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What finish should be applied for my first ever woodworking project - The Overhang Chair in Walnut

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Forum topic by LeOmkr posted 08-09-2017 03:14 PM 959 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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LeOmkr

6 posts in 131 days


08-09-2017 03:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: conoid chair conoid chair george nakashima finishing linseed oil shellac project walnut

Hello all,

I recently completed my first ever woodworking project. I am a student of Architecture and had signed up for a furniture design class at my university. Inspired by George Nakashima’s conoid chair, this chair was my own adaptation. This chair was made in a single slab of walnut ~4” thick. The formed seat is sanded to 400 grit. All the other parts are sanded to 320 grit.

I am trying to figure out what should I apply as a finish for this project. I have been suggested to use boiled linseed oil (tried & true) with at least three coats. I have been reading through a lot of forums and have found out that I could also use shellac and tung oil and what not. As I am a beginner, I am not very sure how I should go about this. I would really appreciate if you guys could share your advices with some wisdom about how many coats/ what finish comes before what and the effect.

P.s. I stay in Chicago, IL (sharing so that you have an idea about the weather that this chair will be in)

Thank you!

-- LeOmkr


7 replies so far

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2717 posts in 1321 days


#1 posted 08-09-2017 03:53 PM

BLO is an almost foolproof choice. It goes great with walnut.

I would not put this chair outdoors. If you do then you will be elevating the skill level in finishing as you will have to apply a weatherproof coating.

My advise is do some research and be very careful there are “exterior” varnishes that are not very “exterior”. I would consider a marine epoxy if going outdoors.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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TungOil

748 posts in 335 days


#2 posted 08-09-2017 10:57 PM

It partly depends on the look you want. Personally, I like walnut with an oil type finish (like the BLO recommended by rwe). Another option is Sam Maloof’s oil/poly finish which is easy to apply by wiping and a bit more durable. I think Rockler sells it. An oil finish is also true to how Nakashima’s furniture was (and still is) finished.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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LeOmkr

6 posts in 131 days


#3 posted 08-09-2017 11:16 PM

Thank you for all your suggestions. I couldn’t upload pictures of my project earlier, but here they are. Please take a look and let me know what you feel about the project.

-- LeOmkr

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LeOmkr

6 posts in 131 days


#4 posted 08-09-2017 11:17 PM

-- LeOmkr

View TungOil's profile

TungOil

748 posts in 335 days


#5 posted 08-10-2017 12:04 AM

Looks great and really carries the feel of the original. I would recommend you stick to an oil finish. Here’s how they do it at the Nakashima workshop:

http://www.nakashimawoodworker.com/custom/1

Incidentally, I live about 15 minutes from the workshop.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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LeOmkr

6 posts in 131 days


#6 posted 08-10-2017 12:15 AM



Looks great and really carries the feel of the original. I would recommend you stick to an oil finish. Here s how they do it at the Nakashima workshop:

http://www.nakashimawoodworker.com/custom/1

Incidentally, I live about 15 minutes from the workshop.

- TungOil

Hey TungOil,

I did refer to this back when I was still in the process of building the chair. Thank you for reminding me of this valuable resource again! I just went though it again and it says that they just use oil and allow it to penetrate in the wood. I was concerned that since this is a chair which will mostly be a show piece but occasionally will also be sat on, would it be recommended that I put on a top coat of something durable? I am not very sure about the durability of Linseed oil, but I assume since its just oil and not really a coating, there maybe chances of the surface getting occasional scratches. Do you recommend applying a top coat of something that hardens but does not create a glossy/ effect?

I may be wrong, but that’s what I felt when I was suggested to use the BLO.

Thanks!

-- LeOmkr

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TungOil

748 posts in 335 days


#7 posted 08-10-2017 12:31 AM

If it will see only occasional use, BLO or similar should be fine and its easy to apply. The BLO will polymerize when exposed to air, so it does offer some protection.

If you want something slightly more durable, the Sam Maloof finish is based on what he used on the many rockers he made. The next step up in durability, while still retaining a similar look ‘close to the wood’ look would be something like General Finishes Arm-R-Seal.

If this is your first time using any of these products, I highly recommend preparing some test pieces from your scraps- sand the the same finish as the chair then try out some finish options before you commit to the real piece!

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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