Applying oil finish the traditional way can be a tricky task. Using finishing oil together with a brush and clean cloth will give your furniture an oily glossy shine if you know the correct finishing steps.
Question on Oil Finish: “At the moment I am making a dining room suite in black walnut, Swedish modern design and have a finishing problem and wonder if you could help me. I am trying to duplicate the so called Scandinavian or Danish oiled finish. I don’t want to use any stain as the wood I am using has a particularly beautiful grain and I want to maintain the natural color. I have tried boiled linseed oil, hot and well rubbed in but cannot seem to get away from a certain tackiness.
There is also a sheen to the finish which I don’t want. Have also used three coats of oil and tried rubbing the final result with pumice and oil but promptly ran into another problem. The pumice filled the pores in the grain and as I am not using a filler at all the end result left much to be desired. Should I add Japan Dryers to the oil to take away the tackiness ?
Our Answer regarding Oil Finish: After thoroughly sanding and dusting apply the mixture of oil and turpentine with a soft cloth, rubbing with your hands. After from 10 to 20 minutes, when the wood has taken up all the oil it can immediately absorb, wipe off surplus with a clean cloth. Next rub with a polishing cloth 10 to 20 minutes. Coarse wool wrapped around a brick is good because it develops the friction that creates the necessary heat. Let a day or two elapse between the first and second coat, a week or more before the next coat, then let several weeks elapse.
Before applying a new coat, lay your hand on it for a minute, if the hand becomes oily, it is not dry enough for the next coat. Repeat once a month for a year and once a year thereafter. The process can be quickened by applying natural filler to the bare wood before the first coat of the oil mixture. Another quick method is to add 1/3 to 1/2 waterproof varnish to the oil and turpentine mixture and use this solution during the entire process. The only way I know of to get rid of the sticky surface is to clean it off with alcohol or varnish remover and start over.
NOTE: Since replying to the reader. I have received the following informative letter:
Thank you very much for your kind reply. The information furnished was very interesting and gives me a new slant or two on boiled oil finish.
Actually the finish I was looking for is one known to the Commercial Trade as a Scandanavian oil finish, and while as yet I have been unable to find out just how the trade acquire the finish and while I am equally certain that it is something other than turpentine and oil, I have arrived at an approximation of it. At least the finish I have is very similar to what I have seen produced commercially.
The finish is quite dry, impervious to water and alcohol insofar as staining or leaving white rings is concerned, and I am completely satisfied with it. The wood I was using, as I said, is black walnut, and after a very thorough sanding I gave it a coat of hot glue water. This solution was made up of one tablespoon White Bondfast Glue in quart of hot water. After thoroughly mixing I brushed it on and allowed it to dry, then a thorough sanding followed. The water, of course, swelled the soft grain and there was sufficient glue in it to set up or stiffen the fibers which were raised by the water. For the sanding I used a 8-0 Garnet Paper.
I did not use a filler on the wood but then mixed one-third C.I.L. (Canadian Industries Limited) Satin Finish Varnish and two-thirds turpentine. This I brushed on fairly freely, allowed twenty-four hours to dry, then rubbed it down with 4-0 steel wool. After vacuuming the whole thing in order to move all dust from the pores and open grain, I continued the treatment using the vacuum cleaner after each rubbing down. I presently have eight coats on the piece of furniture and must say that it has turned out exceptionally well. As I proceeded with the finishing so I would moisten the bottom of two drinking glasses one with water, the other with whiskey, and set them on the piece of furniture and left them overnight. At no time did I find any white ring appear, and while a certain dullness was left, a slight rub with a piece of cloth was sufficient to move said dullness. You may care to play around with this finish yourself or you may wish to pass it along to someone else who desires a dull open grained finish.