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Thread: Easy, clear coat recommendations

  1. #1
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    Easy, clear coat recommendations

    I've made a guitar stand from mahogany. It is patterned after the Zither Music Company's stands they make for Gibson, Taylor, and other brands. It looks like this:

    stand with acoustic.png ASTDMG-large.jpg view 1.jpg view 2.jpg view with Gibson.jpg

    It came out really nice. 42 inches high; base is 12"/9" x 14.5" trapezoid. I've hand sanded it down to 320 grit and it seems ready for finishing. But I'm out of my depth here. I've only used shellac on a maple bunkbed and "Tung Oil Finish" (Minwax brand of whatever that stuff is) on my hand-plane rack and a little spokeshave rack, but the truth is that I have no finishing chops. I suppose I ought to have been paying more attention to finishing techniques through the years.

    I want to be able to feel the wood in my hand when I pick up the stand, so I do not want a hard lacquer finish (the guitar has a gorgeous new nitrocellulose gloss so I want the stand to sit back in the light) more like a satin sheen that looks deep into the grain, without darkening the wood. I do NOT want to wait days between coats. I'm willingly to wax when the oil coats are all on and cured. I don't consider this stand a piece of fine furniture. More like a lovingly made tool rack, which, in a way, it is.

    I need to start from Square One. What is my best option? From my reading,
    • pure tung oil or pure linseed oil seem out of the question due to curing time
    • pure tung or pure BLO cut with mineral spirits seems fussy
    • the "Finish" brands are cut with this and that and don't really have much of the pure oil species


    After "what to use" is "how to apply." I guess that depends on how thin the chosen finish is.

    As you finishing experts can clearly see, I need more than a quick tip. I've started with YouTube videos and maybe I'll learn enough to choose a product and move ahead. In the meantime, does anyone have any suggestions that will help me kick this off?

  2. #2
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    You might want to check out John's recent thread on Rubio Monocoat which is a hard-wax oil finish that only requires one coat. These hard-wax oils are really catching on with a lot of folks for easy, natural looking finishing.

    Alternatively, something like Tried and True original oil or their original oil/beeswax product is easy and safe to use. It's been a staple of mine for two and a half decades for many kinds of projects.
    --

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

  3. #3
    You could just do a coat or two of Watco natural. It has driers in it, so you don't need to wait forever for it to cure like a straight oil.

    Don't rule out a couple thin coats of shellac either. Quick and fast, and beautiful on walnut. If you don't put too many coats on, it won't get glossy and you will still feel the wood.

  4. #4
    Danish oil or any oil varnish blend is a good choice. Wipe on wipe off.

    You can use a wiping varnish like minwax wipe on poly too. Wipe on, wipe off. 2-3 coats and you will have it.

    Imho the trick to a good oil varnish finish is sanding to a very high grit like 600 or better 1000.
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 12-07-2021 at 12:08 AM.

  5. #5
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    Thanks, Prashun. Do you mean sanding to 600 or 1000 before applying any finish, or between coats, or both?

    For what it's worth, Tried and True's videos say to use 0000 steel wool. You would prefer the 600 or 100 grit paper?
    Last edited by Bob Jones 5443; 12-07-2021 at 1:08 AM.

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    Thanks, Jim. Following your lead I've read up on the Tried and True line. I see there is a distinction between their Danish Oil and their "Original Wood Finish." I assume you mean the latter? They say the Original Wood finish contains linseed oil and beeswax, so I'm just slightly confused. Probably taking things too literally.

    Also, they say to let coats sit for an hour before wiping, then 24 hours between coats. They let the final coat sit for three days. Yikes. Is that what finishing is?
    Last edited by Bob Jones 5443; 12-07-2021 at 1:07 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Seemann View Post
    You could just do a coat or two of Watco natural. It has driers in it, so you don't need to wait forever for it to cure like a straight oil.

    Don't rule out a couple thin coats of shellac either. Quick and fast, and beautiful on walnut. If you don't put too many coats on, it won't get glossy and you will still feel the wood.
    Watco natural. Do you mean Watco natural Danish Oil?

