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I am having a hard time trying to finish a pair of black walnut handles. Seems that no matter how many layers of oil I put on, those damned pores just won't fill up. How do I achieve a smooth finish on such porous wood? Should I sand the oil off and repeat?

I was sanded to 600 and buffed to a very smooth finish but that darned wood seems full of hole.

IMG_20190321_212237.jpg

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14 minutes ago, Joël Mercier said:

I am having a hard time trying to finish a pair of black walnut handles. Seems that no matter how many layers of oil I put on, those damned pores just won't fill up. How do I achieve a smooth finish on such porous wood? Should I sand the oil off and repeat?

I was sanded to 600 and buffed to a very smooth finish but that darned wood seems full of hole.

IMG_20190321_212237.jpg

Rather than using an oil finish try going to a hard finish like a wipe-on polyurethane.  It will fill the open pores.

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4 minutes ago, Gary Mulkey said:

Rather than using an oil finish try going to a hard finish like a wipe-on polyurethane.  It will fill the open pores

For some reason, it never crossed my mind. Do you have a particular product in mind? 

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59 minutes ago, JASON VOLKERT said:

Are you wet sanding in between coats of oil?

Jason has the answer you need to fix the problem of open pores.Filling them with fine wet sanding dust levels them with the surface where filling them with polyurethane still leaves them visible. This is what rifle stockmakers have done to get the perfectly smooth, filled surface they have always got on the wood.

Edited by Garry Keown
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Birch wood Casey Tru-Oil would be my choice for walnut, rub on a light coat let dry and then rub down with 0000 steel wool

repeat till you like it, then rub on a very thin finish coat and let dry .....................My $.002

Edited by Clifford Brewer
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This is a mix of boiled linseed oil and TruOil. Perhaps I should try straight TruOil like Clifford says. I usually mix it to improve penetration. 

As for wet sanding, do you guys use plain linseed oil? 

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The only oil I have used is Danish oil and Tung oil.  

Next time I do a handle like this I'm going to try tru oil.

I always hear so many talk badly about linseed oil. I will try it sooner or later to see for myself though. 

Edited by JASON VOLKERT
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Boiled linseed is great, it just takes more time and labor than the other oils.  Properly done it looks great.  

And Joel, yes.  If you hadn't already oiled it I'd say to wet sand with water, then raise the grain and sand again.  Since it's oiled, oil it is from the start.

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You folks realize that Danish oil and TruOil are both about 15% linseed oil or modified soy oil and the rest are thinners and solvents, with the Danish oil being a very thin varnish. The same holds true for any Tung oil finish, unless it says "Pure Tung Oil", then it's a blend of a little tung oil, with the rest being probably modified soy oil.  They're what some people call a "Wiping Oil". The thinness of them, is why they go on so easy, but you'll need to do a lot of applications to fill any grains. Also as Alan wrote, some woods need to be sanded between applications

Here's TruOil's MSDS https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiV19nQ6JrhAhVVoFsKHVkNBaAQFjAAegQIABAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.birchwoodcasey.com%2Ffiles%2Fdatasheets%2F23145-Tru-Oil-Aerosol-Finish-2012.pdf&usg=AOvVaw1E5F_matW4-ddtpZPzvdHV

 

 

 

Edited by Gerald Boggs
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Ive used polyurethane on black walnut with very good results.  I apply it a thin coat at a time and lightly sand in between with 600 grit paper.  Because i want to fill in the pores but not build up a thick layer of finish, I'll usually sand until i start to see the wood come through and then reapply.  The first half dozen coats make you question yourself due to lack of visible progress, but usually after 8-10 coats you can see the pores fill in.  The last coat goes on a bit heavier, gets smoothed out with 1000 grit, and then lightly buffed.  It takes some time and effort, but with some patience (which I know you have) you can get that perfectly smooth shiny finish.

