From all the feedback I got on my end grain finishing problem, Kaleo had the biggest word (oxidization) so I think he’s right. :^) However, I couldn’t bring myself to apply his solution, which was to sand the box down and then to put a finer grit on the end grain. Actually, my wife instantly vetoed any solution which involved removing the finish I already had on it. She loves the box, and isn’t concerned about the flaws.
But I had to do something. So here’s what I did. First, the before picture:
First, I swabbed on some mineral spirits with a q-tip and then “scrubbed” it with the other end. I don’t know how effective this was at removing the varnish. By the way, I also did this on the tail on the top.
Then I ripped some very narrow strips of sandpaper from 60 or 80 grit all the way up to 360. I numbered them so I wouldn’t screw up the order.
After sanding all the way up to 360, here’s what it looked like. You can see that the one above it, to which I had applied mineral spirits (but didn’t sand), doesn’t look considerably better, if at all.
Then, using the q-tip, I applied some straight BLO to the center one, the one above it, and also one test tail on the left middle (which hadn’t been sanded nor stripped with mineral spirits).
It turned out that all three tails looked the same. It didn’t matter whether it had been sanded, stripped or anything. So I promptly q-tipped BLO on all of the end grain. And here’s how it turned out:
All in all, I’m very pleased with the results. Sure, it’s not immaculate. But the color is much more uniform, and I think Amy will be very pleased. My last resort was going to be to use a black magic marker. Why not?
So now all that is left is to apply a single coat of BLO to the inside of the box. During my initial applications to the outside, I flooded it with my oil/varnish mixture to the extent that you can see it some on the inside. So a single coat of BLO on the inside should regulate the color of the wood. Should.
P.S. Amy does like the smell of BLO – I checked that before deciding what to do about the inside.
-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com