?
Personally, I don't know why you would add all that stuff to your
poly. If you want something that will take heat, is abrasion
resistant, and will cure hard, simply put on the poly.
There is no reason to put that other business in your poly. Although
your BLO probably had nothing to do with linseed (flax) oil, and your
tung oil is almost certainly not related to the nut, the will most
like have organic resins that will cause them to cure to a soft
To illustrate this to your own satisfaction and to compare abrasion
resistance, coloration, etc., try this:
Take a piece of the same pine you have made your project from and
apply one part of each of your 3 ingredients. Let them dry/cure for a
week or so. Run a piece of sandpaper across them; which one scratches
the easiest? Set something wet on each test area and leave it for an
hour or two. Which one has the least discoloration or damage?
You will easily see that the addition of the softer resins does
nothing for the longevity and durability of your finish.
If you are doing this to make some kind of wipe on finish, buy a
quality wipe on finish and use that.
Most finishes made today are made specifically to be used as they are
formulated. OF COURSE you can do anything you want with them, but
backyard alchemy isn't always a good solution. In this day and age
there are plenty of over the counter solutions to good finishes.
I have used, with great success, Akzo's Sikkens Autocryl Clear. It's
an automotive clear coat and it is truly clear like water.
One can infinitely alter the sheen by adding Matting Clear.
It is a 3-part product that can also be made to flex a bit more with
Coat one, add an extra dose of thinner. and soak the pine till you
almost get runs.
Quickly clean your equipment.
Then sand with 320
Then spray on full strength Autocryl and you will get a finish which
will last and last, won't yellow and is very abrasive resistant. Be
careful spraying 5 piece kitchen cabinet doors, as it will adhere the
panel to the rails and stiles and break stuff. DAMHIKT
Then quickly clean your equipment again. You can do most of the
cleaning with regular lacquer thinner, but the final rinse should be
I have used this process in commercial applications and it wears like
It is a bit of a pain to handle, and for SURE wear high organic
compound mask. Better yet, use a positive air mask. The hardener will
kill you.... and I mean KILL you.
Drawback? And ONLY drawback? The stuff is expensive. 330,000 colours.
But.. it is a very high solids product and if you want high gloss,
Steinway piano black, with a wet look, that's the stuff.
Here's a price list: http://www.licariautobodysupply.com/pricelist/sikkens.htm
It will cost you around $ 400.00 for 1.5 gallons, but remember, very
little flashes off.
I grew up down wind from the original Sikkens factory in The
Netherlands and smelled my fair share of BLO, they didn't play with
acrylics in that factory, just varnishes. I never minded that scent
My kinda guy!! It's messy, hard to work with, needs specialized
equipment and safety procedures, requires proprietary cleaning
solvents, IT COULD KILL YOU, and the only fault you find is that -
I laughed hard enough to fall out of my chair on that one. I have
this picture of you sitting there saying "whuut?... what's so funny?"
If someone asked me to finish a table with that stuff I would tell
them to go soak their head in it!
Well, OK. That helps. RIGHT!!
I have only used their sealants and adhesives, and they are all top
notch. I have never had any call to use their high end "coatings".
The finish is a common formula. I think the might even sell it under
the Maloof brand. I love the way it goes on easily and dries hard,
keeping the feel of wood without the plastic polyurethane look and
feel. My question is whether anyone has any experience with its
durability on a soft wood like pine over a period of time.
Polyurethane is a varnish. In all the cases I know of it's a "short oil"
varnish. All you're doing with the mix is changing it into a "long oil"
varnish. You could do that a lot easier by just buying Watco.
This formula is a favorite of mine as well. It is attributed to Sam Maloof and
has the qualities you describe. It is also very easy to repair if there are
I haven't used it on pine, but I did use it on a maple kitchen table. It is
holding up very well.
Thanks for the input everyone. I think I'll use the 1/3rd
formula and see what happens. If it doesn't work out, I'll make
another table, minus the learning mistakes, e.g., sanding the
legs better when they are on the lathe!
Indeed, if that's all you want, put on poly. The way OP phrased the question,
poly is probably the best answer.
But the finish he is describing is a favorite of mine because it has much of the
wear resistance of poly, is closer to the wood (less "plasticky"), does an
excellent job of popping figure, and is very easy to repair.
Why is BLO not linseed oil with metallic dryers? That's what the can says. Why
is pure tung oil something else? I know "Tung Oil Finish" can be anything, but
pure tung oil comes from a nut.
There are a lot of good over the counter solutions to good finishes. There is a
lot of good over the counter furniture, too. But some of the nut jobs in this
group keep trying to build the stuff themselves.
In rereading my assumption, my language was probably too strong. I
said "probably", I could see how the statement could confuse. Not too
long ago (10 years?), it was a common practice for other, cheaper oils
to be added to "BLO". It finally got to the point in the professional
finishing community (of which I belong from time to time) questioned
what was in the BLO we were buying.