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4 hours ago, Gerald Boggs said:

You folks realize that Danish oil and TruOil are both about 15% linseed oil or modified soy oil and the rest are thinners and solvents, with the Danish oil having some varnish. The same holds true for any Tung oil finish, unless it says "Pure Tung Oil", then it's a blend of a little tung oil, with the rest being probably modified soy oil.  They're what some people call a "Wiping Oil". The thinness of them, is why they go on so easy, but you'll need to do a lot of applications to fill any grains. Also as Alan wrote, some woods need to be sanded between applications

I was gonna let them figure that out for themselves. ;)

Alex's method works extremely well with Tru-oil on walnut.  Tru-oil dries a bit thicker and more plasticky than most, and really fills the pores well.  

And finally, thinning drying oils like those mentioned above to increase penetration doesn't really work unless you're using vacuum and pressure cycles.  Thinning it just makes your life harder because you have to put on more coats, plus you get to pay more for the privilege of letting solvents evaporate from the surface.  This doesn't necessarily hold true with end grain wood, which does soak up thinner oils to an extent.  But not nearly as far as you might think.  The old standard 50/50 mix of boiled linseed oil and turpentine only penetrates maple about 0.020" at a maximum.  A bit deeper on walnut due to the pores.  If pressurized you can get full penetration, which is how they did military rifle stocks back in the day.  Although based on the funky smell of some of the Enfield wood I've cut over the years I suspect the Brits were adding creosote or something vile and petroleum-based to the blend.

Don't believe me?  Finish a few slabs of wood with various degrees of thinned linseed or tung oil, allow to cure fully, say three weeks, then cut them in half.  Get your microscope ready to look for the depth of penetration.

Very thin non-drying petroleum oils like sewing machine oil will penetrate all the way through, and will prevent rot and shrinkage, which is why I use it on my hammer handles.  

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14 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

sewing machine oil

You mean Mineral oil :-)

I'm writing out what I know about oils, or rather what I think I know and what I've been told.  Should have it posted later today. 

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2 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Although based on the funky smell of some of the Enfield wood I've cut over the years I suspect the Brits were adding creosote or something vile and petroleum-based to the blend.

I've done some internet reading and there's a number of woodworkers out there that like to add a bit of pine tar or asphalt to their finishes.

Edited by Gerald Boggs
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2 hours ago, Gerald Boggs said:

Did you read the MSDS for TruOil.   

I did. I am guessing the added stuff is mainly to accelerate polymerization, not just solvents? 

Screenshot_20190324-175354.png

Edited by Joël Mercier
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Hi Joel

The only way I use black walnut is to stabilize it first with cactus juice.  Without stabilizing I have run into the same thing that you see...very porous material.

 

 

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I used to laugh at my dad who was a passionate varnish user and used to explain that varnish was the best thing since sliced bread.  Then I would laugh a little when I realized that piratically all oil based substances are in one way or another a variation of boiled linseed oil.  (accept those that are petroleum based which I believe rust-o-ilium paint is petroleum based or acetone based.)

 

Anywho, black walnut is just in general an open grain hard wood. How may coats of 'oil' have to put on the piece as far? I normally brush on my first few layers to that I can get as much finishing oil on the wood as possible without it making a bubble. After a sheen has begun to start, I then wipe on the finishing oil. If you continue to brush there will be a bubble and it's a pain to remove it.  Depending on the wood it will take a lot of coats before you get that nice glassy finish.

Have you looked into using a sanding sealer? 

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Anyone ever thin some fiberglass resin with acetone? Maybe a coat or 3 sanding between.

I would need to use resin with wax so it doesnt dry sticky.

Only reason I ask I am making a bunch of filet knives....and have a bunch of walnut laying around.

Made one for the guy who gave me the wood. Just finished grinding one for the guy that gave me all the saw blades.

My bro wants to buy one....and gonna make myself one.

I would think the glass could be buffed once dry.......unless it builds too much heat

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