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Thread: What's so special about Camelia Oil ?

  1. #1
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    What's so special about Camelia Oil ?

    I haven't had too much (but some) trouble with rust on plane or chisel blades since I try to keep them stored in plane socks (and even socks inside the original plane box) and chisels in rolls or drawers. But I keep thinking I should probably use something to occasionally wipe them down with. I use TopCoat on CI but dont much care for it on plane irons and I'm just as apt to spay on some Liquid Wrench if it's handy then wipe dry. I know LN seems to favor Camelia oil, but I've read a number of posts that dont agree. But I got to wondering - whether you're going to use it or not - what's the big difference between Camelia and other vegetable oils? Is there some property that makes it any better than wiping with Mazzola, Safflower Oil, or Olive Oil? Could I get the same effect just picking something up at the grocery store? Just curious if anyone knows why Camelia is recommended over other vegetable oils.
    Use the fence Luke

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Shepard View Post
    I haven't had too much (but some) trouble with rust on plane or chisel blades since I try to keep them stored in plane socks (and even socks inside the original plane box) and chisels in rolls or drawers. But I keep thinking I should probably use something to occasionally wipe them down with. I use TopCoat on CI but dont much care for it on plane irons and I'm just as apt to spay on some Liquid Wrench if it's handy then wipe dry. I know LN seems to favor Camelia oil, but I've read a number of posts that dont agree. But I got to wondering - whether you're going to use it or not - what's the big difference between Camelia and other vegetable oils? Is there some property that makes it any better than wiping with Mazzola, Safflower Oil, or Olive Oil? Could I get the same effect just picking something up at the grocery store? Just curious if anyone knows why Camelia is recommended over other vegetable oils.
    Fire up Google with "camelia oil " and oil will be revealed...
    The stuff used for anti -rust is a Japanese thing and it is not pure camelia oil- it is a blend with machine oil. It will not go rancid like some cooking oils you would get from the grocer.
    There are hundreds of products out there-some work better than others-such as lanolin .

  3. #3
    It doesn't hurt wood so its good for blades on wood planes..........

    Last metal planes I used it on formed some rust over the summer near a AC vents
    aka rarebear - Hand Planes 101 - RexMill - The Resource

  4. #4
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    Camelia has slight "drying" properties - in other words, it will harden over a long period of exposure to air. This isn't all that big a deal if you're regularly using the tool, but may require removal with an apolar solvent like Naptha, Mineral Spirits or Laquer Thinner if the tool's been sitting for a long period.

    And yeah, as far as rust protection, just about any oil will do that, because they're all hydrophobic (water-hating). Silicone oils are the extreme end of the hydrophobicity spectrum, but most woodworkers don't like to use them as they will "fish-eye" a film finish like laquer if they remain on the wood at finishing time.

    I do use camelia, by the way - I used to use olive oil, but the kind I like to cook with is just as expensive as Camelia, and was making me hungry in the shop...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Keller NC View Post
    I used to use olive oil, but the kind I like to cook with is just as expensive as Camelia, and was making me hungry in the shop...
    Take some bread with you into the shop and dab the excess off of your tools. A little wine could be in order too... if you are staying away from power tools.

  6. #6
    I've used Camelia oil for the last 25 years and I've just never seen any reason to change. In 25 years I just ordered my second bottle 6 months ago so it does last a long time. I made an oiler by taking a hollowed out branch and rolling up an old sock and placing into the branch. Then I'm able to rub it on my saws or stick the chisel into it when I'm mortising. Just makes it easy to apply it to my tools. I was also taught to use olive oil to condition my japanese planes by heating it till it smokes then letting it cool. This keeps it from gettting rancid. Then I tape the ends of the dia forming a lip around it and pour the oil up to the top of the tape. Because the wood for dias is usually oak the oil flows through the pores and comes out in the opening for the blade. I then flip it over and do the same to the other end. I only do this when I have a new plane. Point being the planes I did this to 20 years ago still have no rancid smell so I'm sure it works.
    So you could try olive oil as well just heat it up first.
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    Charlie Mastro
    Mastro Woodworking & Design
    Joseph, OR

  7. #7
    I'm not proud of it.
    Bought a bottle from LN about 2 years ago.
    Coated all of my metal planes with it.

    Pulled them down off the rack 6-8 months ago [the ones I don't hardly use] and noticed rust spots.
    The camellia oil had dried to a very hard, sticky mess.
    I re cleaned and de rusted the rust spots and went back to my usual method, one which Chris Schwartz uses. A rag kept in a container, soaked with a dab of motor oil, wd-40, 3-in-one-oil, etc.

