Jump to content

Finish - Stain, Oil, Wax, Polish


fkvesic

Recommended Posts

I've searched TCP, but don't think there is a particular thread on this topic, though there's lots of info throughout the site, so I thought it might be an idea to have a thread on finishing.

 

The reason why is that I'm at the stage of staining/oiling my first netsuke. The wax I'll be using some weeks from now will be Renaissance Wax and hand polishing/burnishing techniques.

 

The staining stage was interesting. Though I'm familiar with water and oil-based wood stains and dyes, and fabric dyes like Dylon and Procion, I wanted something that I'd made myself and to experiment. So, knowing that tea and coffee will stain fabric, but that coffee staining would be too dark for my purposes, I steeped 6 teabags for half an hour in a mug of water, then boiled it down to a consistency that would just cover the netsuke. I didn't want to boil the 8-year old sycamore that I'd used, fearing it might crack, so successively steeped it for 15 secs, 30 secs, 1 min and two mins in the concoction that was just off the boil, gently drying the piece between steepings under a lamp bulb. After the first steeping, I realised that the tea-stain was too yellow for my purposes, so steeped 6 rooibos (redbush) teabags for half an hour, added that to the tea-stain and boiled the whole lot down until it just covered the netsuke. I also added a little salt and white vinegar as a mordant. The result is just what I wanted - not too dark, but a mid-red/brown shade on the softer end grain and a golden orangy-red on the long grain.

 

After giving it a couple of days to dry out, I resanded the piece, wasn't pleased with the sanding on some of the intricate details, but had a idea that I could improve it by oiling and then burnishing (with a sanded down cocktail stick and a bone bookbinding page creaser). It's working. The piece has had two oilings and burnishings so far and is to have its final oiling tomorrow. Then I'll leave it to dry for however long it takes before waxing and final polishing/burnishing.

 

I hadn't wanted to use boiled Linseed Oil, or even Tung or Danish oil, as these tend to darken the woods even more. A woodworking friend of mine uses many different types of oil that he prepares and suggested that I boil and cool sunflower oil (to get rid of any organic material and stop it going rancid) and use that, steeping the piece for ten minutes at a time over three day, lifting it out of the oil and letting it sit overnight to soak in the oil remaining on it. He has a theory that vegetable oils won't go rancid if they're raised to just before smoking point and then cooled (which is how boiled Linseed Oil is anyway prepared) and will harden quicker. I was left with an odourless oil that hasn't darkened the wood very much and seems to be working - so far. Time will tell.

 

I'll put up photos of the piece when it's waxed and finished.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Clive Hallam

That's interesting that you are using Rooibos tea, I've used it and it does produce a really nice colour on boxwood. Makes a good cuppa as well.. I grew up drinking it in South Africa.

 

One thing I would suggest regarding finishing boxwood pieces is to simply apply a light coating of good quality grape seed oil. You can buy it from Tescos. Apply a very light coat.. leave for few weeks.. and only then give it a good rub.. repeat the process as many times as you wish and you'll tend to get a much mellower finish than can be achieved with wax and burnishing. I personally wouldn't use the oils traditionally used to finish wood, they just not suitable for fine carvings.

 

The trouble with burnishing is that wood will over time recover or swell leaving the burnished areas dull and looking slightly "puffy". I believe burnishing actually damages the wood cells which forever reduce the quality of any patina that would develop over time. Really fine finishing is ultimately about creating the most advantageous penetration of light into the surface of the wood so that its inner beauty can be revealed. Waxing creates an "artificial" surface into which light can penetrate, but one that tends to look a bit superficial and shiny

 

I hope that might be of help.

 

Kind regards

Clive

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Clive Hallam

My pleasure.. I don't boil grape seed oil. Something however that I do tend to do with antler and mammoth is to heat the oil slightly.. it gives it a slightly greater penetration. The key however is to use few small qualities of oil. I tend to just put a tiny drop on my fingers an apply that way. Too much oil and you'll not create the desired effect.

 

Looking forward to seeing your piece.

 

Clive

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting technique, Clive. I quite like the idea. Are you applying enough oil to fill lines or recessed areas, or is it just a very tiny amount rubbed over the high points? Does the grapeseed oil eventually dry with time?

 

This approach reminds me of a furniture conservator that I studied finishes with many years ago, who believed that regarding oil finishes, less was more, but in general, oil was only really good for "finishing ship's decks".

 

Thanks for sharing.

