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David Stokes
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I'm wondering if anyone knows of any good treatments for exposed wood? I've heard of concoctions involving bee's wax. Around where I live, some people use crude oil. Looking for non-toxic and easy to make but thoughts of any kind are welcome.
Thanks!
Dave
 
John Polk
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I have used raw linseed oil, cut 50/50 with real turpentine.
Keep applying it until the wood quits absorbing it, then a couple of coats of undiluted linseed oil on top.
Since it is clear(ish), you retain a natural wood appearance - like non-glossy varnish.

Real easy to renew it later (faster/easier than repainting).





 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Try this site for info and sources, good luck.

http://www.heritagenaturalfinishes.com/
 
David Stokes
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Thanks for your help. The raw linseed oil with turpentine is working great. I will try Land Ark on my next project.
-David
 
Marcus Hoff
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I've been looking into the same thing since I need to treat a lot of wood for both inside and outside use.
As far as I can read, if you want to do naturally it's oil and wax. The best oil is Tung oil followed by linseed (flax) oil and the best wax is beeswax. Both Tung oil and beeswax are waterproofing. I have read claims, that either will waterproof 100% - I haven't found a solid reference for this.
You can either apply the oil and wax on their own or you can mix them. Depending in the mixture you either get a finish you can paint or rub on the wood. The turpentine is only added to liquify the mixture. As far as I can read, the mixture of oil and wax make a chemical reaction in the wood - but I haven't found a solid reference for this.
How you mix and apply these depends on your usage. Remember neither oil nor wax really protects against mechanical damage (scratches), nor will they give the wood UV protection.

Personally I have three places I'm going to use this and I'm going to do it in different ways. I have roof rafters, interior doors and exterior doors and windows.
The rafters are not subject to moisture or mechanical damage. So these I'm going to treat with a mixture of olive oil, beeswax and turpentine.
The interior doors are subject to mechanical damage but no moisture. These I going to give olive oil, mixture of olive oil and beeswax and finish of with pure beeswax.
The exterior parts are subject to moisture and mechanical damage. I'm going to stain these first, so that UV damage doesn't show. Then I'm going to treat them with Tung oil, mixture of tung oil, beeswax and turpentine and finally beeswax.

The reason I'm using olive oil in the house, is because it grows locally and is really cheap compared to other oils. I'm going through the extensive processes of applying several different layers, because I would rather do this once and wait years before I have to re-apply anything. If you just treat your wood with linseed oil, you will most likely have to do it at least once year (twice in my climate).

/Marcus
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Marcus, et al,

The recommendation I made are probably the most traditional and longest lasting as well as used historically. The mix is a of pine rosin, tung oil, flax oil, citrus oil and beeswax, matrix. To which we add a UV stabilizer and fire suppressant in most cases. For the fungal control we will often use borate salts. Pine tar oil (not coal tar) can also augment these formulas or be used by themselves. Proper mix and application is critical.

You don not want to use, (or waste your time with) olive oils on wood as they are a "non drying" oil unlike tung and flax oil which are "drying oils" that will form a solid natural polymer finish.

Olive oil is incapable of forming these solid and enduring polymers chains chemically.

Three coats is all that is ever required even in the harshest of conditions, and reapplication is dependant on conditions. Most exterior only require it ever 3 to 10 years, while interior does not require reapplication seldom if ever if the formula is correct and applied properly.

No treatment is 100% water proof, not even most epoxies.

Thick coats of wax come the closest but are not practical.

Regards,

jay
 
John Elliott
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Marcus Hoff wrote:
You can either apply the oil and wax on their own or you can mix them. Depending in the mixture you either get a finish you can paint or rub on the wood. The turpentine is only added to liquify the mixture. As far as I can read, the mixture of oil and wax make a chemical reaction in the wood - but I haven't found a solid reference for this.
How you mix and apply these depends on your usage. Remember neither oil nor wax really protects against mechanical damage (scratches), nor will they give the wood UV protection.


The chemical reaction that occurs is not with the wood itself, but polymerization of the oils on the surface of the wood. First two oil molecules form a dimer, then react with a third to form a trimer, then a fourth to form a tetramer, and by that time, it's no longer very volatile. That is what is meant by "drying" oils; not dry as in "they evaporate" but dry as in "the polymerized oil is less volatile". Which bring us to Jay's observation that olive oil is not a "drying" oil. Oleic acid is only mono-unsaturated, so there's not much there to polymerize, while linolenic acid, the fatty acid in linseed oil has three double bonds that can act as polymerization sites. In theory, you could add olive oil to linseed oil, if you want to extend the linseed oil, and it would still polymerize and "dry".