  8. #8
    Sand to 1000 grit before the first coat of finish.

    You can sand in between coats if your fingers suggest there are imperfections.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Jones 5443 View Post
    Thanks, Jim. Following your lead I've read up on the Tried and True line. I see there is a distinction between their Danish Oil and their "Original Wood Finish." I assume you mean the latter? They say the Original Wood finish contains linseed oil and beeswax, so I'm just slightly confused. Probably taking things too literally.

    Also, they say to let coats sit for an hour before wiping, then 24 hours between coats. They let the final coat sit for three days. Yikes. Is that what finishing is?
    They have three different formulas...straight oil (polymerized linseed oil with no metallic driers), the same oil plus beeswax and a varnish product made with the oil and tree resin. The only one I haven't been as fond of is the last one, but I admit it's been 20 years since I tried it. The oil and oil/wax products are great, IMHO. They also cure in a very reasonable time.
    --

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

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Jones 5443 View Post
    Watco natural. Do you mean Watco natural Danish Oil?
    Yes. It is basically an oil-varnish blend. You could make your own with linseed oil, varnish, and mineral spirits, but the Watco is just so already done and ready to go, and it has the proportions right, so no need to experiment.

  11. #11
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    My favorite is 1/3 oil based varnish - 1/3 oil - 1/3 turpentine with a few drops of Japan drier.

    The sheen of the polyurethane will determine the sheen of the final finish. I use both spar varnish and regular varnish. Spar varnish has longer molecules and UV inhibiters. Spar varnish gives a more flexible finish than regular (non-spar) varnish. For that project I would use non-spar varnish. BLO (boiled linseed oil) and Tung oil both work well. For that project I would use Tung oil.

    For the first coat I would use 1/4 varnish - 1/4 oil - 1/2 turpentine to make a very thin mixture that will penetrate well. Then use 1/3 - 1/3 - 1/3 for follow up coats. I always use Turpentine because that is what I started with and that is what I always use. I think Mineral Spirits would also work just fine. To get the feel of wood when you pick up the stand use fewer coats of the mixture. Start with about 3 THIN coats and see how you like the results.

    Nice job on the stand!

    P.S. I always mistakingly use Linseed Oil and BLO interchangeably to mean BLO. Is there such a thing as non boiled Linseed oil for finishing????
    Last edited by Michael Schuch; 12-07-2021 at 8:19 PM.

  12. #12
    Linseed Oil and BLO interchangeably to mean BLO. Is there such a thing as non boiled Linseed oil for finishing????
    Don't think so. Boiled simply refers to the fact that Japan drier has been added to aid curing. No drier = unacceptable dry time = unusable as a finish.
    When I read "linseed oil" anywhere regarding finishing, I always assume the "boiled" part is there, just silent.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Schuch View Post

    P.S. I always mistakingly use Linseed Oil and BLO interchangeably to mean BLO. Is there such a thing as non boiled Linseed oil for finishing????
    Yes, raw linseed oil. For those of you with lots of time on your hands

    The boiled in boiled linseed oil means that it has some kind of dryer in it, so it doesn't take forever to cure.

    In theory, pure raw linseed oil would essentially be a non-food grade version of flaxseed oil from the health food store.



    As an aside, 1/3 oil, 1/3 varnish, 1/3 mineral spirits and a dash of dryer is a Danish oil recipe.

  14. #14
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    Raw linseed oil is a regular part of the kit for folks who do oil painting (art) as it remains workable for a very long time. It's not a good choice for finishing our woodworking projects, however. BLO ("Boiled Linseed Oil") is a processed product that most often contains metallic driers so it does cure in a reasonable time frame. Alternatively products like Tried and True that I previously mentioned use polymerization (a heat process if I'm not mistaken) to make it into a curable oil without the metallic driers. I do not know if anything is done to pure tung oil for the same purpose as I've never used the stuff to-date.
    --

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

  15. #15
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    It's called "boiled" because back in the day they used to heat the oil, which changed the molecular structure of the oil, allowing it to more rapidly polymerize. Tried & True, like Jim wrote, uses the heat method.

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