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Questions about Soap Finish

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Forum topic by TheWoodenOyster posted 05-23-2018 05:03 PM 359 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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TheWoodenOyster

1317 posts in 2021 days


05-23-2018 05:03 PM

Topic tags/keywords: soap finish oak

Hey guys,

I have recently been interested in trying out the traditional Danish soap finish. I hear great things about it and have started on a few samples of my own.

The maple and ash samples are proceeding as expected – the finish looks and feels somewhat like a wax and preserves the natural color of the wood well, maybe even lightening it up a bit. Perfect – just what I was hoping for.

However – the white oak sample is not complying. I have seen many people reference using soap as a finish on white oak with good results. The samples I have done so far are definitely getting darker in color and not lighter. When I step back and think about it, this makes perfect sense as soap is basic and will react with the tannic acid just like ammonia does when people fume oak furniture to darken it. Unfortunately, I was hoping the soap would keep the white oak “whiter” and not darken it.

Do any of you have any experience with soap finish on white oak? If so, Have you experienced the same darkening effect?

Thanks

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster


4 replies so far

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Rich

3352 posts in 676 days


#1 posted 05-23-2018 05:43 PM

I don’t have any experience with soap finish to be able to answer your question directly, however in the April, 2014 issue of Popular Woodworking (#210) Bob Flexner did a write-up on it. According to him, you have to use soap flakes like these.

If you don’t have access to that issue, I’d be happy to create a PDF from the article for you. Just let me know.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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CharlesA

3334 posts in 1884 days


#2 posted 05-23-2018 05:47 PM

I used the Dri-Pak soap on white oak and there was no particular darkening reaction. Maybe just a tiny bit, but nothing in particular.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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TheWoodenOyster

1317 posts in 2021 days


#3 posted 05-23-2018 08:08 PM

CharlesA – when you rubbed on the soap, did the lather turn tan or brown at all? When I started applying it to the oak, it was white like regular soap. After about 3-4 minutes, the lather was a dark chocolate brown.

It’s not like it really darkened it a ton like fuming or staining, but it most definitely took it a shade darker instead of lighter.

I’m sort of confused how this hasn’t happened to other people since all soap is basic and should in theory react with the tannins to turn dark… bizarre.

Maybe I am being a little oversensitive to the shade of color, it was just a surprise when I expected it to get lighter.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

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CharlesA

3334 posts in 1884 days


#4 posted 05-24-2018 01:06 PM

I thought I’d answered. I can’t remember for sure, since it was a couple of years ago, but the soap didn’t lather at all. I thought it was thicker than that.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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