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Spotting on Walnut after using Maloof style finish

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Forum topic by Himzzo posted 10-31-2015 07:29 PM 551 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Himzzo

12 posts in 1718 days


10-31-2015 07:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut question finishing

Hello all, Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I’ve come up against a perplexing problem with a recent piece of work that I completed. It is a walnut piece that was finished using a Maloof style 3 part varnish and then topcoated with Linseed Oil/Beeswax. The piece cured for over a month in my shop and looked beautiful. I delivered the piece and went back a week later to deliver something else and noticed the finish had spotting everywhere. My first hunch was that the humidity levels of this space felt quite different than the shop so maybe there was a reaction with the wax and it was weeping and clouding on the surface due to it being cooler and damper. My shop is generally always 65 and 40% humidity. The home is a modern space with lots of concrete and windows. It is generally kept at 65 temperature, I have not measured the relative humidity of the home yet, but I suspect due to the concrete and proximity to a large lake that it is probably much higher.

The breakdown… I put 3 coats of Linseed/Tung/Poly on the piece – it looked great. I then put 2 topcoats of Linseed/Beeswax – looked gorgeous and silky like always. It then cured for one month. Delivered the piece, everything still looked as it had. Returned after a week and saw spotting everywhere. Rubbed the entire thing down with steel wool and it looked beautiful again with a nice even sheen. Returned the following week and spotting had returned. It was much better, but still present. Used Naptha and steel wool for a next complete rub down and attempt at removing any wax that was possibly the cause. After rub the down it looked great again. Returned today and found more spotting. Each time it seems to get a bit better, but it’s still returning and isn’t acceptable.

Thoughts???? I’m really at a loss and don’t know where to head from here. This is a finish I use on all of my furniture of this nature and I’ve never had a problem. I didn’t try anything new, or use different brands. Everything was new or recently new as far as the products that were used.

Unfortunately I don’t have great images but I do have one image that I think sufficiently shows the uneven finish and spotting or streaking that is occurring.

Thanks again for any feedback and help on this. Much appreciated.


11 replies so far

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Aj2

692 posts in 1265 days


#1 posted 10-31-2015 09:07 PM

Was linseed oil and beeswax top coat the final step.Nothing on after it?Was that also Maloof finish.My fist guess was you didn’t rub out one of the coats enough.I have had problems with linseed oil in the past.It takes a long time for linseed oil to cure.And I’ve had it weep back out from the pores.That all I got.Good luck.

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Himzzo

12 posts in 1718 days


#2 posted 10-31-2015 09:24 PM

Aj2 – Thanks for the reply. Linseed/Beeswax was the final coat. I’ve done countless pieces with this process and never had trouble. The first three coats of the 3part blend went on over the course of a week. Then that cured for two weeks maybe even three. Then I put the two topcoats of linseed/beeswax over the course of a week and it then cured for a month before delivery. Finish was typical, all weeping had stopped. I know it still needed longer to fully cure, but it was cured to a degree where a hand or finger on the finish didn’t make it weep. This is the point at which I’m comfortable delivering a piece. So I did and then this all happened. Thanks for your feedback.

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Aj2

692 posts in 1265 days


#3 posted 11-01-2015 12:46 AM

I see I think you did everything you can to build the coats right.The one last thought was it air dried walnut?

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Himzzo

12 posts in 1718 days


#4 posted 11-01-2015 12:29 PM

Aj2 – yes generally all of my projects are built from wood that is air dried for several years and then kiln dried for a short period to bring down to the 8% range. This batch of walnut was air dried for 2 years and placed in my dehumidification kiln to finish it off. It then sat for several months and acclimated to the shop before it was used. It measured evenly throughout all of the material at time of work in the 8% range. This question has peeked my curiosity, could you elaborate on the air dried inquiry, in theory at least and/or how you think it relates to my handling of the wood? Again, I thank you for your thoughts. As I said initially, I’m at a loss and that’s why I reached out to the forum for help.

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Tennessee

2410 posts in 1981 days


#5 posted 11-01-2015 01:10 PM

I’m speculating here a bit, but to me, what is happening is one of two things – either the wood is re-acclimating to the higher humidity and would be pulling in moisture and changing the wood, or the finish is moving and re-layering due to a change in temperature/humidity.

Since it was stable in your shop, especially say, the last week before delivery, and it appears that the only thing that changed was the ambient air it now sits in, it would make sense that either the temperature of the air, the humidity in the air, or some other chemical element in the air of the owner is at fault and is changing the finish in a negative way. I am doubting the chemical element, since it is probably in a house where air is breathed all day long. I was thinking in terms of something like an automatic air freshener, but that is a huge stretch and I’ve never seen a household airborne element that would disturb any finish. Just had to mention it in case.

So…
Since it is getting better, I am going out on a limb and thinking that as you remove the beeswax, essentially your final polish, it is correcting itself and the other elements are stable. I would not think that the Linseed/Tung/Poly would be at fault, it should be fully cured. So something is making the beeswax “float” on top of the finish. Since beeswax floats in water, it would almost have to be some kind of moisture that is bringing it to the top.

As far as the air dried question, air drying does not stabilize pitch pockets very well, but does allow wood to dry to workable levels. Since we all know that vintage craftspeople did not have kilns, a proper air dry system should provide totally workable wood, and it seems like yours is, if anything, overkill to make sure your wood is stable.
Still, air dried wood, once you start working it, will try to re-stabilize to the environment, the 10-15% range. Kiln dried wood really has only about two possible benefits that I am aware of – it stabilizes pitch pockets, and will keep moisture down for the first couple weeks after the process.

