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Sealing and staining Wood

 
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Hi i'm ollie, beginner to the permies community, i make walking sticks and things out of wood, but i am having difficulty sealing and staining them, i'm am told all over the internet to buy some sort of oils from supermarkets. But as we all know these things can contain anything, and i'd like to do it properly, with oils that i can buy locally, or at the shops but at least they will be just one oil( or i can do a mix)

Anyway, does anyone have any recomendations for oils to use the seal and stain my wood, i have seen that there are oils like linseed and a few others, i'd like to hear form people that have used them before. Has anyone made a mix of oils that works well?

thank you so much, can't wait to hear from someone

O
 
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What specifications do you have in mind?
What properties are you looking for?
Tung oil with terebine to help drying is good.
Boiled linseed oil, can be sticky.
Vegetable based oils can get mouldy.
Shellac is good
 
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I used raw linseed oil for my wooden counter tops, trim, furniture and interior doors. Raw linseed oil doesn't have the odoriferous drying agents that boiled linseed oil does. Like John said if you don't clean up the excess it will get sticky.

I like to cut in iron oxide in raw linseed oil to create different color stains.
 
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As John said, we need more information please.
Indoor use, outdoor use?  A one and done finish or something that is easy to refresh as needed.  
 
oliver peter Nock
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Well i'm making walking sticks( i made one for my mum, and aslo things a bit more fun like wooden swords and magic wands ans sculptures and stuff.
so basically i'm looking for the best oil(or mixture ) to slean it, maybe stain it, to stop it from cracking.

So terebine dries it then, is it better than drying it slowly ?
Does boiling it help ?

Thanks for the reply !
 
oliver peter Nock
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So linseed sounds good, but it would have to be boiled, and thaen cleaned is that it ? to stop it from going sticky ?

I have made some things, but they crack, because it's drying to fast ? and i've been told to oil it to stop it from happening.
And the staining is mostly to make it look different, different colors, and some things would look cooler with different shades.
 
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Some stains I like are walnut (you get the walnuts off a tree when green and young prick them and leave them in water for a few months), rusty nails in a jar also tea and coffee can work if you want something more immediate. Basically things with tannins in tend to stain black/brown.

Like Aaron says iron oxide pigments are good. If you buy the pigments you can get yellow, red and purple colours.


 
oliver peter Nock
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Well that sounds good because we have walnut trees, i might not be able to pick them for eating ( the squirrels get them first) but that's a good alternative.
i didn't think tea or coffee would be strong enough, is it permatent? if it is sealed or waxed after staining would it stay that colour longer ?

would you know a good place to buy iron oxides ?
 
Henry Jabel
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The permanence depends on the conditions its put through really. If you left it outside for years on end even the most 'permanent' of industrial fence paints needs repainting. If you make a stain with tea or coffee you want it much stronger than usual I would use mutiple tea bags and let it steep for a long while and the same with coffee make it vastly stronger than you would want to drink it.  Just experiment and have fun with it. I used to use it on antiques  so yes it has a long term effect however the walnut is more potent along with the rusty nail (again a form of iron oxide).

If you want iron oxide powder you can buy it from Clearwell caves in Gloucestershire England. However I am going to assume your not in England so perhaps a specialist art shop near you selling pigments would have it.

Yes sealing it does help the stain stay in even a basic wax polish helps


You can pickle the walnuts too when they are immature if the squirrels get them. Its the same time you want to get them for extracting the tannin.
 
John C Daley
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You purchase Boiled Linseed oil, you dont cook it up yourself.
Most oils can take a very long time to dry, Terebine speeds up the process.
Here are some tips from a woodworking forum
https://www.woodworkforums.com/archive/index.php/t-12098.html
 
Aaron Yarbrough
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oliver peter Nock wrote:So linseed sounds good, but it would have to be boiled, and thaen cleaned is that it ? to stop it from going sticky ?

I have made some things, but they crack, because it's drying to fast ? and i've been told to oil it to stop it from happening.
And the staining is mostly to make it look different, different colors, and some things would look cooler with different shades.



No, boiled linseed oil isn't actually boiled. It has solvent added to it to speed up the drying process. To keep raw or boiled linseed oil from going sticky you just have to wipe up the excess. Typically, I'll apply the oil and let it sit for half an hour or so and wipe it anything that hasn't soaked in.
 