And contrary to what you said about UV protection, organic molecules do absorb in the near-UV part of the spectrum, so they can give some UV protection (although I will agree it's not a lot). To get a lot of UV protection you want to get some aromatic rings into the mix. Natural plant pigments are a good source of such aromatics as is lignin. If you boil your own linseed oil, throw some flower petals or brown oak leaves into the mix and you can extract some aromatic compounds from them that will markedly increase the UV protection. Of course, you're going to end up with a much darker oil and a darker finish to your wood.

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Awesome info John E. !!!

If you ever catch me getting my chemistry screwed up, please step in. I would really appreciate it. From reading your post, I must assume either a strong biochemistry background or related field in your past? Great stuff you shared and well worth folks knowing as finishes (especially traditional and natural) are one of the largest areas I see misinformation, another probably being pest control chemistry.

Something I forgot to add or suggest is olive oil on butcher or abattoir wood cutting blocks is a common practice, but coconut oil is much better and does not seem to go rancid. Something to do with the type of polymer chain in coconut oil. Do you know anything about this John?

Also, I have used canola oil in my chain saws (especially my big milling chainsaws) for over 20 years, do you have any experience with this John? What do you use?

Regards,

jay
 
Marcus Hoff
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Hi Jay,
thank you very much for clearing that up (and helping my wife with the Borax thing).
I'll do a linseed solution mix inside and a tung oil mix outside. Tung is expensive.
I think I'll do the mix myself, since the oils are expensive on their own and the ready to use mixes are even more expensive.
It's great to get help here, since building a house "properly" is quite challenging because I have to figure everything out myself and explain it to the builders. The builders we have are great and they love learning from us, but I find my self running really fast to keep up with the things they need to know in time.
I had to figure out all the details of a double roof construction and explain them to the builders and get hold of the materials (not all are available in Spain).

I found a place in Germany, that sells Tung oil at reasonable prices, do you know a place where we can buy linseed oil and Borax at reasonable price?

/Marcus
 
Burra Maluca
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Marcus Hoff wrote:
do you know a place where we can buy linseed oil and Borax at reasonable price?


I'm based just over the border from you in Portugal and last year I found a 25kg bag of Borax in an agricultural merchants for €25. I still have loads left - if you lived closer you could collect some as I really don't see me ever using that much. I've also seen it since in a more modern agricultural suppliers sold as an ant killer in much smaller packs, and it's also available on amazon.co.uk. The Portuguese use the same word for borax, but pronounce it 'borash' - I don't know if it's the same in Spanish.

The linseed oil was more expensive, around $75 for 25 litres. It's labelled oleo de linhaca Again, I'm not sure if they use the same words in Spanish. It's also possible to buy it a litre at a time from most builders merchants. If the shop assistants look at you as though you are crazy, find the old guy who owns the place and ask him. In our experience they make more profit selling modern chemicals, but around here they go all glassy eyed and remember the stuff they used to use in their youth and bend over backwards to get stuff in for you. The younger guys just think you're out of date and need educating about the delights of modern toxic gick.

 
John Elliott
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I believe the Spanish for linseed is linaza, if that will help you track some down.

In answer to Jay's question, the reason coconut oil is resistant to going rancid is because it contains a lot of saturated fat. Saturated fat molecules have no double bonds in the molecule that can break apart from the action of ozone or UV, and it is the smaller fragments that give oil a bad taste and make it stink. The Wikipedia entry on Coconut oil has a table that gives the breakdown of saturated vs. unsaturated fat for a selection of commonly used oils and you can see that coconut oil is the most saturated. Which is also why you should avoid it in your diet.

Using vegetable oil in chain saws is no different than using vegetable oils in place of diesel fuel in a diesel engine. The only practical difference between petroleum based fuels and bio-diesel is in the physical property of viscosity. The chemical difference is that petroleum based fuels are all hydrocarbon and do not have the fatty acid end on them that the bio-fuel products do. This fatty acid end (the carboxylic acid COOH group) makes for more inter-molecular attractions and gives them a higher melting point/ higher viscosity.

And yes, you've found me out, I was a research chemist before I retired.
 
Marcus Hoff
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Thanks,
I'll have a look around to see what I can find, otherwise I might make a little trip to Portugal
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Dawn and Marcus, et al,

Sorry it has been a few days got rather busy. I am only going to post here as your other post is related to this one, and the information I will share is germane to both. It has really been fun helping you folks out as it brings me memories I have not thought of in years. The Iberian peninsula is a wonderful place to be and think about.

I have always been fascinated with the stone, earth and timber frame architecture of this region, in particularly the vernacular forms of Cortijo (farm house-barn) architecture which is common throughout. I especially like the Asturias vernacular architecture, notably the Hórreo (Granary). This entire region has suffered the same fate as else where after the last world war, and that is the loss of "traditional knowledge" in all it's forms, including vintage architectural practices of the countryside, village and farm.

