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Thread: Home brew Danish oil question

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Oklahoma
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    Home brew Danish oil question

    I'm working on some Native American eagle feather boxes. Wood is western red cedar because eastern isn't available in my area which is ironic because it grows like weeds in my state of Oklahoma.

    Anyway my plan was to finish the outside with 100% pure tung oil. The inside will be left bare for the bug and fungal repellent properties of the cedar.

    Wood was sanded to 400 grit before finishing started.

    After 3 good coats of pure tung, the wood definitely drank it up, is colored nicely, the grain definitely popped and while wet looks fantastic. After wiping dry it is just dead flat and lifeless, no sheen at all. None.

    So, on to plan B. Home brew danish oil. Here's my mix:

    1 part 100% tung oil
    1/2 part BLO (I wanted to darken it some and wanted the drier to maybe help with the tung)
    1 part Minwax oil based fast dry satin poly
    1.5 parts turpentine (it very hot and I wanted the slower dry of the turp)

    1st coat flooded. This wood just drinks it up. Kept wet for a good 15 minutes reapplying to the "thirsty parts" at least a half dozen times. Wipe totally dry (all coats).
    2nd coat after 24 hours just like 1st (not as much drinking it up, but still some).
    3rd coat, much lighter (not drinking near as much now) and wet sanded in with 600 grit wet-r-dry.
    4th coat, wet sanded with 800 grit.

    Still having the dead flat, lifeless look but maybe there's light in the end of the tunnel. It's so dang smooth it might be starting to have the satin matte sheen I'm after!

    I've watched a bazillion youtube videos and read countless articles and posts. Most are dealing with a hardwood and look like exactly what I'm shooting for. On soft open pored wood is it normal to have to go so high a grit on the sanding? If it doesn't pop at 1000 grit, I think I'm there with a coat of wax, but i'm definitely not getting results like I see everyone else getting.

    Edit: I have no idea how to rotate the pics.

    IMG_5881.jpgIMG_5882.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Scott,

    I have no experience with Western Red Cedar, only Eastern. (I haven't seen it for sale here other than at local sawmills - I saw and dry it myself.)

    I use the off-the-shelf Watco "danish" oil. I know some who make it with 1/3 parts BLO, poly, and mineral spirits. If I wanted slower drying I might add a little japan drier rather than using turpentine but so far I haven't had the need.

    I use basically the same method of application as you, with longer drying for the first "coat" and at least overnight on subsequent coats. I do this in a heated/air conditioned shop so the humidity and temperature are controlled.

    For me, 4 coats is never enough. I typically finish with at least 10 coats of "danish" on cedar, cherry, walnut, whatever. I wet sand with fine paper (600-800) or 0000 steel wool between coats as needed for a smooth surface. It slowly builds up a reasonably hard finish which I can buff to a shine. I prefer a softer satin sheen so I often rub with a bit of pumice or rottenstone.

    ERC with "danish" oil:

    penta_platter_cedar_IMG_7434.jpg

    Another finish I like on ERC is beeswax, either rubbed onto the surface or melted into the surface and buffed with a soft cloth.

    With beeswax, applied without heat:

    cedar_bowl.jpg penta_plates_comp_cropped.jpg

    Beeswax, applied with heat:
    cedar_lid_comp_IMG_7331.jpg cedar_bowl_figured.jpg

  3. #3
    You don't require BLO AND tung oil. They serve the same purpose in danish oil: to inhibit the drying so that you have time to wipe off the material on the wood. This prevents the finish from building.

    The turpentine thins the mix so it's more mobile and wipes easier.

    The sheen will come after the wood is properly sealed. There are 2 ways to do this:

    1) Apply more coats of your mix.

    2) Seal your piece first with a 'wiping varnish'. That is, 50-75% poly and 25-50% turpentine (or better, mineral spirits). Flood it on, and wipe it all off just like Danish oil. This will deposit more poly per application and will dry harder than the Danish oil. After a seal coat of this, you can, if you wish, add BLO or Tung oil to the mix. Honestly, the oil doesn't do a whole lot to the mix, provided you are good about wiping off; the wiping varnish will build into a film if you do enough coats. A wiping varnish can be applied exactly as Danish oil (wipe on/wipe off) you just have to be a little quicker and more thorough about it. Because if it pools, it will dry hard. Even this is not the end of the world, because it will be so thin, it will buff or sand flat easily.

    3) One other thing that I always recommend that is counter to popular convention: before you finish, sand your piece up to 600, 800 or 1000 grit. This grit range starts to burnish and seal the wood through friction. Contrary to what I've read, I have never found this to inhibit the adhesion of any finish including polyurethane. You'll end up using less finish, and you'll notice sheen on the FIRST coat of wiping varnish, danish oil, or (if you sand to 1000) even pure BLO or tung oil.
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 08-22-2019 at 8:52 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    The issue is the wood and the very thin finish viscosity...even being already sealed, the cedar is going to soak more of the thin finish up and it will take a ton of coats to get enough build to allow for a sheen to show. A wipe on varnish finish "generally" at twelve coats is similar to a brushed on two or so coats of regular consistency varnish. Since you've gone the oil/varnish/thinner route, there's even less build than a typical wipe on varnish. Keep on wiping if you want to get to a sheen or leave it matte.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Oklahoma
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    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    Scott,

    I have no experience with Western Red Cedar, only Eastern. (I haven't seen it for sale here other than at local sawmills - I saw and dry it myself.)

