My first thread - Black Walnut finishing, not sure about..

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MissEmmaLee

New User
Emily
First off, Hello!
I have been lurking for awhile, well, since I cut down a large walnut in the backyard, and it's' been drying for over 2 years in my basement. I finally took two of the boards and had them planed and glued, sanded..Been using the Watco Danish Oil to finish.

I am making a kind of desk that is basically just the boards. Nothing fancy, I want to wood to do most of the work.

I think I have been in too much of a rush. I have been applying layers of Watco, and noticed a kind of silvery sheen to the wood. I was thinking it was excess? Not sure - any advice would be appreciated.



Full board:
 

Tarhead

Mark
Corporate Member
Welcome Emily!
Beautiful Walnut! Tell us a little bit more about your finishing schedule. Are you using an abrasive/Steel Wool/3M Scrub pad to scuff the surface between coats? If so are you using a Shop Vac and vac brush to clean the surface after scuffing? Tack cloths can't get the powder out of the grain. If it's not that then I'm at a loss.

Oh, be sure to post an introduction in the Who We Are forum and let us know a little more about you.
 

Sealeveler

Tony
Corporate Member
Welcome to the crowd.Good looking wood there.Just sanding between coats.I have a couple test with Watco and mahogany going in the garage now so will be watching the responses here.
Tony
 

sazdaman

New User
Steve
First off, were the boards already cut from the log before drying? Wood typically air drys at 1" per year. If you're ok there, I have found when using walnut that it is a very porous wood. Some will say it's not, but if you look very closely you will see that there are many small little porous area's of the wood. I usually fill the grain so that when I sand in between coats, nothing can accumulate in those areas. A great product you can use is Timbermate wood filler. I have had great luck with this I use it on instruments when I make them. I doesn't shrink, it's water based, in my opinion great stuff. You can find it here: http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Finishing_supplies/Fillers_and_putties/Timbermate_Wood_Filler.html
:gar-Bi
 

Tarhead

Mark
Corporate Member
Just a quick comment on Timbermate. It dries much lighter than the wet tone. Get the darkest color and add some black dye if you're putting it on Walnut.
 

sazdaman

New User
Steve
I have found that if you want Timbermate black the ebony works just fine. It may dry lighter than black to the eye, but when you apply any finish to it, it blackens right up.
 

MissEmmaLee

New User
Emily
So glad you all can help with this!
So, am I too late to use the wood filler, since I've already used the Danish Oil?
I can see where the dust and stuff could get into the pours.
I also don't want to change the color of the wood, too much..

Also, I have NO problem if I am doing something wrong and need any advice
THANK YOU! I love this place


The story of the boards is pretty funny. It feel victim to the 1000 Canker Disease, something we have very badly here. I had a great tree guy cut it down when he pointed out the potential for wood. He cut the logs pretty long and gave me Daniel Mayer's number with the portable mill. He was great.

Had a blast milling the wood and he really did a great job telling me what to do. (I was going to make flooring from it :eusa_doh:)

So I stacked it, made sure it would dry nicely - and it did. I have a bunch of it.
 

Howard Acheson

New User
Howard
Are you using "Natural" Watco or one of the tinted Watco's?

How many coats of Watco have you applied? Did you thoroughly wipe off the excess after letting it set for 15-20 minutes?

What exactly were the steps you used for application?

Looks like you could have some sanding dust trapped in the grain and sort of "glued" in by the resin in Watco.
 

MissEmmaLee

New User
Emily
Been using Watco Walnut Oil - that's it.

I brought it back from the the guy who glued and planed it, he ran it through the HUGE belt sander a bunch of times, it was pretty smooth - but not sure of the grit. I got home, wiped it down, then applied some Walnut Oil, maybe 3 times?

Since then I've sanded it once with 400 grit, and about to wipe it down with some tact cloth. I haven't put more on yet..
 

JWBWW

New User
John
Best finishing schedule I have found for Watco is in Tage Frid's book. Essentially he recommends flooding the surface and wiping down as Watco instructions call for. Then flood again and walk away for 24 hours or so. Then flood once more and sand while wet with 220 or 320 to generate a slurry that will fill pores better than anything commercial. Wipe down and finish the following day with another Watco coat in the traditional manner. Final surface is glass smooth and surprisingly resistant to normal contaminants.

If you don't own a set of Frid's books (Volumes 1-3) you can find them used at Alibris at way good prices and no woodworker's library should be without them.

Good luck.
 