 

Phil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Clive Hallam

Hi Phil,

 

I probably could have explained that better, I oil my fingers as a way of making sure I only apply the smallest amount. I apply oil to facilitate the penetration of light into and around the cells of the surface. Only the smallest amount is advantagious.. to much and I create an oil layer totally defeating my purpose. If light cannot naturally reach an area, say an undercut or a deep recess then there really isn't much point in trying to achieve any greater penetration in that area. I don't think the oil actually dries out after just a few weeks but rather that it is absorbed into the cells and is evenly distributed into the areas between cells.

 

I should add that the quality of the surface, just how flat and undamaged the surface cells are is obviously critical. When I first started experimenting with different surface qualities I asked Masatoshi how he achieved his amazingly mellow and deep polish. He told me that one must learn to carve the surface flat... and not to flatten the surface.. a critical difference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Clive!

 

Understood. This is very similar to recommendations for finishing techniques recommended in 19th century texts on carving. Surfaces on old work that have not been refinished show a surface that has been finished by carving alone, sometimes by many tiny cuts, but no abrasives, save perhaps the lightest touch with "dutch rush" in recessed areas to remove a few loose fibres.

 

Phil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd paid so much attention to the detail of carving, I hadn't really thought about the effect of light on the surface of wood, just accepted that the piece needed polishing. The comments from both of you indicate the difference in approach between masters and a beginner. So much to learn! I hope I've not ruined this piece.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Clive Hallam

Hi Freda,

 

That sounds like you're being far too harsh on yourself.. I doubt these considerations regarding surface qualities could ruin your piece.. they really just some things one may wish to consider as one seeks to explore techniques as opportunity for personal expression. A great deal of it is subjective anyway.. or simply to do with ones ability to see the difference between one quality and another... over time having educated our eyes to see the most subtle difference between very similar things.

 

One thing I really would recommend is to keep records and examples of each variation in tecnique or experiment.. to assist comparison it helps to have examples of unified size and shape, numbered with notes. I use grape seed oil because it looks better to me than all the other oils I've experimented with, of which I have hundreds, but its an ongoing exploration. Recently I've started experimenting with essential oils.. might our sense of smell affect our visual experience? If so, how can I manipulate the medium to best exploit and control that.. So much to explore.. no masters or beginners.. are we not just grains of sand on the beach.. some might through experience be ever so slightly bigger than the grain that lies next to them.. but still only a grain on a beach.

 

Kindest Regards

Clive

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Recently I've started experimenting with essential oils.. might our sense of smell affect our visual experience"

 

I'd also thought about that, too, Clive. Don't know if I'll try it just yet, though. I've also some experience of making and fixing my own vegetable dyes and have been toying with that idea, too.

 

On subjectivity and experience re oiling - yes, I suppose it is, but my method of initially dunking the piece now seems a bit heavy-handed and thoughtless. And keeping notes is a good idea - I do/did it for textiles as I found that I forgot what I had done a while after a piece was completed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you Fkvesic and Clive for a very informative and interesting discussion. I am especially thankful to having my attention drawn to the interaction of individual cells and the finish. I know that fine luthiers and furniture makers abore abrasives such as sandpaper as it "clogs the pores" of the wood. I hope to carve something sometime of enough subtlety to truly warrent these finishiing techniques. Thanks again.

 

It's good to drop back here - I've been on other projects this winter and have been missing the forum.

 

Magnus

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The staining stage was interesting. Though I'm familiar with water and oil-based wood stains and dyes, and fabric dyes like Dylon and Procion, I wanted something that I'd made myself and to experiment. So, knowing that tea and coffee will stain fabric, but that coffee staining would be too dark for my purposes, I steeped 6 teabags for half an hour in a mug of water, then boiled it down to a consistency that would just cover the netsuke. I didn't want to boil the 8-year old sycamore that I'd used, fearing it might crack, so successively steeped it for 15 secs, 30 secs, 1 min and two mins in the concoction that was just off the boil, gently drying the piece between steepings under a lamp bulb. After the first steeping, I realised that the tea-stain was too yellow for my purposes, so steeped 6 rooibos (redbush) teabags for half an hour, added that to the tea-stain and boiled the whole lot down until it just covered the netsuke. I also added a little salt and white vinegar as a mordant. The result is just what I wanted - not too dark, but a mid-red/brown shade on the softer end grain and a golden orangy-red on the long grain.

 

I read in one of the books on the processing of wood. One way to quickly dry a tree - boiling. Wet wood can crack, dried - very rare.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The wood I used was very dry to begin with, Leonid. Even with the staining method I used, it raised a flake of wood which had to be sanded off and left a pit, leaving the surface to be reshaped, so I was pretty sure that boiling it wasn't a good idea. I guess every piece of wood has to be treated differently.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...