    So.... I'm confused as to whether that's really the stuff to use, or maybe I'm not using my planes often enough and keeping them maintained often enough.


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Mastro View Post
    I've used Camelia oil for the last 25 years and I've just never seen any reason to change. In 25 years I just ordered my second bottle 6 months ago so it does last a long time. I made an oiler by taking a hollowed out branch and rolling up an old sock and placing into the branch. Then I'm able to rub it on my saws or stick the chisel into it when I'm mortising. Just makes it easy to apply it to my tools. I was also taught to use olive oil to condition my japanese planes by heating it till it smokes then letting it cool. This keeps it from gettting rancid. Then I tape the ends of the dia forming a lip around it and pour the oil up to the top of the tape. Because the wood for dias is usually oak the oil flows through the pores and comes out in the opening for the blade. I then flip it over and do the same to the other end. I only do this when I have a new plane. Point being the planes I did this to 20 years ago still have no rancid smell so I'm sure it works.
    So you could try olive oil as well just heat it up first.
    I will try that -olive oil is one of the good things in life, anyway. Here in New Zealand things can be quite damp for a lot of the time. If your recipe is as good as Lanolin oil then that is a major advancement. Must it be Spanish Virgin or Greek Virgin ?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by philip marcou View Post
    I will try that -olive oil is one of the good things in life, anyway. Here in New Zealand things can be quite damp for a lot of the time. If your recipe is as good as Lanolin oil then that is a major advancement. Must it be Spanish Virgin or Greek Virgin ?
    I'm Italian, so...........
    Charlie Mastro
    Mastro Woodworking & Design
    Joseph, OR

  10. #10
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    The Schwarz says to use WD-40. In tests that PWW conducted, WD-40 worked as well (or better) than everything else that they tested. I haven't used camelia oil, but apparently some people don't like the oily feel that remains on the tool (imagine that after using an oil).

  11. #11
    Wikipedia has an article on it. It's also known as "tea seed oil". If you search for tea seed oil you might find it cheaper than if you buy it as Camellia oil. It's used for cooking so it can't be that expensive.

    Here's one.

    Mike
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 10-03-2008 at 11:18 PM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  12. #12
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    Hi Doug-

    Interesting thread -- thanks for posting the question. I've often wondered the same thing.

    Glad to hear that old fashioned WD-40 may be as good as the exhaulted Camelia oil, but without the sticky mess down the road.

    Starrett sells a WD-40 equivalent that seems to be pretty good too.

    -TH

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post
    Wikipedia has an article on it. It's also known as "tea seed oil". If you search for tea seed oil you might find it cheaper than if you buy it as Camellia oil. It's used for cooking so it can't be that expensive.

    Here's one.

    Mike
    BUT: Camelia oil sold as an anti-rust agent is not pure tea seed oil-it is blended with mineral oil to achieve this......
    SO: the question is "Is tea seed oil on its own effective as an anti rust agent?"
    >>>> I suspect not, so I stick to locally tried and proven Extract of Sheep, but being ever keen to experiment will also look at modified Olive Oil<<<<
    The WD 40 sold here is certainly not the same stuff I was familiar with on oil rigs in the North Sea, where they called it Rocket Fuel and it really was the universal cure -almost as fast as diesel and a four pound hammer. I suspect that WD 40 nowadays has been corrupted and is little better than kerosene with some sticky agent added, plus a smell.....

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by philip marcou View Post
    BUT: Camelia oil sold as an anti-rust agent is not pure tea seed oil-it is blended with mineral oil to achieve this......
    SO: the question is "Is tea seed oil on its own effective as an anti rust agent?"
    >>>> I suspect not, so I stick to locally tried and proven Extract of Sheep, but being ever keen to experiment will also look at modified Olive Oil<<<<
    ...
    Extract of Sheep Do I even want to know what that is

    Thanks for the feedback on the blend with mineral oil. When I tried googling a couple days ago I found tons of hits that were of the flavor "I wipe it on...", "I dont like it because...", or just Buy-it-here hits. I hadn't really found anything (yet) describing what it was or why it (or it's blend) was better than other vegetable oils (or their blends). So while this thread has a preponderance of posts seeming to recommend it, there's also a number saying Nyet. I know it's not very expensive, but I never seem to think about it when ordering something else and haven't wanted to pay the shipping charge for that alone. But I'm still wondering if I've been doing just as much good hitting blades with the occasional blast of Liquid Wrench and wiping.
    Use the fence Luke

  15. #15
    To add a comment about mineral oil - it's generally available in drug stores in the laxative section. But if you can't find it, you can use baby oil which is just mineral oil with a small amount of perfume added.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

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