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So the most non toxic products I have found are tried and true Danish Oil, and Odies Oil, wood butter, and wax. Both are advertised as food safe, and neither smells chemically to my nose.
Odies oil smells good enough to eat as they use citrus oil in the blend, I think. Tried and true does bot contain tung oil - while most people are fine with it, my family has a history of sensitivity to it, so I avoid it.
Another common one for cutting boards is mineral oil - non sticky, and edible, though petroleum derived.
If you want to make your own, I would experiment with bees wax. The odies wax I mentioned earlier adds a beautiful and pretty durable finish, which can be reapplied without stripping the previous layer. Odies of course doesn’t divulge their proprietary blend, and it probably has other waxes, like canuba, etc. along with various oils and solvents. But with some experimentation - bees wax and linseed oil maybe?- I bet you can find something nice.
If you want a grey, aged wood stain, try soaking steel wool - the kind you get for buffing, not the ones loaded with soap - in vinegar.
 
Lina Joana
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Also, just to clarify - boiled linseed oil CAN be boiled - or rather heated to a high temperature in a controlled process. This is how it was originally done, and I think how tried and and true still does it. You can get the same drying effect with various additives, which is what most “boiled” linseed oil brands do. If you want to boil it at home, I would look for older texts - from the 19th century maybe- for the original process. I’ve seen the term double-boiled thrown around, so I expect it is pretty involved.
If you do, be careful- hot oil is, well, really hot!
 
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Used motor oil protects against termites and gives a nice dark stain and is free.
 
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We like to use tung oil. Apply, wipe of excess and sand with steal wool. Gives it a nice shine.
 
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Haven't posted here in forever...

There are a number of variables here:

* Making a walking stick (or anything) from the full diameter of a "stick" of green wood with the pith running through the center makes checks/cracks likely as the wood dries.  Small diameters will be fine, but above a certain size (depends on species and use) they will crack.
* For walking sticks, where durability and strength really matter, consider picking a really tough, hard wood from your area (Osage Orange, Black Locust, Teak, etc...).  Some woods are naturally rot resistant (like Locust), so those might make be a good choice.
For a walking stick, no finish is also an option, allowing it to develop a patina from use.  If you want to protect carvings and such, read on...
* Ideally, a wood finish would penetrate INTO the wood and harden as it cures INSIDE the wood, and not form a dipped-in-plastic coating on the outside.  If you actually WANT a glossy, dipped in plastic look, there are many polyurethanes or "wipe-on poly" products available at local hardware stores.
* Oil finishes should utilize a "hardening" or "drying" oil -- one that polymerizes as it dries/cures to form a sort of organic plastic-like substance that protects the wood.  Some are very slow to dry, so chemical agents, or driers, are added.  These often contain lead or other metals and can be very toxic.
* One school of thought is that ALL wood finishes are food safe once they are fully cured; I'm not 100% convinced of that.  It depends on the use and the finish.  I tend to stay away from anything with toxic driers in it -- your experience may differ.
* If you want a non-toxic finish you can use for these products as well as other bushcraft items (spoons, bowls, cutting boards, etc...), consider what sort of stuff you would be willing to put in your mouth.  Some companies only make non-toxic finishes (Tried & True -- a favorite -- was mentioned earlier)
* "Boiled Linseed Oil" is generally not boiled.  Many years ago it was, but heating raw linseed oil to the boiling point (to help it polymerize and harden more quickly) is dangerous, and there were too many shop fires and burn injuries to continue the practice.  "BLO" contains heavy metal drying agents.
* Oil finishes have to be used properly to avoid forming a sticky mess.  Many of them instruct you to apply liberal amounts of oil, then after a 15-minute wait, to remove as much of it as you can with a towel, rag, or paper towels.  If you don't do this, you'll have a mess.  Some say to use multiple very light coats, and wait for drying between each  -- just wipe on with a rag or paper towel, then wipe off.
* Rags used in oil finishing should be considered a fire hazard!  The drying (polymerizing) process releases heat, and under some conditions, they can self ignite!  I tend to burn all these items in a wood stove or fire pit.
* Some oil finishes are very water repellant -- others are not.  Pure Tung oil resists water, but takes a loooong time to cure -- like months.  Many nut oils are so-so, but dry much faster, and are very easy to re-apply.
* NON-TOXIC HARDENING OILS:  Walnut oil, Hempseed oil, Linseed oil, Safflower oil, Tung oil (careful here -- many so-called Tung oil finishes contain no actual Tung oil), and a few others.  I especially like Mahoney's Utility Oil (pure heat-treated Walnut oil), Tried & True Original (Linseed oil plus Beeswax), and Tried & True Danish Oil (just pure Linseed oil with no hardeners), and have found light applications of Hemp seed oil from the health food store to work very well.
* Linseed oil is very common in Scandinavian countries for all manner of woodworking.  It can be "cleaned" with water (look up on-line) which helps it dry faster, smell better, and darken the wood less, though that process takes a few weeks.  Cleaning usually involves mixing with water, sand and salt (below).
* Most raw cold pressed nut oils found at your local health food store or food co-op are OK, but generally won't harden as quickly or completely as those which have been heat treated (kinda like boiling) and cleaned to remove impurities.  They may remain sticky due to all the good stuff for salads that's not-so-great for polymerization.  Oils intended for wood finishing will usually perform better.  I haver not seen Hempseed oil that's been treated for woodworking, but the organic salad oil stuff does seem to work quite well.  I may try cleaning some I have on hand...
* Scandinavian oil cleaning method here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi4YweOes5E