JWBWW

New User
John
Just read Jeff's link and it is, for all intent and purpose, the same kind of thing that Frid suggests. It is time consuming for commercial work but yields a great "natural" finish without leaving too much room for error.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
For a desk, I want a more durable finish than Danish oil. I like water based finishes because I usually spray. A very easy to apply finish that offers more protection, especially with lots of coats, is a wipe on poly (oil based). You can make your own by thinning regular oil based poly 1/3 mineral spirits to 2/3 poly. It is thinner than the straight poly so you need more coats to build to a similar thickness. Another thing to be aware of with walnut is it will fade from sunlight. If you do not want that to occur, get an outdoor finish with a UV inhibitor. It will at least slow it a lot. Fine Woodworking tested a lot of wipe on finishes some time ago and ended up selecting Minwax's wipe on poly as both the best and the best value. Danish oil was in their test but I don't remember why they didn't like it as well.

I don't think you've hurt anything with the danish oil. If you let it dry a week or so you should be able to put other finishes over it. Oil based would probably be safer. You might try a small section first just in case you have to sand it off.

I doubt the large sander used on your boards got them really smooth enough for finish. I usually sand to 220 grit before applying finish. My guess is the belts were no finer than 100 grit but I could be wrong. If you can still see scratches, you need to get an orbital sander (I use a Milwaukee which I like a lot) and spend a little time sanding. I would start with 100, then 150, then 220. If the surface does not have chips out of it or anything, it will not take long. More traditional "finishing sanders" are much, much, slower than orbital sanders. Newer orbitals are about as fast as a belt sander (which works fine but is harder to use at first).

If my comments do not properly respect your knowledge of woodworking please do not take it personally, I just don't know how much experience you have. I am guessing not a lot but I could very easily be wrong.

Jim
 

JWBWW

New User
John
Watco has many properties of aniline dyes... and it is wonderful for color and figure enhancement. For all intent and purpose it is much like homemade oil-varnish blends. In my experience... which is limited... it's greatest virtues are that it delivers a warm and natural finish that is completely repairable and requires nothing more than a rag and energy. In a wonderful way it gets you closer to your work.

Like I said before, it is far too time consuming to use it or its related oils in commercial applications. I tend to spray all of my work with nc lacquers... much of the time precats... and I suffer the consequences of customers who call me back for repairs after someone gouges "the perfect surface" with a fork or rams the great leg with the vacuum. Every finish has its weaknesses. Like any choice... there are always tradeoffs.

Flexner's book makes a point of evaluating each project and matching finish to use and material. This is a luxury for anyone working with a deadline and anxious customer. But for woodworkers with the time who are enjoying shop therapy the notion of choosing a finish specific to the project at had... well this is the way it's meant to be.
 

bluedawg76

New User
Sam
Been using Watco Walnut Oil - that's it.

I brought it back from the the guy who glued and planed it, he ran it through the HUGE belt sander a bunch of times, it was pretty smooth - but not sure of the grit. I got home, wiped it down, then applied some Walnut Oil, maybe 3 times?

Since then I've sanded it once with 400 grit, and about to wipe it down with some tact cloth. I haven't put more on yet..
When you say "wiped it down", I'm guessing this was with a tack cloth. IMO, these tend to leave a sticky residue if you're not careful. After finish sanding (120, 150/180, 220), I prefer to either wipe it down with a dry swiffer pad and/or a paper towel wet w/ either alcohol (DNA) or mineral spirits. Then let it dry completely (which is fast for alcohol and takes an hr or more with MS depending on the conditions). You can also look for sanding scratches that you may have missed during this time as they will be readily evident. During finishing (i.e. scuff sanding between coats), I absolutely avoid tack cloths as the stickies are unfriendly.

When you say you applied Watco 3x, was this according to the manufacturer's recommendation of flood, let sit, then wipe it off? Should be fine. How long did you wait between applications? Was it fully dry or still tacky? Also, note that Danish oil is not a film building finish like a varnish (i.e. polyurethane). It's an oil varnish blend so it's not really meant to build up via multiple coats, but instead give that "in the wood" feel. I agree that I'm not sure it would be durable enough for a desk top, YMMV. I'd also go with the wipe-on poly. Howard Acheson has a nice writeup on this.
http://www.ncwoodworker.net/forums/showthread.php?t=39386&highlight=wipe+poly

For an oil/varnish, usually 2, but no more than 3 coats should do it. I wouldn't sand in between unless there were some dust nibs I was trying to pick off and then I'd very gently wipe w/ 320 or 400 about as hard as I'd rub my bare skin with sandpaper. Wipe the dust off with a swiffer or dry paper towel. As to the "silver sheen":