Now, the last thing I would ask is this: Are the unseen portions of the piece carrying the same finish as the visible portions? It could be, if you have placed it in an environment of say, 55-60% humidity, the portions not carrying all the layers of finish described could be absorbing moisture. Since we also know that almost any traditional finish only stops about 50-55% of moisture, there might be a small possibility that the new moisture from the unseen portions is migrating through the wood then the finish, and making the wax spot to the top. As you remove the wax with your re-polishing, you are slowly correcting the finish.

I would highly recommend you try to discover the real humidity of the location where your piece finished up. It is not unusual for people to keep their houses at 55-60%, even higher if they live near water. When I lived in Norfolk, Virginia, I can remember our bath towels not drying out day to day during certain parts of the year, and we would have to change them out daily.

When I ran my refinishing business, I cannot even remember how many chairs I reglued towards the end of winters, after low humidity periods. (I lived in the NE of the United States, and we had long, dry winters.)
Once the spring rains came, we rarely saw a chair for repair unless someone wanted it refinished.

And that is about all I have…Sorry

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

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Himzzo

12 posts in 1718 days


#6 posted 11-01-2015 02:12 PM

Tennesse Paul, Yes, this week I plan on bringing my humidity meter and seeing where those numbers are at, but I’m pretty sure they are at least in that 50-60% range based on how the space feels. Unfortunately its a drive from my shop and it’s something I keep kicking myself for forgetting when I return to the home.

Yes, the unseen portions are carrying the same amount of finish, the wax surfacing (spotting) has happened pretty much everywhere, so there is currently no discernible correlation to where it is appearing that I can share.

I think you’ve basically laid out, in a much clearer and precise fashion, what my thoughts have been and what I’ve shared with my clients from the beginning about what’s happening. I work by myself so I just wanted to reach out and seek counsel with others to confirm or listen to new ideas as to what seems like the most logical explanation for what is occurring. Thanks for your thoughts and any future things that pop into mind. I’m heading back today to check it out. I’ll be able to get my meter tomorrow and return later this week to the site and check those numbers. I will update this thread as my experience continues.

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Tennessee

2410 posts in 1981 days


#7 posted 11-01-2015 07:42 PM

It will be interesting to see how it all pans out. When I refinished, I always ended the process with 0000 Steel wool followed by a layer of carnuba, not beeswax. Then a terry cloth polishing action. Seemed like it held up much better and was more resistant to water issues. I would put it on all my poly style finishes, but not on lacquer.

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

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Himzzo

12 posts in 1718 days


#8 posted 11-01-2015 08:36 PM

Paul, It will definitely be interesting. I went today and it looked great, but it seems to take at least 3-4 days to appear. I’m just hoping the cumulative work buffing with steel wool will start to pay dividends soon. Out of curiousity how did you apply the carnuba wax? What method did you use, dissolved in oil or a solvent? I’ve never solely used carnuba, I do use it in a woodconditioner that I make, but that’s a combo of many different waxes and oils.

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Aj2

692 posts in 1265 days


#9 posted 11-01-2015 08:43 PM

I think the oil and beeswax treatment is the last step in a Maloof finish he used on his Rocking chairs.Next time I see David.I will ask about the spotting if they had that problem.I do sorta remember hearing that the last coat needs a hard rubbing. I’m leaning toward some environmental changes that caused your problem.Sounds like your pretty meticulous in your work.Hope I didn’t come across sounding like I was questioning your ways.Hope you get it Figuerd out.

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Himzzo

12 posts in 1718 days


#10 posted 11-01-2015 09:03 PM

Aj2 – as far as I know it was the final treatment in the Maloof finish. I’d love to hear back if you have the chance to ask David. I failed to mention but I did do a steel wool rub out before delivery. I’d say I’m fairly meticulous, yes, but we all make mistakes and we learn from them. This didn’t have any real identifiers as a mistake, more an environmental occurrence, but I just wanted to see if anyone had any thoughts or could reaffirm my suspicions. So far it seems like you and Paul generally agree with those initial thoughts. And for the record, you didn’t sound like you were questioning me in a judgmental or critical way, just a healthy dialogue that I greatly appreciate you engaging in.

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Tennessee

2410 posts in 1981 days


#11 posted 11-02-2015 12:30 AM

Himzzo:
You probably won’t believe this, but we lightly heated it until it was a thin paste, just a bit thinner than toothpaste, and we didn’t add it to anything or cut it with anything.

Coated a section at a time, making sure the wax did not completely set up. Wiped aggressively with terry towels until a semi gloss sheen was apparent. The beauty of it was it held up to household spray waxes like Pledge, and was fairly waterproof. I used to put a drop or two of water on a finish when we delivered a piece, and it would of course bead up. I would tell them as long as they kept it coated, say once every few months, it would help the finish. Never had a complaint in 12 years of refinishing, and that included 3 grand pianos, very expensive antique pieces, and I lost count of how many old style ice boxes we did. At one time, we were working with nine different antique dealers.
We could tell them that products like Johnsons and Butchers would be acceptable, preferable over the sprays and oils, which a lot of people didn’t understand anyway. I had the shop open from 1976 until 1988.

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

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