This wood finishing tips card is about oil finishes. When you are a new woodworker, oil finishes are some of the easiest to learn. They make finishing simple, and can have you feeling like an expert right away. Here is how you get started.
The Humble Oil Finish
Oil finishes have been around for a long time. There have been people coating things in oils to preserve them for thousands of years.
Everything from early pottery, to paintings, and even wooden creations have been preserved in oil. After all, thousands of years ago there were few woodworking stores available to buy lacquer from.
Oils were all around early wood finishers. Linseed, Olive, and other plant oils were found in nature, and used to coat and preserve things.
The beauty of an oiled piece of wood is amazing. Very few modern finishes can even come close to the look of a well oiled piece of wood. In fact, most modern finishes are all trying to accomplish the same look as an oil finish, but with the modern protection that a film finish offers. There is beauty in oil finishes, but there is one drawback that can affect the way you handle the pieces you finish… Read more “Wood Finishing Tips Cards – Oil Finishes”
This Wood Finishing Tips Card is called Apply Thin Coats. This is the real secret to wood finishing that many new woodworkers can benefit from. Thinner coats dry faster, are much more smooth when applied, and they make the finishing process easier. Here is how:
Apply Thin Coats
This is the first in my newest series of Tips Cards, and these focus on Wood Finishing. After you make something in the shop, you are going to need to finish it. This is where some woodworkers have a hard time.
It’s partially the fault of the finish manufacturers, and partially the fault of other woodworkers. Finishing has this myth and lore about it, making the process seem more difficult than it really is.
The truth is finishing is really easy, and you only need to know how to apply a couple different products to be successful. Once you are comfortable with the few finishes you need, all you need to do is pick out the right one.
In reality, unless you are making a really wide variety of projects, you can even get away with one really good finish. After a while, you can experiment with more, but you may never need to. No matter what you choose, here is the best piece of advice that I have ever received about wood finishing… Read more “Wood Finishing Tips Cards – Apply Thin Coats”
This Woodworking Tips Card is called How to Choose a Finish. When you walk into the woodworking store, the wall full of finishing products can be intimidating. Just remember, this is more about marketing than the difficulty of finishing. You really don’t need to know them all, and here is what you do instead:
How to Choose a Finish for Your Project
Most woodworkers tend to make similar projects at the same time. It’s rare that someone makes an outdoor table, then a pepper mill, then kitchen cabinets, and a play house. Most of the time, a woodworker that likes smaller projects will make smaller projects.
The same goes for woodworkers that make outdoor stuff, or that make furniture. The individual pieces will change over time, but the style tends to be the same.
This is great for learning about wood finishing.
Even though there may be dozens of different wood finishing products to choose from at the woodworking store, don’t be discouraged. Since most of the time you will be making a project of a similar style, you will tend to only need one or two types of wood finish. Not only does this make the process much easier for you, but it also helps you become a better wood finisher. When you practice one finish over and over, you can become very skilled at applying it… Read more “Wood Finishing Tips Cards -How To Choose a Finish”
This Wood Finishing Tips Card is called Use Fresh Product. Woodworkers are notoriously frugal when it comes to their craft. While saving scraps and controlling costs is a very good thing, it can actually cost more money and time when it comes to finishing. Here is why:
Use Fresh Product for Wood Finishing
It’s very important to use fresh product when you are finishing a project. There are many reasons, but the biggest is that you can actually ruin your entire project right near the end if you use a bad can of finish.
Not only does ruining a project cost money, it also costs time and energy. The process of losing a project right near the end is devastating. More so if you had a deadline, or was planning on selling the piece.
In some really bad cases, it can be extremely difficult or impossible to remove the finish. This means starting over, and sometimes it can be really though to muster up the energy to begin again right after failure.
Staining wood is a pretty straight forward process on the surface, but there is so much that you can do if you take the time to experiment with stains. If you have been making things, then you definitely have scraps laying around. Those are a gold mine for staining and experimenting with.
You can really do some amazing things with wood stains. Staining wood is a way to color the surface and create an interesting look that the wood did not have naturally.
Wood finishing on the lathe is a fun process. It takes a lot of the time out of finishing, and the results happen almost instantly in front of your eyes. You also have the ability to control the level and intensity of your stained finishes. For these two reasons, I love to finish while the piece is still on the lathe whenever possible. The following covers manipulating dye stains while on the lathe.
Finishing on the Lathe – How to Start
The first step for finishing your piece while still on the lathe is to apply your stain. I like to use pieces of paper towel, pipe cleaners, or small gun cleaning patches that are made from cotton.
Dip one of these in your stain, and turn on your lathe. I leave my lathe at whatever speed I was using last, as long as it’s in the low to medium range. Super high speeds can turn your stain into a geyser, which is funny and tragic at the very same time. It can also be dangerous, so be careful. Touch the applicator to the piece, and rub it across until the entire surface of the wood has been coated. In this case, black is used on Briar, which turns the wood from a tan color to a jet black. Read more “Wood Finishing on the Lathe – A Basic Guide”
There are hundreds of secrets to wood finishing. However, there is really only one that you really need to know. Thin coats make finishing 1000 times easier than anything else you can do. If you apply thin coats, you will win at wood finishing.
Most new woodworkers have a habit of trying to speed things along. They feel unsure of their results, so they think if they go faster, they can get to the end faster. While this does get you through the process quicker, it does not get you to the end in better shape.
