We all have heard the saying “good things take time” and I am discovering how true that is while finishing my latest project.
Yesterday I spent the bulk of my time doing the final sanding and applying mineral oil to the many pieces for my calendar project. As you saw from yesterday’s post, there really were a lot of pieces and it was a slow process.
I actually made three sets of overlay pieces for the project. Two were of 1/8” maple and one was of 1/8” Baltic birch plywood. I was able to stack cut them, which did cut down on the time it took at the saw, but there was no way to get around taking some time the rest of the way.
I did three sets because the two maple sets will be heading out to the magazine for publication and I wanted a set to keep here for myself. I was rather curious as to how the Baltic birch would look with a mineral oil finish and I must say that I am quite pleased at the outcome.
It seemed that the mineral oil darkened the ply edged a bit, but not in an unpleasant way. The effect resembled laser cutting, with the edges being a bit darker than the lighter birch face of the wood. Overall I think it looked pretty nice.
Here is a piece of oiled maple:
And here is a piece of oiled Baltic birch:
You can see the ply edges are a bit darker, but I don’t think it looks bad at all.
As for the veining detail lines that were cut into the pieces, I liked the way they looked too. Even though I used a very small (2 reverse tooth) scroll saw blade, the oil accent the lines enough so that they really show up. So often, when putting veining details into pieces, it is necessary to use a very small blade and the resulting kerf lines are so small that they get ‘lost’ in the piece. I found that this wasn’t the case and I will be recommending mineral oil more often on projects in the future.
And here is a picture of the two pieces side by side. The maple is on the left and the Baltic birch piece on the right. I think they look pretty similar, don’t you?
I really like using just plain oil mineral oil. Besides the cheap cost and lack of odor, it really helps make my hands soft in the process of working with it. After all the sanding of these piece, my hands were quite dry, and using the oil seemed to re-hydrate them quite a bit. I didn’t mind the amount of time it took to work with these pieces at all.
For the oiling process, I used some styrofoam trays that I kept from when I purchased hamburger. The wide and shallow trays are ideal for this process and if you get them too messy, you just throw them out when you are done. I have a good 1” brush with some bristles that are a bit stiffer than normal (the white synthetic type) that is great for getting into the sides and crevices of the pieces. You don’t want it too stiff though, or you take the chance of breaking the delicate pieces.
I poured abut 1/4” of oil into the bottom of the tray, and then I dipped each piece and used the brush to work the oil into the corners and sides, if necessary. I then brushed the excess oil back onto the tray and set the pieces on several layers of paper towel to blot the excess. I then placed all the pieces on cookie drying racks that I got at the grocery store. This is a really nice one and only cost me about $6. I kept the pieces pretty wet, but not drippy. I let them all sit a couple of hours in order to allow the oil to soak in good.
Then, after a few hours, I took each piece and wiped off the excess oil with a paper towel. I cleaned off each rack too, so that there wouldn’t be any pools of oil. This again took some time and I needed to be careful not to break any of the delicate ones. I had about three or four layers of paper towels and used them as a pad. I set the pieces on them and kind of blotted them firmly but gently to remove the excess oil. I then returned them all to the racks to ‘dry’ overnight. They now look like this:
Although the oil never really fully “dries”, it does absorb quite deeply into the wood. At this point, it looks moist, but not wet at all. If I am going to keep the pieces their natural color, I am now ready to spray several coats of shellac over them to seal them.
Some of the pieces I plan to stain, using the DecoArt Staining and Antiquing medium and acrylic paint. I have found that since most of the oil has soaked in, it doesn’t interfere at all with this process. I simply mix the medium with the paint and brush a thin coat or coats (depending on how much color I want) over just the tops of the pieces. The veining lines are wonderful ‘dividers’ and help keep the paint where it should be. I also don’t go over the sides to paint the edges when I do this process. I don’t feel it is necessary and it is a lot more work with little improvement in my opinion. That is one of the reasons I oil the pieces that are to be stained, too. It gives a nice warm color to both the sides of the pieces and the back.
The stain works out beautifully, and since it is a gel type stain, I don’t find that it lifts or peels off once it is dry. Once it is sealed in, it is good to go. When it is dry, I just spray several coats of shellac or even polyurethane sealer. It looks beautiful and will last for years.
While I am not sure how this process will work on larger pieces such as furniture, it works fine on craft type projects like this. I did all of my recent projects with color like this and I haven’t had any problems. I think it is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to have excellent results.
The hardest part of doing things like this is waiting overnight for the oil to completely penetrate. You really don’t want to spray the shellac or do the staining while the pieces are ‘wet’ and oily to the touch. Waiting and leaving them overnight seems to be quite sufficient for allowing the stain to penetrate enough to move on.
So for today, I will be finishing and staining the pieces. Now they will really come to life. I wanted to share this process with you all because I think it is a wonderful alternative to expensive and smelly stains, and even if you HATE to paint, you can easily accomplish this.
I wish you all a wonderfully productive Saturday! Have fun and do something creative. Most of all, be happy! :D
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"