That's all for now, folks, hope there's something helpful in here for you.
 
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I highly recommend beeswax mixed with food grade mineral oil. Does not rot, smells amazing, food safe (this is my butcher block paste recipe). You get the food grade mineral oil from the medical area of most stores (got mine at Walmart) and you can source the beeswax from the internet. I got my beeswax from a bag of stubs that a local orthodox monistary gave me.
Melt the beeswax in a Mason jar with the microwave, add in some mineral oil. (Go online for various ratios). Let cool. If you want it thinner, go ahead and re melt and add more oil.

You can re apply as often as you like. Give a small Mason jar of it to whomever you make the items for as a go along gift. They will love it.

Only word of caution, if you put this over a different finish, it will need to be thorough stripped off if you were to do finish repair. That being said, the items you mentioned look better with some dings and dents of use.
 
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If you want to stain the wood, think about how permanent you want  it to be.  Organic stains are much more likely to fade over time.  I learned that the hard way.  Purple stain from red cabbage juice stared fading in just a few months.
Steve Ramsey from the Youtube channel Wood Working for Mere Mortals has a video where he experiments with some home made stains.

Sealing the wood is another matter.
Oils don't really "Seal" in a technical sense.  They penetrate and protect from moisture.  Whether you use an oil finish or a film finish depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

I made a walking stick ages ago, a few years before my now 34 year old son was born, and am still using it.  Over the course of a couple months I put about a dozen coats of Tung oil on it.  The first few coats can be put on one a day.  Later coats take longer and longer to soak in.  I've touched up the finish 3 or 4 times over the years.  Since I added so much Tung oil 3 1/2 decades ago, it only takes a few coats to bring it back to "Like New".
However, if you are selling these, you might want to go with something that doesn't take months to be ready.  There are lots of varnishes and seal finishes that would be ready in a few days.  Like I said, it really depends on what you are trying to accomplish.
 
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Greetings. I’m new to this site - thanks for your patience. I live in Uruguay and cannot access ‘eco’ products. I found a recipe from. Portugués website - for a natural sealer/protector. You can add earth pigments to give it color. All of the ingredients have insect repellent qualities. I’ll try to remember the name of the website..
The recipe:
100g diatomaceous earth
100g borax
100g orange oil (essential oil)
100g wood ash (sifted)
3 liters linseed oil.
Here in Uruguay the oil we bought does not specify whether boiled or not. I imagine not but who knows. In any case, it takes time to dry but is a beautiful finish. And can be further covered with a homemade wax mix,
Which we also used to finish our wood floors. Less is more as my husband and I learned.
I changed the recipe to make it less sticky.
57g caranuba wax
29g beeswax
1 c olive oil
10drops lavender essential oil.
Put the lavender oil in olive oil the night before making the wax. Then melt everything in a double boiler. Voila. Apply lightly then buff.
 
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One person’s experience with boiled linseed oil:

I had a cob floor I wanted to seal.  I knew that modern day commercially available boiled linseed oil was not boiled, it had additives.  I didn’t know what the additives might be, how long they offgassed, or how toxic they might be.

I don’t trust industrial standards to answer that type of question when the truth might get in the way of profit.

So, I ordered flax oil from the soap making oil supplier.

I heated it…. I can’t remember how I decided on the appropriate temperature, but I think I actually boiled it  using a junk store enameled tea kettle .  It was hot enough to be dangerous!

Anyway I poured it onto the dry cob floor, and it soaked in, leaving nothing to wipe up.

