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Finishing Walnut, a first for me

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Forum topic by Rocket62 posted 01-29-2018 06:42 PM 821 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rocket62

5 posts in 350 days


01-29-2018 06:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut question finishing

I’m relatively new to woodworking/finishing and this is my first post … I have been reading up on walnut finishing for 4-5 weeks now and I think I have a good technique to use for my first walnut projects. I’ve started an entertainment center and I’ve completed a bath tub caddy for my wife (not yet finished). I’m going to finish the caddy first since it is much smaller and any mistakes I make will not be as costly as they would with the entertainment center. I’ve got 70 bdft of black walnut for these two projects and it was not inexpensive

I wanted to run this by you guys in hopes of getting affirmation of my technique and any tips/advice that may help in the effort. Most of the walnut I have to work with has that purple tint while I want a deep rich brown.

In a nutshell here is the finishing technique I’ve chosen … so far …

1) There are some knots in the walnut that I’ve got to address before sanding. I plan to use Timbermate Rustic Ebony filler on these first.

2) Sand with 80 grit to get rid of the deeper milling troughs then sand with 120, 180, 220 grit in that order. Follow by wet sanding with 300+ grit. Clean up with mineral spirits between sandings

3) Apply several coats of Boiled Linseed Oil, wiping dry 10 minutes after each application. I chose BLO to address the purple tint issue

4) Tests with the BLO have produced a non-glossy / matte finish. I’d like a more glossy finish so this step is to apply a coat of dewaxed shellac. Will this help to glossy it up some? Also, if I use an AMBER tinted shellac will it help with the purple tint issue?

Any advice, tips, corrections, etc … are welcome to me …

-- When I die I don't wanna go quietly in the night. I wanna slide in sideways kickin and screamin ... Life is good, soak it up while you can


21 replies so far

View Jon Hobbs's profile

Jon Hobbs

147 posts in 825 days


#1 posted 01-29-2018 06:46 PM

Hey Rocket,

I don’t think you want to wet-sand wood of any species. The purpose of sanding is to smooth the surface. Water will raise the grain making the surface rough. So you’re kind of working in opposition to yourself there. Wood reacts to water differently than other materials that are typically wet-sanded.

I’ve not worked much with walnut myself, but I’ve seen and heard tons of recommendations for Waterlox on walnut. that might be worth looking at.

-- Jon -- Just a Minnesota kid hanging out in Kansas

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Vindex

93 posts in 942 days


#2 posted 01-29-2018 07:50 PM

I recently finished a walnut table, and I tried ebony and walnut filler on knots in test pieces to see what looked better. I liked the walnut finish better, but it probably depends on how dark the knots look.

Also, if you want a smooth, glossy finish with walnut, you need to fill the wood grain (not just the knots) or your finish will become uneven as it cures (the finish will shrink more into the wood’s pores). I used Wunderfil (http://www.rockler.com/wunderfil-wood-filler-8-oz-colors). You can get a satin or matte finish without filling the pores, but not a gloss or semi-gloss finish.

Unfortunately, I don’t think BLO and shellac will give you the kind of protection you need for a bath tub caddy. I’m not sure what the best top coat is in this case, but you would probably want better water and alcohol resistance. I would think that a wiping varnish would be good here, but I am not very experienced in finishing, so I don’t want to give you a definitive recommendation for the topcoat.

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Rocket62

5 posts in 350 days


#3 posted 01-29-2018 08:12 PM

Thanks for the filler tip I will check into that. I’ve seen some ancient threads that dealt with that but nothing of recent date

I may get some brown or walnut Timbermate and do a test but the knots I’m working with are very dark

Great point on the tub caddy, I should have thought of that. Maybe shellac between BLO and a poly or varnish topcoat? I’ve read that shellac sticks to anything and is the universal ‘between coat’ ...

-- When I die I don't wanna go quietly in the night. I wanna slide in sideways kickin and screamin ... Life is good, soak it up while you can

View d38's profile

d38

104 posts in 382 days


#4 posted 01-29-2018 08:15 PM

Growing up, my Dad made several things from black walnut because my Grandpa procured a lot of farmstead walnut trees from the area. Free black walnut was great!
He stained with Minwax walnut stain it to bring out the grain pattern, then Watco Danish oil.
I’ve used Watco Finishing Wax to add some shine on oak, but Danish oil and Finishing Wax won’t fill the grain.
So I’d suggest a brown stain to reduce the purple effect, and use other’s inputs for top coat.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1835 posts in 2110 days


#5 posted 01-29-2018 08:16 PM

I typically use dyes to address color issues, be it the purple tint or lighter sapwood. Im not sure plain blo or a varnish will alone will get the color you want. For wipe on finishing, read this.