1) remaining dust from the sander, but if you wiped it down, this should be minimal
2) pores not filled. This is a personal preference IMO, but won't cause the silver streaks you're seeing. I don't fill the grain in walnut, and I don't see this effect.
2) poor surface prep due to low grit final sand (i.e. 120 grit) rather than following it up to 150/180 and then 220. Look for sanding scratches. that said, this would not cause you're problem but rather would just leave scratches that are accentuated by the finish.
3) Finish not fully dry before applying another coat. This has a whole host of problems that an anxious finisher like myself has screwed up more than once. Thinned finishes help here. If it's tacky walk away til it's dry (i.e. not tacky). Use the pinky test (i.e. touch it with your pinky finger)
4) Sanding through the finish. I learned not to do this the hard way. Does the finish look level or do the "silver streaks" appear to be low spots w/ less finish (which may also be evident by the sheen on these patches)?
5) Are you flooding the finish on and "working it in" i.e. don't just brush it on, but swirl it round and round, back and forth to make sure you get an even coat and good penetration. I like a tri-folded paper towel or a piece of old T-shirt. Some areas will absorb more than others so keep adding it til it's even. Then of course wipe it off after about 10min and then check thereafter for any seeping out. Also, if there is any dirt or oils (or tack cloth stickies) on the wood, this can interfere with the application.

HTH,
Sam
 

MissEmmaLee

New User
Emily
Again, thanks so much. I have NO problem being told I am clueless and screwing things up.

So, thoughts and bullet points:
  • Yup, I think I was way to fired up and didn't give enough time between, and didn't wipe enough off.
  • The silvery effect isn't in the tool marks, but seems to be in the rings that are lighter - which makes me think they are more porous.
  • I do think that maybe filler may work - but seems like Butcherblock didn't have this problem
  • It's not so much like a desk, but a shelf - that has 2 legs. It's neat. My goal being I don't screw up the wood, for when I have a better grasp of things.
  • It won't be in the direct sun, but I do have some goofball kids
  • I do think I'll need a type of poly/mineral for a finish, again, not in to the super shiny.
  • "evaluating each project" I see that now, I am not a commercial woodworker by far, but do have some great things in mind :)

It's snowing, so my woodworking area is limited. So, taking some time, and will have a go later around Thursday.

Now, if I can just figure out how this hand planner works..hummm - With the grain, right?

kidding :slap:
 

bluedawg76

New User
Sam
i have royally screwed up a finish or 2 or 3 in my time, such that I was forced to sand it off and start anew. That's why finishing takes me twice as long as building the project. :BangHead: I don't think yours is at that level.

As for sheen choice for polyurethanes and varnishes, in my experience, the flatteners present in the lower sheens tend to cloud the clarity when they're built up w/ multiple coats as a finish rather than just reduce the sheen. Instead, I tend to use the gloss for all but the final coat which retains the clarity as best as poly can. For the final coat you can either use a lower sheen or just use the gloss and "rub it out" to dull the finish. You'll get the reduced sheen but with the clarity of the wood retained.

Sam
 
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MissEmmaLee

New User
Emily
Okay, so I'll be back at it today -

How does this sound:
Taking some 400-600 sandpaper to it and lightly sanding off the crud
Wiping down
Wiping down
Then seeing what I have to work with -
If I should use a filler, or Watco, and not gobbing it up - letting it sit
Wiping down
Wiping down

:wconfused:

**Oh, I did hear from a flyrod builder that using coffee filters are lint free, and what they use for wiping down wood before finishing..
 

JWBWW

New User
John
If it was me I would back up to 150 sandpaper... maybe 120 with a random orbit until nothing is left of the initial widebelt sander. Progress to no finer than 220. Finish sand before Watco with 220 hand sanding or simple orbital sander. Flood with Watco and give the thing 30 minutes. Flood again and wet sand with 320 until you've developed a good slurry. Wipe it down and walk away until tomorrow. Tomorrow flood and reflood after 20 to 20 minutes. Wipe it down. DEcide whether you want higher gloss. If yes re-wet and move up to 400 or 600 wetsanding.

In my experience 400 and 600 papers are useful only wet and with finish stages... not on bare wood as an oil needs to penetrate to "work.' Finer grits make that penetration difficult. I have also found that finer sanding impedes good color results with dyes... especially so in figured woods (e.g. tiger and quilted and birds eye maple).

Good luck.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I would also start out with much coaser paper and go no further than 220. Finer sandpapers are not normally for woodworking. If you put on lots of coats of finish and want to get it perfectly smooth, you can use sandpaper like this and finer to work on getting a high gloss finish - not what you are after. 80 or 100 to start, 150 next and 220 for final sanding would be typical for me. The wood should start looking nice at 150 and there should be no visible scratches at 220.

I also normally use gloss poly. Less glossly poly has material in it to disperse the light. These have to be mixed up constantly during application or they don't work. If you don't like a glossy final appearance, very fine steel wool over the project will knock it down quickly.
 
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