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Boiled linseed oil and MDF?

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Forum topic by Mobay posted 09-16-2018 01:47 PM 811 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mobay

14 posts in 89 days


09-16-2018 01:47 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mdf boiled linseed oil vinegar stain sealer stain carved finishing carving arts and crafts rustic question

I cannot find an answer to this question on the net, so I’m asking the pros…
I carve, print releif, always in real wood, however I purchased a coffee table, sanded down to bare wood. The legs and sides are solid pine, but I didn’t find out that the inside part of the table, where I carve is a veneer both top and bottom.
Now I have probably 1/2 the project done and I’m trying to find a good seal that I may paint on, just to seal the mdf. I also want to try staining color (home made vinegar stain). Was going to mix a bit of boiled linseed oil with the stain.
My questions are;

1. MDF is like a bunch of fragments of saw dust powder glued and pressed together, carved out is like removing a layer of very chippy, fragile, powder paper. Wood swells in liquid… but never having to work in MDF, that I haven’t had the pleasure to work in until now… how do I seal it? Will linseed oil and the stain mixed together work on naked MDF to seal it? I need it to be completely sealed to add table top epoxy to it so the table is still usable. If anyone has used epoxy, you know you need a good seal or a million bubbles come forth that is almost impossible to keep up with the torch…

Can you stain MDF?

-- Mo~Bay


17 replies so far

View lumbering_on's profile

lumbering_on

574 posts in 691 days


#1 posted 09-16-2018 03:01 PM

Sorry about your luck with the table – MDF is not exactly finish friendly. You can stain it, but it doesn’t have a grain, so you have to create one yourself. I’ve seen some people do it, but I’m not sure it would look good on a large surface. Veneer is your best bet, but paint is also an good option. I’ve put up a lot of trim made from MDF and it looks good when finished.

The key is to make sure it is well primed. There are a few excellent primers that fit the bill such as Clawlock and they work well for edges as well. I would also suggest using a spay gun as you want an even finish.

Best of luck.

View LesB's profile

LesB

1863 posts in 3644 days


#2 posted 09-16-2018 04:48 PM

I can’t think of any good way to deal with the MDF other than putting a veneer of real wood on top or for about the same price you could replace the whole top with a solid wood that you can carve.

If you are stuck with the MDF top I would put two or three coats of shellac (de-waxed) on to seal it. The de-waxed is important because the waxed versions may not accept top coats very well. You may need to sand lightly after the first coat if it roughens the surface by raising some of the wood particles. They you can proceed with what ever top coat you desire. Shellac has an alcohol solvent so it evaporates and drys very quickly so move fast and don’t do any more back brushing than necessary. (clean your brushes with household ammonia and water). You can apply the second coat in about an hour and successive coats in 1/2 hour. You can make you own shellac with de-waxed shellac flakes and methanol or ethanol to desolve them to the strength you want. A 2 pound could should so the job.

-- Les B, Oregon

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Mobay

14 posts in 89 days


#3 posted 09-16-2018 05:39 PM

Thanks for the advice. I was finally able to post my project (unfinished so you can see what I need to seal) in my workbench. Being new to this, I don’t know if you can see it, it won’t come up on this page.

-- Mo~Bay

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Mobay

14 posts in 89 days


#4 posted 09-16-2018 05:53 PM

Will modge podge work to seal?

-- Mo~Bay

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

1482 posts in 363 days


#5 posted 09-16-2018 06:03 PM

MoBay – this is one of those projects that requires much practice
on scrap material prior to applying to your “project of no return”.
you can purchase small pieces of MDF at your Box Stores for cheap.

-- I started out with nothing in life ~ and still have most of it left.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8519 posts in 2778 days


#6 posted 09-16-2018 06:08 PM

I’d practice on scrap with Bondo Wood Filler:

View lumbering_on's profile

lumbering_on

574 posts in 691 days


#7 posted 09-16-2018 06:23 PM


Thanks for the advice. I was finally able to post my project (unfinished so you can see what I need to seal) in my workbench. Being new to this, I don’t know if you can see it, it won’t come up on this page.
- Mobay

I take it those three photos are the table? That’s quite impressive carving.