Depending on how the bath caddy will be used, a standard varnish may not work. If it is behind the shower curtain and the tub used for showers use marine varnish or better yet teak wood.

View bbasiaga's profile

bbasiaga

1240 posts in 2115 days


#6 posted 01-29-2018 08:18 PM

Wet sanding unfinished wood is not something I have heard of before. Maybe it works?

For water proof, I would do a couple coats of dewaxed shellac to seal off the grain, and then go with a gloss water based top coat or even a gloss poly over that.

But you will getting of ideas, and there are probably lots of ‘right” ways to do it.

I don’t think the shellac on top us a good idea. I think it will for up as it is definitely permeable.

Brian

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

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Vindex

93 posts in 942 days


#7 posted 01-29-2018 08:20 PM


Maybe shellac between BLO and a poly or varnish topcoat? I ve read that shellac sticks to anything and is the universal between coat ...

- Rocket62

That sounds right to me, but you probably want to get confirmation from some others.

On my kitchen table, I used danish oil (natural tint) to warm up the color, shellec, and then varnish. It worked for me.

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Vindex

93 posts in 942 days


#8 posted 01-29-2018 08:21 PM

edit: double post

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Rocket62

5 posts in 350 days


#9 posted 01-29-2018 08:26 PM

I got the bare wood wet sanding idea from a guy that makes guitars. I’ve tried it and it works wonderfully once you get to the 300+ grid paper

Gotcha on not using shellac on top. I’m thinking I will still use it for a ‘between coat’ so that I can put another kind of top coat on it. Maybe poly or varnish for the top?

I’ve did a comparison test last night on a scrap piece … Tung Oil vs BLO … It should be dry this evening but last night it appeared that BLO was going to be a really good choice for popping the grain. Not sure I want Tung Oil anyway since it takes forever to cure (I hear).

I also tried an experiment with BLO mixed with ebony stain. It did a good job of tempering the purple tint but it was blotchy … kind of like staining pine

-- When I die I don't wanna go quietly in the night. I wanna slide in sideways kickin and screamin ... Life is good, soak it up while you can

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Vindex

93 posts in 942 days


#10 posted 01-29-2018 08:28 PM

The tinted grain filler will also change the color of the wood. I found that the Walnut grain filler followed by Watco Natural Danish Oil did the trick for me.

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tomsteve

808 posts in 1339 days


#11 posted 01-29-2018 11:44 PM

would wet sadning with 300+ grit show a difference over stopping at 220?
i know going too fine can close the grain.
also never heard of wiping down with MS between grits. blow/brush off between grits?yes.

when i got into woodworking, i went crazy on the sanding part. then read a couple good articles that said im wasting my time- wasting it using every grit and going past 220. now i skip grit and stop at 220.

BLO is something that is to soak into the wood.

want to pop the grain?
BLO then 2-3 coats of varnish. KISS

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12340 posts in 2500 days


#12 posted 01-30-2018 12:25 AM

I’m guessing the wet Sanding, I assume with oil not water, is to fill the grain and make a smoother finish.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Rocket62's profile

Rocket62

5 posts in 350 days


#13 posted 01-30-2018 01:38 AM

The wet sanding is with water makes the grain stand up and lubricates the sanding

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQKgzNyonq8&t=142s&list=PL_3byXRLIgBVGEv6OoVU70K5aNyDulYUV&index=4

-- When I die I don't wanna go quietly in the night. I wanna slide in sideways kickin and screamin ... Life is good, soak it up while you can

View Don's profile

Don

5 posts in 1184 days


#14 posted 01-30-2018 03:58 AM

Assuming the knots have cavities I use dried coffee grounds and CA glue. Just fill the cavity with grounds and put the CA glue on top then spray with activator. Always test first.

-- Don in Murfreesboro, TN.

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12340 posts in 2500 days


#15 posted 01-30-2018 05:42 AM



The wet sanding is with water makes the grain stand up and lubricates the sanding

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQKgzNyonq8&t=142s&list=PL_3byXRLIgBVGEv6OoVU70K5aNyDulYUV&index=4
- Rocket62

Thanks for the link. I personally wouldn’t bother with raising the grain if not using a waterbase stain or finish but it won’t hurt anything. Shellac will raise the grain a little but I sand the first coat back to smooth anyway so it’s irrelevant. Oil and oil base varnish will not raise the grain so there isn’t any need to pre-raise it. Keep in mind, the finer you sand, the less stain it will absorb (not sure if you going ahead with the stain or not). The oil is just for looks so one wipe on coat is plenty, additional coats will only delay the finishing process.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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