    I use the off-the-shelf Watco "danish" oil. I know some who make it with 1/3 parts BLO, poly, and mineral spirits. If I wanted slower drying I might add a little japan drier rather than using turpentine but so far I haven't had the need.
    If I had a portable chainsaw mill I have an unending supply. My wife's family has 30 acres of land not far from me that is overrun with it. It's an invasive species here and it causes a lot of problems.
    I have used the Formby's Tung oil finish in the past, and did try it on some scrap. It didn't pop the grain as well as mine and I know that it will build a film and even the "low gloss" version is way too glossy for what I'm going after. It's not a bad finish, just not what I'm needing on this project. I almost went to get a can of Watco, but I had everything on hand to make my own, so I went that route.

    And fabulous looking work in your photos!

    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    One other thing that I always recommend that is counter to popular convention: before you finish, sand your piece up to 600, 800 or 1000 grit. This grit range starts to burnish and seal the wood through friction. Contrary to what I've read, I have never found this to inhibit the adhesion of any finish including polyurethane. You'll end up using less finish, and you'll notice sheen on the FIRST coat of wiping varnish, danish oil, or (if you sand to 1000) even pure BLO or tung oil.
    I'm definitely going to try this on some scrap. Thanks!

    Thanks everyone, I guess I'll keep going with more coats. I was thinking I'd get there in 5 or 6 coats and after 4 it's just starting to hint that it might work at all. I thought results would be quicker coming.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Hearn View Post
    If I had a portable chainsaw mill I have an unending supply. ...
    I have a small Woodmizer bandsaw mill and which can handle up to 28" diameter logs. I cut cedar when I can get it for siding on animal shelter buildings. I also cut some slabs 2", 3", and 4" thick when I can to dry for woodturning, and sometimes cut 4x4s which are good for turning lots of things.

    I allow a week or two for an oil finish on any kind of wood from cedar to cherry to mahogany to goncolo alves.

    If I am in a hurry I'll spray with lacquer - this vessel has six coats of lacquer with fine sanding and/or steel wool between some coats. (I'm not much of a fan of glass-like glossy finish)

    cedar_vessel.jpg

    I forgot to mention one thing about the oil finish - I never let a coat dry with oil wet on the surface. After the initial soaking, I let it sit for 30 minutes then wipe off any oil on the surface before letting the finish dry/cure for 24-48 hours. For cedar, the second coat usually soaks in rapidly in spots so it gets a second flooding and wiping just like the first coat. Some cases need an additional flooding/wiping/drying in some spots until a coat wipes on evenly all over with no soaking in.

    For additional coats, I wipe on, let sit for 20 minutes or so, then very gently wipe off before drying with the idea to leave a very thin layer of wet finish on the surface. Sometimes I can put on two coats in one day, one in the morning and one at night with about 12 hrs drying for each, depending on the shop temperature and humidity. This is for the Watco danish oil in the can.

    BTW, Watco oil is expensive if you buy it in the wrong place. The Ace Hardware down the hill from me sells a quart for 1/2 the price that Woodcraft wants. The finish will set up in the can eventually unless you keep the air away from it. I displace the air with dry nitrogen on this and other finishes every time I close the lid. They last indefinitely that way.

    JKJ

  7. #7
    Tung oil is temperamental to work with. It's naturally a very slow drying finish. 15 minutes may not have been enough, the first coat you apply it and keep applying it until it just won't take anymore and then wipe off the excess. Then allow it to completely dry, could take days. The best way to tell if it's dry for another coat is to briskly rub it with a clean dry cloth and see if the smell rubs off on the rag. When there is no smell it's ready.

    If you have any build of the tung oil I wouldn't use fast dry poly over the top. The solvents in the poly are stronger than regular varnish and might lift.

    You need to be sure you are ready for wax. Once you use wax it would be difficult to clean off to resume with the tung oil.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Fredericksburg, TX
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    2,421
    I seem to make the same comment about finish. I was told about 20 years or more back that you should always use a gloss finish for clear oil finish. The satin oil finish have fine particles of sand or other to give the dull finish. You can always use a rubbing compound or other methods to get a duller finish, but you can never polish a satin finish and get a true shine with the dull included in the oil finish layers. I always use a gloss varnish in my home brew Danish oil mix for that reason. I also always buff with Tripoli between coats and after last coat on my turnings and then a final application of Renaissance wax with light buff to get a long lasting shine. Some pieces are now over 12 years old and only dusted with dry cloth and still have a nice shine and feel.

  9. #9
    The flattening agent in a finish isn't sand, it's a gypsum powder similar to baby powder. The way it works is it floats to the surface as the finish is settling and interrupts the sheen. People recommend building the thickness of a finish with gloss and use the satin for the last coat because multiple coats of satin tend to cloud the finish because of all of the powder in the finish.

    Normally rubbing compound is used to make a finish glossier. It's a fine abrasive used with a buffer to polish with. To dull you would better off with 0000 steel wool however that is difficult to do without making it streaked.

    A true oil finish shouldn't have anything making a film on the surface. It should have the appearance that you used paste wax to finish with.

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