Questions about painting on wood, and finishing walnut.

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Forum topic by driftwoodhunter posted 02-10-2011 06:57 PM 3179 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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273 posts in 2685 days

02-10-2011 06:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut spar painting on wood blo

I have a few questions about a project I want to get started on. I bought two slabs of KD walnut that I want to make window benches out of. They will be exposed to direct sunlight often, summer temps, and humidity fluctuations. They’re really wide, (70” x 22”) and I know movement needs to be considered. I’m going to be using heavy driftwood for legs, no apron or skirt inbetween (rustic). That’s a pic of some of the driftwood in my trunk. I may be doing a small life sized bird oil painting on each slab in a corner – I haven’t decided yet. I did a test piece on a sample board, since I was in a hurry to experiment, I used what I had on hand – Varathane oil base premium alum. oxide floor finish in satin (which I love, btw). Here’s what I did on the sample; I didn’t want the oil paints to wick through the wood pores, so I wiped on two thin coats of the floor finish to seal the wood. When dry, I started to paint the cardinal. When that is dry, I’ll top it with spar. I want to see how it looks. The walnut has nice figure, and I’m confused if BLO is the best thing to use to bring it out, and can I top BLO with an oil based satin spar? I was going to use Cabot satin spar, as it is the only thing besides minwax that I can get. I read that spar is more flexible, and accomodates movement better, that’s why I chose it as the protective top coat. So, does satin spar on top of BLO work for wood exposed to light & humidity? I’m using satin because I personally hate a glossy surface. And on a personal note (not that it will influence me in the end – lol) do you think it’s tacky to paint on wood? Do you think it ruins the quality of the walnut – which is gorgeous! I hope to hear from some of you – I need to get started on this project if I’m going to have them ready for the sweet May spring! Thanks for any input!

4 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2849 days

#1 posted 02-10-2011 07:10 PM

Sure, I have an opinion! I was just looking at bluebirds at and then I see your cardinal. Wow.

You’re right that Spar is softer. A surface coating like that will save the walnut from some fading and will make dusting and cleaning easier. But redoing it will be more tedious than using an oil finish.

Watco makes an exterior oil product that is superb; there are others which may be just as good. BLO is fine but can be really fickle in its drying characteristics.

As for the bird or not? Only you can decide that!


-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View driftwoodhunter's profile


273 posts in 2685 days

#2 posted 02-10-2011 07:23 PM

Thanks, Lee, I’ll look into the Watco exterior product.

I’ve used their products before & always liked them. I hope the walnut won’t fade much, I’ll cry. I should have mentioned that the benches will be set back from the windows about 8 or 10 inches. I should also be frank and admit these are primarily cat benches, and they do barf on occasion! Gross, I know! So touch ups should be a consideration…They’re my first cats, what did I know! ; )
That’s one of the reasons they will be set back form the windows. The cats aren’t declawed, and I don’t want them to pick the screens – these are new windows. When the windows are closed, their built-in UV coating will help protect the wood. Non declawed cats (I have 2, thank God it’s only 2!) also helped me pick the rustic look driftwood legs. Claw sharpening won’t show. And I love rustic. Really.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4217 days

#3 posted 02-10-2011 07:50 PM

I think spar over BLO sounds like a good combination.

Your cardinal is beautiful. Do the cats react to a painting like that?

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View driftwoodhunter's profile


273 posts in 2685 days

#4 posted 02-10-2011 07:53 PM

LOL – yes, they’ll think it’s a barf target.
(thanks for the compliment)

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