I've been thinking about this. If it were me - and I know many would not
agree - I'd just use oil. Reasons follow.
1. Your wood has been aging for 20 years and you haven't sanded it. Any
clear top coat will exacerbate whatever roughness there is. I once saw a
stair hand rail in an owner built log house that was so rough that he might
as well have embedded shards of glass. I'm sure yours isn't that rough but
is it rough enough after varnishing to snag sheets or blankets?
2. Oil is extremely easy to use and is close to fool proof. It IS fool
proof as long as the surface is well wiped after applying.
3. IMO, oil is entirely satisfactory for your project. I sleep in a bed I
made 30 years ago that was finished with oil. All drawers - there are
many - had the insides finished with oil; if the drawer fronts don't show,
they too were oiled; if exposed, lacquered just for show, not utility.
If you want to consider oil, you have two choices: linseed or tung. Both
will enhance the grain and color the wood. Over time, the tung changes very
little; linseed darkens, how much depends upon how much was soaked up by the
wood; if considerable - yours would - the darkening will also be accompanied
by a shift toward red. Two to three coats of either would be sufficient. I
thin either 50/50 with paint thinner, sometime more dilute (25/75) with
A variation on just oil would be one that includes a bit of varnish like
Watco. Works like oil but doesn't build a surface layer (unless a LOT of
coats are used).
On Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 9:54:29 AM UTC-4, dadiOH wrote:
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll do some research on this.
I hope others will (politely) voice their opinion on this matter. The
shift towards red with linseed oil might be desirable although the use
of the words "over time" might be considered less than precise. ;-)
Are we talking months, years or decades?
A trip down memory lane...
I once worked for an IT director at a Fortune 500 company. Phrases like
"Oh, it won't take very long" or "It will cost a lot of money" would
result in a lecture - one time. The next time a project manager used a
phrase like that typically meant that the odds were very good that they
wouldn't be managing any more projects for her. In general, she was not
a fun person to work for. ;-)
I've used the Minwax Antique Oil (a linseed-based rubbing oil) for
years...it's not terribly unique as oil finishes go but is easy to
apply, has a yellowing cast typical of linseed oil but can be applied
over oil-based stains if desired. I've pieces that have been finished
with it for going on 40 yr now that haven't darkened that much that I
can at least recognize. The nice thing of an oil finish is that it can
be renewed trivially; the bad thing is they aren't terribly robust to
spills and such but one wouldn't expect that to be much of an issue for
a bed frame. It's basically my "go to"; don't think can go wrong.
Again, you'll want to test it on a piece...
Like most other effects, how much direct sunlight (read UV) the object
receives will have a major effect on rate/amount of darkening. And, of
course, the wood species itself--cherry has its well-known darkening;
fir is relatively stable as it doesn't have a tremendous amount of color
altho will darken.
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