In Denmark Borax is on the list of "unwanted substances"
Dawn this is probably more political than practical as many things are subject to views that are based in "pseudoscience" and fear mongering by multiple sources depending on the industrial or political agenda. Its not worth getting into all of that. You do what feels safe for you. I can share the as I write this short entry, my "shaker jar" of borax is sitting in the shop, and I freely handle the material all the time as I did last night while tanning a deer hide.

It is not illegal to sell in the EU - but it is illegal to market as a biocide.
I am not sure that is entirely the case either as Tim-bor (http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Tim-Bor%20Insecticide ) is distributed through out the EU and is based in this chemestry. I would share again that the challenges Borates face in the EU are probably political in nature for whatever reason.

Before I forget...John E. thanks for the info, and so I don't cause a major problem for someone in reference to "canola" oil and chainsaws, I should stress that I do not mix it in the gas but use it as a lubricant for the bar instead of a petroleum product.

Marcus I will keep looking for resources for you, if you find any new ones yourself, let us know. I use "Land Ark" wood finishes almost exclusively from my friends at (http://www.heritagenaturalfinishes.com/). These are traditional blends of oil and wax. I am not sure if it would be cost effective to have it shipped there, but I have asked Autumn (owner) about the prospects. Another option for you is (http://pinetarworld.com/) we do use there products from time to time and pine tar (not coal tar) is very good and has over a thousand years of applicaiton proof to support it.

If you take note of the roof system that Burra's photo depicts, you will see what the vernacular has come to for cottage architecture. It may look undersized, (and it is in many ways) but stronger than it appears. I will note, and I do not mean to sound elitist, but this style of roof system found in many areas, not just the Iberian peninsula, is "peasant" style and very minimal for the work it is asked to do. The other issue is it was originally designed for "thatching" not tile. It will hold tile but is at its outer reaches of load bearing capacity for such a shallow pitch. In Southern Spain's more tectonically active region, these roofs are under extreme duress. Because of the loss of traditional skills (and the push by the construction industry) many are turning to unskilled labor and concrete which is a horrible combination no matter how you look at it. Concrete is really, in general, a poor material compared to traditional modalities. If anyone there is willing to follow directions and secure the materials I can facilitate them building a more robust and secure traditional roof system, but it will cost you time to do it and probably additional funds. I do have two architects that I correspond with there and we discuss the need for traditional skills to return to their former glory, as so many modern and "reinterpreted" traditional structures are inadequate.

I could ramble on about Andalucia, Mozarabic, and Manchego styles of architecture and others there that are so wonderful. There is just so much to appreciate about the rich heritage of your region, and it's folk culture.


Regards,

jay


 
Burra Maluca
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Jay - when we replaced our roof we used a quite different system, using larger square-section beams made of Douglas Fir. I was assured by the owner of the wood mill that this would last not only my life-time, but all my son's life-time, and his sons' life time. I'd like to believe that! But I'd also like to hear your opinion.

 
Dawn Hoff
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Thank you so much for your time Jay.

Right now our primary purpose is to finish half the house with workers hired to do the job, and get as many sustainable solutions incorporated into their work as possible in a short amount of time. When they have done half the house, we will move in and do the rest of the work ourselves. We need to get out of here - both because we waste €750 every month and because it is horribly built and so so cold and damp in the winter (we get sick as soon as the rain starts...).

We just went over our energy use the last year and half our electric bill is the pump that pumps the heat from the gas heater on the roof down to our living room - even though we only use heat in the morning and the evening, and only the living room (the rest of the house is freezing - I can the how much more we used when my mom was here for two weeks over Easter, because she was freezing all the time).

The loss of knowledge is so obvious when you look at the land - our neighbor is 85 years old and born in the house we are renovating - he told me that when he was a child they employed 90 women every fall just to shell the almonds, they used to have a cow and a few pigs, plus the goats, olives, almonds and fruit trees - now they can't even feed the goats, but drive in extra feed for them several times a week (and take them off the land for the winter, where they will feed them in the granja). They have run that land down... We will try to restore it. The same probably goes for the house. It has been there for 200 years, but probably not the roof.

But we would love to learn more about the old building methods for when we go forward with the rest of the house (not always being three days behind). And also we will be making casitas to rent or to use for permaculture courses, so we could even do a workshop on traditional Spanish building.
 
Dawn Hoff
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What I meant with that long story was that we'd love to get in contact with your friend even if we don't have time to implement much of it right now.
 
Marcus Hoff
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Thanks for all your time Jay.
It is indeed a wonderful place to live. The beams we are putting in are glued wood (that's probably not the correct name in English). They are made of pieces of leftover wood glued together to a beam - like the ones they use in sports arenas. This was the best compromise we could make, between resource use and economy. Wood is not a local resource here, so it's very expensive. As far as I can tell they should be quite strong and just as durable as beams made of a single piece of wood.