My advice would be to a small panel of MDF from your local Home Depot, Lowes, or whatever is closest to you and do a quick carving on it to test it out. BOL will take a long time to cure on MDF, and from what I’ve heard, it will create a waxy surface. Test out another selection using Lee’s method. I’ve never used shellac on MDF, but what he says makes sense.

I’d also test out poly on a third section, this is something I have done once or twice. Step one is to sand with a normal painting grit – 180 should work. Step two prime with a good primer. Step three is to sand with a fine sand paper (220) and prime again. Then sand with 220 again and make sure all dust is completely removed. This should now allow you to add poly without it being absorbed. Let dry and add at least one more coat.

You can also test epoxy, which will bond to anything, so at least you know you will get a good finish off it.

View Mobay's profile

Mobay

14 posts in 89 days


#8 posted 09-17-2018 02:54 AM

Wonderful ideas, thank you all for some advice.

-- Mo~Bay

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

1482 posts in 363 days


#9 posted 09-17-2018 12:38 PM

Mo~Bay
I had a hard time viewing your photos of this project and finally
got to see them . . . WOW you are really into it !!
I’m posting your photos here for those that have not seen your artwork yet.
question: are you going for the clear finish or are you going to paint with opaque colors ??
I think you are talented enough to know that if you are only going to stain and clear finish,
you can not use a filler that does not accept stain and must blend somewhat into the natural elements.

I have carved MDF before but it has always been oil primed and painted (such as signs).
never have I just clear coated it and filled with epoxy. But I definitely understand your concerns
about the notorious and never ending bubbles.
looking forward to following your journey in this project.

.

-- I started out with nothing in life ~ and still have most of it left.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8519 posts in 2778 days


#10 posted 09-17-2018 02:26 PM

Amazing work Mobay!

View Snipes's profile

Snipes

196 posts in 2445 days


#11 posted 09-17-2018 02:33 PM

I don’t think the vinegar solution would be compatible with blo (not mixed together).
I’ve never epoxied mdf, but a lot of punky wood. I would think you could thin some down and use as a seal coat, then final coat after that.

-- if it is to be it is up to me

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

3171 posts in 1681 days


#12 posted 09-17-2018 02:37 PM

Amazing work.

I can tell you BLO will not seal MDF against water.

Not sure what to tell you to use without ruining the detail.

I would probably spray a couple seal coats of shellac and top with polyurethane.

Are you going to put a glass top on it?

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

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

2631 posts in 1588 days


#13 posted 09-17-2018 03:23 PM



Amazing work.

I can tell you BLO will not seal MDF against water.

Not sure what to tell you to use without ruining the detail.

I would probably spray a couple seal coats of shellac and top with polyurethane.

Are you going to put a glass top on it?

- rwe2156

+1 on Shellac and Poly. I would use oil based poly not the water based. Water causes MDF to swell and the shellac might not completely prevent a little penetration. And I would cover that with glass to protect it. I would also test any finishing regimen on another piece of MDF with some basic carving, but with at least a little fine detail, before you chance ruining all of your work.

It might be cool filled with a clear resin as well but I would be afraid that trapped bubbles would be a nightmare.

Amazing work by the way. Just be glad that it was MDF and not particleboard like most furniture is made with these days.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Mobay's profile

Mobay

14 posts in 89 days


#14 posted 09-18-2018 02:11 AM

Thank you all, I agree with possible combining an element to another, maybe Mineral spirits or acetone to shellac for a quicker dry time, however can I mix them? I just need to seal it to add the epoxy table top.
It was mentioned twice now to cover in glass… I never thought of doing this, I have always epoxied my tables I creat to allow use..to be honest, MDF I’s not a material that is “ good looking” left alone. My idea was to stain in colors… but, I noticed when my son spilled his soda on some of the table, it beaded up… carved part took a bit to suck up the soda. Uhgg. I think I may just have to buy pices at a big box store (as mentioned) and test it… I have a few types of sealants on hand. I suppose I’m down to experimenting.

-- Mo~Bay

View Mobay's profile

Mobay

14 posts in 89 days


#15 posted 09-18-2018 02:31 AM

Thanks John Smith. I’m sure that will help find an answer for sealing this.

-- Mo~Bay

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