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Oil finish? What to use, how to understand its properties


Janel

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Trying to decide what to apply to the different woods I use has always been a guessing game, since I do not understand what actually is going on when one substance or another is applied to the wood. I also was wondering about grape seed oil, what polymerization is, and decided to go hunting for information. If you can take the time to read the full article, you will learn some significant information on how to make your choices between the oils available to you. It is not a simple explanation, but with thorough reading, and taking notes on the pertinent parts, you will be able to draw some conclusions for your own choices.

 

This lengthy, detailed, article "Wood, Oil, and Water", describes the chemistry of woods, oils and water, and how woods react to the application of oils for the resistance and yet allow moisture to move through the barrier slowly. The article is aimed at wooden recorder maintenance, but the imparted knowledge applies to several different discussions that we have had on this forum.

 

There are tables that compare the oils, drying ability and time, actual oils we know about, and so much more. Wood composition is also described chemically, water in the wood, and how the oils interact with the surfaces of the wood.

 

One oil that we have recently had discussed here, grapeseed, or grape seed, oil was not included in this article. I found a table for grape seed oil that relates to the topic on the recorder article on Wikipedia. Click here to see that one.

 

If I understand what is presented, I infer the qualities of grape seed oil (as a superior choice by generations of instrument makers) to be of excellent drying nature being high in Linolenic acid (as shown in the Wikipedia table) to be a main reason why this particular oil has been used.

 

An excerpt from the recorder page article: What characterizes a drying oil? The ratio of the rate of oxidation of Oleic, Linoleic, and Linolenic Acids is 1:10:25. It is easier to polymerize carbon chains with two nearby C=C bonds (linoleic) than it is with just one double bond (oleic). Three such bonds in close proximity make it even better (linolenic).

 

Google "polymerize, or, polymerize oil, or, polymerize oil wood" and read a lot more about the subject.

 

Many thanks to Clive for restating the importance and usefulness of Grape Seed oil in recent TCP discussions. I finally "heard" you, and have learned more about it. I am trying it on new pieces, either by hand application, or by rag application on wood still spinning on the lathe. It is new to me, and time will show me how it works.

 

Good reading, great learning!

 

 

Janel

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Guest Clive

Hi Janel, many thanks for providing those links. Although the information is primarily focused on oils for recorders as you already mentioned, the article does provide a good foundation on which to build a greater scientific understanding that we might use for our particular purposes... and it is really all about purpose isn't it? .. and finding which oil is best suited for the purpose. I liked the article because it clearly sets out to identify what the purpose re oiling was to recorders and then went on to examine how various oils perform. While I don't wish to sound patronising by stating the blindingly obvious, it is critically important when considering the finishing of small highly detailed carvings generally made out of very hard woods and that will get a great deal of handling to follow the same approach.

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Odd! I play the recorders and was taught never to oil the bore or mouthpiece, just to wipe out the spittle with a bottle brush after each use, because oil affects the timbre and can, over the years, clog up the works. Times change, it seems.

 

The article's hlpful, but it looks as though a list of oil drying times on many varieties of wood are needed. It's a research project for someone with the time and inclination, no doubt - just as with the the issues of stains and dyes on wood.

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