The place I found in Germany, that sells Tung oil at reasonable prices is:
www.maolon.de

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Dawn and Marcus,

Dawn I would be glad to get you my contacts names, but I am not sure they would be much help as they reached out to me for guidance on vernacular folk styles of the Iberian region. One is a young fellow and the other I have not heard from for a while. I do have other contacts, but again it may be more cost effective for you and Marcus to take one of the young local folks and groom them to build to your own specifications as it would seem Burra has done. I will gladly give assistance where ever I am able.

The one item I do notice in much of my research of your area is the lack of insulation upgrading when these vintage homes are repurposed for contemporary living. Masonry walls are very charming but they can draw energy out of a room during cooler months and do not even have the same thermal qualities of cob, which in turn does not have that of wood. I would need to really delve deep into your project to be of any other assistance with you home, such as size, location, design, what your limitations are in the work you are having done compared to what you can achieve yourself, etc. Feel free to contact me offline, and I will present the educational components of our discussion here for others to learn from, should you choose further (deeper) assistance. I understand the issue with time and budget, and is part of the reason I do what I can where I can, especially on site like "Permies."

Marcus your English is excellent, (what is your first language?) The technical expression in English would be "glue-lam beam" or "laminar beam construction." This may not be traditional, but if you employed the correct adhesives they should serve you well.

Regards,

jay
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Oi Burra,

Isso parece magnífico ...


It looks as though some components are made of an Oak species?

Did you do the design work and joinery (timber framing) yourself?

Where did you get that large a timber in Douglas Fir, it must have cost a fortune, or was it a local variation of Fir?

In general from just assessing the photos, you have a much more robust frame now than the original. The rafters present as possibly not meeting PE specification for the load applied, but that has more to do with deflection and distress loading during tectonic activity that not being strong enough. I dare say that this structure will endure for many generations.


Regards,

jay


 
brian davis
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i have used .used motor oil on timbers i cut down ...cut your timber. let it dry, paint it with used motor oil...liberally...
it can be burried in the ground and will not rot...very cheap metoid for a barn
 
Dawn Hoff
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Thank you Brian - I'll certainly keep it in mind when we build outbuildings and such.
 
brian davis
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strange question for the Hoffs, my uncle was in malaga spain,,lived there for a few years, ,cant be to many americans around. he lived in england for years,
douglas white...he left about 6 years ago, he retired to san antonio texas..
 
Dawn Hoff
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Hi Brian.
We don't know very many foreigners and only arrived 2 years ago. So no we don't know your uncle (the expat community is very big down here, so even if we did mix in it 6 years ago, we might not have met him)
 
Leila Rich
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brian davis wrote:i have used .used motor oil on timbers

Be aware that there's concerns about used motor oil toxicity.
here's a thread where people discuss it.
 
John Elliott
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Leila Rich wrote:
brian davis wrote:i have used .used motor oil on timbers

Be aware that there's concerns about used motor oil toxicity.
here's a thread where people discuss it.


I don't doubt that it works. I also don't doubt that it is toxic. Used motor oil is basically creosote, creosote being a catchall term for very, very heavy hydrocarbons. Creosote is the dregs left over after all the light stuff is refined out. It also forms in engine oil when the high temperatures cause some of it to polymerize -- that's why used motor oil and the gunk on the outside of your engine is black.

It's toxic because polyaromatic rings are not broken down by plant or animal metabolism. But floating around in an organism, they can intercalate in the DNA quite well and cause cells to mutate, meaning that they are carcinogens. What will break them down is fungi (hijacking this topic to one of my favorite subjects). Polyaromatic rings will be broken down by fungal enzymes, it just takes a long time. We talked about this in another thread where people were concerned about old railroad ties, and I pointed out that if the railroad tie is rotting, then the creosote has been broken down by fungal action.

I'm going to withhold judgment on a new method of creosoting timbers, to each his own. Just realize what you are doing, where it is appropriate, the hazards of it, and how to get rid of it.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Sorry Brian D.,

used motor oil on timbers
DO NOT USE THIS METHOD...

This has become a practice in some areas and besides being toxic to the environment (it is illegal in some states) it is by far the least effective as it is a surface treatment only. The traditional methods I have mentioned are more that applicable and have the test of time behind them.
 
Petya Doneva
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John Elliott wrote:
To get a lot of UV protection you want to get some aromatic rings into the mix. Natural plant pigments are a good source of such aromatics as is lignin. If you boil your own linseed oil, throw some flower petals or brown oak leaves into the mix and you can extract some aromatic compounds from them that will markedly increase the UV protection. Of course, you're going to end up with a much darker oil and a darker finish to your wood.



Is it the aroma compound or the colouring that increases the UV protection?
For example if one add a rose/levender oil into the mix will it result in higher UV protection?
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