It seemed dry, and I could walk on it, but it off gassed for a very long time, to the extent that it was unpleasant to be in there, even with the windows open.  Eventually it didn’t reek of the curing linseed oil.  My theory on that was that the oil had finished polymerizing.

The floor was waterproof and more resistant to abrasion than plain cob… and very beautiful.

I didn’t want to use the same process on my red oak tongue and groove kitchen countertops, so I used the beeswax and mineral oil suggested earlier in this thread.  The truly boiled linseed on the floor never required another coating, the beeswax and mineral oil needed refreshing repeatedly.  And it was very beautiful when freshly treated.
 
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It looks like, rather than just stain, you are looking for a finish too.


Boiled linseed oil [BLO] (treated flax seed oil) is a hardening oil. It hardens via reaction with oxygen. It is the most common oil used in oil based polymer finishes.

As several said, excess MUST be wiped off, or you will get orange peeling.  

BLO is one of the poorest finishes. It does not take kindly to suffering being exposed to water.  It, also, is soft, so dents easy.

BLO tends to darken wood over time.  

Raw flax seed oil takes a week of Sunday's to harden.

Boiled linseed oil is just flax seed oil that has had air ran through it, making it look like it is being boiled. The pre-polymerizes it, after which it is called BLO.


You could swap the BLO for pure tung oil and it would be a LITTLE better.  It doesn't darken wood like BLO, is a little more durable, so is used in high end finishes.


You could go with walnut oil. Like tung oil, it won't darken the wood.

If the container does not say "PURE TUNG OIL" or "100% Tung Oil," it's just a thinned down poly finish using resins and UV protectors.  You could make your own by thinning some of a can of poly.


Regardless which hardening oil you use, you can thin with mineral spirits, turpentine, Naphtha, or D-limonene.  Thinning gives you a bit more penetration, which will help toughen the surface of the wood.

Applying any hardening oil takes patience. Wipe a coat on, let it harden, then wipe another one on. Keep building until you're happy with the build.

SPREAD THE RAGS OUT TO HARDEN THE FINISH IN THEM.  Remember, the smaller the rag, the less rag you have to deal with.


SIDE NOTE ON HARDENING OIL FINISHES: Polyurethane is an oil based finish.

A finish with more hardening oil is called a long oil finish. It tends to less durable, but more flexible. Most high end nautical finishes are long oil finishes, so the finish will shift with the wood, as it gains and looses moisture, rather than cracking.  A short oil finish is one short on oil. It's a harder finish, so is used on floors, for example.

If you go with poly, the oil base will give you that well known amber finish. The waterborne, though less durable, will give you closer to clear.


Shellac is the quick and simple approach. It dries quick. You do not have to sand between coats, because the alcohol eats into the previous applications. For that reason, you should never figure out weird ways us use your shellac finished walking stick to drink hooch.

On the up side, it's one of the easiest finishes to touch up, for the reasons stated.  Just do not try to feather ANY application in. You will leave brush marks and lap marks, because the alcohol evaporates quickly.


I use oil based finishes for the durability.  I ALWAYS thin my first coat or two, or three, to get penetration. A surface with the wood sells saturated with hardened poly is going to be tougher than raw wood.


AS TO STAINS, you have your choice of water based or oil based. Both are compatible with other finishes.  Both must be allowed to dry/harden before you move on to finish.

Water based is more prone to [over] lap marks than the oil base, and can raise grain, requiring a LIGHT sanding and touch up (grain should raise the second time around).


Stain should not be confused with dyes. Stain is a surface coat, but does get into surface pores. Dye soaks in.

Dye, gives you a LOT of color choices. You can get vibrant blues and so on in dyes.  You can dye, then stain, if that is your want. I've done that to get a REALLY dark walnut stain without adding the stain to the finish.

Dye and UV light, over time, do not play well together.



On mineral oil, it is a non-hardening oil. It is a better choice for cutting boards and blocks, with one exception - high moisture content wood, as others noted, dries, resulting in cracks and splits.  This can be overcome with non-hardening oil.  Thin the oil, say 15% to 20%, and apply it. Wherever the oil and thinner soak in, add more.  This will saturate the wood and swell the saturated areas, keeping cracks and splits at bay.  

I restored an old end grain butcher block using mineral oil.  As long as it was willing to suck it up, I kept adding.  When it slowed down [taking more oil], I'd slather it on, walk away and do something else. Then I'd come back to it, on the way to doing something else.  At the end of the day, I slathered a lot on, walked away and forgot about the project for a few weeks. When I came back, the wood had swollen and the hundreds of tiny cracks, splits and joint separations disappeared.