Finishing is the same. New finishers tend to apply a thick layer of finish. This comes from the old thought that more is better. They think a nice thick helping of finish will make their project beautiful, and save them time.
This is where most finishing projects fail. A super thick coating can take forever to dry, and sometimes it will never fully dry. The result is a gummy mess of a finish that detracts from the look of the piece. It also may render the project completely useless, especially if the finish never dries. Where a simple attempt to speed things up fails, taking the long way actually does speed things up in the end. Read more “The Secret to Wood Finishing”
Rustic pieces are super popular. This rustic wood staining technique will have you creating rustic finishes on your projects easily, and with one simple application. I use this process on many of my projects, and it gives the wood a much nicer look.
There is a look at the finished board that I am demonstrating with in this tutorial. You can see that the stain has an irregular look, and has not evenly colored the board. This difference in color density adds depth, and gives the wood a rustic look.
Pine is the best species of wood to use for the rustic wood staining technique. Thankfully, it’s also one of the least expensive to buy, and easiest to work. Pine has varying densities in the wood, and is one of the hardest species to stain evenly. This is an advantage for rustic style staining, because the distressed irregular look is what you are going for. Read more “Rustic Wood Staining Technique”
One of the biggest hurtles to woodworking is wood finishing. Thankfully, there are some easy wood finishes for beginners. Hand applied finishes have been used for centuries. These create a warm glow on your work, and leave it well protected. They are also very easy to apply.
Hand applied finishes are still one of the most commonly available finishes. They require no additional equipment, and can be applied with a clean cloth.
Repairing the finish is easy in most cases, as a fresh coating can restore the look.
Some of these easy wood finishes include Linseed Oil, Tru-Oil, Danish Oil, Arm-R-Seal, and Shellac. Each of these have their own properties, but they all apply easily. Also, these products are not expensive. For as little as $10 in some cases, you can have a bottle that will last a long time on smaller projects. They also work well on larger projects too. Read more “Easy Wood Finishes for Beginners”
Staining wood with steel wool and vinegar is an easy way to incorporate an older method of chemically staining wood. Modern stains use dyes and pigments to add color to wood. When you use this steel wool and vinegar recipe, you are chemically altering the wood itself. This is different than adding a color layer like with a modern stain.
Steel Wool and Vinegar Stain: The Ingredients
There is a small amount of preparation that you need to do before you can start staining wood with this recipe. First, head to the store and buy a bottle of Distilled White Vinegar, a couple 8oz. glass jars, and a package of 0000 steel wool.
These ingredients only cost a few dollars, and can be used to make quite a large volume of wood stain.
It is important to buy the exact ingredients on the list, and make sure that the steel wool is the 0000 type. Steel wool comes in a few different types. Each are marked with a scale ranging from 0 to 0000. The 0000 variety is the thinnest, and will work best in the reaction.
Making the Wood Stain
In an 8oz. glass jar, put one of the 0000 steel wool pads. Then pour in the distilled white vinegar until the pad is covered. This will fill the jar to within 1/2 an inch from the top.
Make sure to wear your safety equipment, as you do not want to get vinegar in your eyes.
Leave the mixture to rest with the lid off for several days or several weeks. The batch in the picture was made only four days ago, and it has already turned color nicely. Some woodworkers have seen their batches take longer, but this is a little higher steel wool to vinegar ratio, so it makes a concentrated liquid.
Essentially, the acid in the vinegar eats the steel wool, creating a solution that chemically alters wood. Strain your steel wool and vinegar wood stain through a coffee filter or a paper towel, and the resulting liquid is your stain.
Applying Steel Wool and Vinegar Stain
Depending on the type of wood that you are working with, the reaction can be different. Some woods take a while to darken, some darken quickly. Others darken quite a bit, while some don’t change much at all.
On this piece of Briar, it only took about five seconds to darken.
Briar is a commonly used wood for making tobacco pipes. In finishing, a dark under stain is applied, and then sanded back, leaving only the dark grain. This steel wool and vinegar stain does the job of an under stain very well. It also dries fairly quickly.
Wear the same protective equipment that you use when handling stain and finishing, and apply an even coat of your homemade wood stain to the surface.
Depending on the wood, it will darken over time as the solution begins working on the wood.
Leave the piece for several hours to allow the stain to have the maximum impact on the wood, and you can also leave the surface extra wet to increase the effect. On this piece, I left a layer of liquid on the top, and allowed it to penetrate into the wood. The more time this wood stain stays on the piece, the more of an effect it will have.
Sanding Your Homemade Wood Stain For Contrast
Here is another piece of Briar that I stained with vinegar yesterday. I have had good luck with sanding after a couple hours. However, leaving it overnight can produce better results on some woods.
Sand the surface with very fine sandpaper to pull back some of the wood stain. This reveals the grain, and gives it contrast.
Briar is a burl, so there is a lot of grain to see when it has a coating of steel wool and vinegar wood stain. You can control the amount of color simply by varying the sanding. If you want more black, sand less. If you want less black, sand more.
I made my wedding ring from Briar, and used this same contrast staining technique.
After sanding the wood, you can now apply a lighter color of stain, which will color the rest of the piece, and add contrast. You can also just finish the piece, and have a very interesting story to tell about how you made your own wood stain.
If you have any questions on Steel Wool and Vinegar Wood Stain, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.
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