A call to the tech support of CROWN by me, and a couple of other
manufacturers confirmed there were different blends of oils in the BLO
formula to "enhance performance" and to "extend shelf life" and to
"ease application". Depending on the manufacturer, other oils
included soya and other vegetable oils that were treated to polymerize
when applied. Add this to the fact that BLO already has different
solvents and driers in it, and you are using only the component of the
There is no law that says "BLO must be of XX% to be considered pure"
or any other such nonsense. In fact, there is no law that says that
BLO has to be boiled, of which it never has been. So they are already
selling a mislabeled product. This also gives them to the latitude to
call their own blend of oils, solvents and driers "Boiled Linseed Oil"
since it is understood that there isn't such an animal.
See above. But you can rest easier knowing that tung oil
manufacturers are more careful than the BLO guys. Still, "pure tung
oil" doesn't mean that all that is in your bottle is pure tung. It
can have solvents, thinners, driers etc., to help the shelf life and
application process. Remember, this isn't food. Not all ingredients
will necessarily show up on the label.
Besides the fact that real 100% tung is really thick, takes a long
time to dry, and won't buff to a high shine, here's how to tell if you
have the real, unmodified recipe as mother nature made it.
If you are paying about $35 a quart, you probably have the real deal
with no additives or formula modification.
I am thinking that was some kind of sarcasm, but I may be wrong. In
any case, I would certainly encourage anyone that wanted to really
learn about finishing to take the time needed to set up controlled
Folk lore, word of mouth, "I knew a guy", "this is the way the old
Dutchmen did it" (it's OK... I'm a squarehead myself), and on an on
don't cut it when the rubber meets the road. To me, what counts is a
good looking, durable, WARRANTABLE finish.
If I can buy something over the counter that is bullet proof, I don't
usually get the thrill out of channeling my heritage to the point of
making my own home brew finishes.
And whilst we are throwing around Sam Maloof's name, if you are a fan
or disciple, he has some great comments on this very subject of
becoming one with your projects.
Check his book out. One of the most no-nonsense tomes of woodworking
I can remember reading.
Yeah, that's the stuff. $23.50 a liter from Lee Valley.
"This product contains no thinners or driers".
I'm using it straight on a cherry crib for my SECOND grandson, due in about 6
Yeah, that was some kind of sarcasm. I hope you could see the smile I had while
writing it. You did catch my point.
As a pro, your goals are different than mine. I certainly can see your point.
Me, I want to build nice things and learn new stuff. I can afford to spend the
time to experiment and I don't warrant anything.
That's the juice. The real stuff. With no thinners or driers you
have the real deal.
First, congratulations on the upcoming family member! Tung should be
an excellent choice for the crib.
Not to sound confounding here, but tung oil is known for its lack of
penetration. (I know, I know, are you ever happy, Robert?)
However, most refinishers that use PURE tung as a base coat to other
finishes thin it by about 50% or so to increase penetration.
I don't agree with this Russ on a lot of things and we have
corresponded before. In this case though, you might find his articles
on BLO and tung interesting. His observations are pretty widely
accepted as are his application methods in these particular cases.
Me, too. I just don't seem to do it anymore. I seem to learn out of
necessity these days, not for the enjoyment.
You will love it. It is as much a commentary on things related to
woodworking as it is instructive. His candor in using wood as a
medium and his thoughts on that alone are worth the price of the
book. He does does not believe that wood speaks to him nor does he
channel any distant voices of ancient craftsmen.
He believes his time is precious, so as he says, when he communicates
with wood he uses shorthand. He uses power tools when possible. He
only came up with his own finish because he didn't like the ones that
are out there. And in fact, according to folklore, he came up with
his finish because some of his early work was rejected due to the use
of heavy varnishes and oils.
Be sure and check out his comments on pages 64 - 65 when you get the
I thinned the first coat by 50% with mineral spirits. That worked well to pop
the curl in the cherry without it getting blotchy. I used straight tung oil
for the second and third coats. After I'm done here, I'll head into the shop
and either put a fourth coat on or declare victory and wax it.
I did enjoy this. Maybe on future tung oil projects, I'll thin early coats even
One of the great joys of retirement is that I have the time and energy to learn
something just because I want to. In my working days, it was the same as you.
What I learned was being dictated by what I had to do. Now, I'm learning
Photoshop for photography, Spanish at the local community college, reading up on
Buddhism for an upcoming trip... Life is good.
Never heard of that formula...although I've heard of 1/3 varnish, 1/3
turpentine, and 1/3 oil (blo or tung) as a nice wiping finish that
builds easily without looking plasticy and is simple to renew.
No matter what you put on it (okay, maybe with the exception of bartop
epoxy) pine is going to get dented.
As far as water/heat resistance, I have an oak trivet on which I used
plain BLO and it's held up fine to hot pots and spills. I imagine your
concoction would work as well.
Base mix of 50/50 thinned varnish (any), with enough oil to
keep the rag from sticking. Behlen's Rockhard tabletop
varnish (phenolic resin) works great, won't yellow or feel like
cheap plastic. Urethane is best used for kid's furniture,
where looks are second to abuse resistance.
Orange / amber shellac is the prettiest finish for
pine. Unwaxed is reputed to stand up well to
spills. Soak a rag in straight 3 lb cut and buff
in until it starts to stick, very easy.
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