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I have used a oil blend on gunstocks and hardwood floors for years. Tung oil and boiled linseed oil at 50/50 then add a bit of lemon oil.
 
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crushed charcoal will get into the grain of any wood for something like a stain,then mineral oil or parrafin wax rubbed and polished will seal

used motor oil will stain and seal although it maybe slightly toxic,ive had it on my hands many times with no ill effects
 
John C Daley
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WARNING- WARNING
RAGS SOAKED IN LINSEED OIL SHOULD BE LAID OUT WHEN FINISHED WITH
THEY CAN SPONTANEOUSLY IGNITE OTHERWISE
NEVER CRUNCH THEM UP AND LEAVE ANYWHERE THAT CAN BURN YOUR BUILDING DOWN!!!
 
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Be aware, for all practical purposes, there is no "lemon oil."  It's just mineral oil with a lemon scent.

That said, one can buy distilled lemon oil, but it's a lot more spendy than the bottles of lemon oil we find downtown.


fred hans wrote:I have used a oil blend on gunstocks and hardwood floors for years. Tung oil and boiled linseed oil at 50/50 then add a bit of lemon oil.

 
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Thank you John for the warning. It's true!  I like to use 2 to 3 coats of Danish oil on my walking sticks
 
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G'day John, I used to live in Perth and dabbled quite a bit in woodwork. The best finishing oil that I found is orange oil finish. Unfortunately I cannot remember the company that I got it from.
It gives a great finish to the wood, smells great and the surface becomes quite hard, making it easy to clean. After I started using it , 20 years ago, I found out that all the furniture in Parliameny House, Canberra was finished using it!

Stay safe all.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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While we are on the topic, I wonder if anyone can tell me exactly what Danish oil is.  It gives a beautiful finish, and I was taught to use 600 grit wet dry sandpaper to sand it while it was wet…

And also tung oil.  What is THAT?  And is it really food safe?
 
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John beat me to it.

Every time I come across suggestions involving linseed oil, I shudder when nobody mentions the danger that comes from rags used to wipe off excess linseed oil.

Decades ago, when we used to play hockey, we used coconut oil to wipe the hockey stick. This was supposed to seep into the wood and keep it supple.

In those days it was cheap and plentiful. Now it is an expensive superfood.

So I use used engine oil.
 
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There's some good info here on Linseed oil.  As several others have mentioned, boiling (either with heat or with additives) is to speed the "drying" process (it dries through oxidation and polymerization, not through evaporation).

Here are a few more bits I've pulled from Stephen Shepherd's Shellac, Linseed Oil, & Paint:
  • heat boiling is done at 300*F
  • the flash point is 420*F, be wary of fires if you try to heat-boil without good temperature control
  • once some linseed oil is boiled (or otherwise the polymerization has been jump-started), it can be added to other (raw) linseed oil to boil the whole; the book suggests 25% boiled to 75% raw

  • some other ways to speed the polymerization process (all of these can be used as "seeds" to "boil" a quantity of raw oil and mentioned above):
  • blown linseed oil has had air forced through it (the access to oxygen thus allowing the process to begin for oil not at the surface)
  • sun thickened linseed oil is made by leaving raw linseed oil in a clear container (glass is probably best) and placed in the sun; the viscosity increases throughout the polymerization process
  • stand oil is heated to 550*F for a long period of time; it becomes very viscous


  • Regarding oily rags, this oxidation process releases heat, and a pile of oily rags can easily become hot enough to spontaneously combust.  Dispose of your rags properly.  The simple way is to hang them to dry out doors where the heat dissipates as fast as it's produced.  The "industrial" way is to submerge them in a container of water, then pay to have them hauled away somewhere.

    Also note that linseed oil can be used to make cloth or leather waterproof (oilcloth, oilskins) or to make tack  cloth (for removing fine dust from wood before applying a finish).  Perhaps a rag from applying linseed oil as a finish can also have another life in your shop after being allowed to safely dry.
     
    Thekla McDaniels
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    All that is fascinating, Brian.  Especially surprising to me is that raising the temperature to 300 F makes an additive for the larger volume.

    I think I did raise mine th 300, because I remember the thermometer…. Just didn’t thin it with the raw stuff,

    But now I wonder how they figured all that out!

    Kind of like wondering how the processes for making soap were discovered, or cheese😊
     
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