LumberJocks

alternatives to polyurethane over stain?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by lumberjoe posted 05-02-2012 12:29 PM 13873 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2893 posts in 1716 days


05-02-2012 12:29 PM

Recently I started using a home made “Danish oil” finish on a project and some test pieces and am really happy with the results. I am in the process of making a small entertainment center that will receive an oil based stain. Changing that is not an option as the customer (wife) has set the color requirements, and it actually looks nice. What I really like about the danish oil is it finishes in the wood, not on it. I’ve read that Danish oil type finishes can only be used on virgin or untreated surfaces, so applying over stain won’t work. I did test this on scrap and I see why. The oil never really makes it into the wood enough to finish. It kind of hangs out on top and gets tacky.

Is there a similar “in the wood” type finish that won’t produce the plastic look of brush-on or wipe-on poly that can be applied over stain?

Also of note, I don’t think mixing or tinting will work. The test piece my wife likes was done with two different stain colors applied at different times. Mixing the colors, no matter the concentration, did not produce the same results. This is getting applied to ambrosia Birdseye maple.

-- https://pinepointwoodworks.wordpress.com/


28 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2318 days


#1 posted 05-02-2012 12:54 PM

There are other finishes that could be considered but maple in general (I have no experience with ambrosia maple) is close grained, dense, hard, and really not very friendly to stain. Just about anything you put on it will, like polyurethane, sit on the surface.

I suggest you experiment with two finishes: First, use a satin poly. If you have a local paint store like Sherwin Williams, ask them if they can adjust the sheen for you They may be able to flatten it some more. Once your experiment piece has cured—a week maybe—see what you can do to rub it out and reduce the sheen even more. Wet sanding with 600 grit would be one thing I’d try. Another would be 0000 steel wool with some kind of lubricant like natural Watco.

Second is wax. Not as good a protectant as poly products, but it gives you much more tactile sense of the wood. Use a good quality paste like MinWax or Johnsons or Liberon—there’s even more to choose from.

Be patient in your testing and give your client/bunkie two or three to choose from so she can compare them.

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in 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 lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2893 posts in 1716 days


#2 posted 05-02-2012 01:21 PM

Thanks Lee, that helps. The crappy photo box I made is hard maple finished with Danish oil then renaissance wax. that stuff is FAR too expensive to finish this with, but I also have both minwax and Johnsons (I use the johnsons for my table saw). I absolutely love that finish and it is easily the best finish I have produced. Thanks for the tip on the satin poly. I have a woodcraft about 2 miles from me and they carry the General Finishes satin poly. I was going to give that a try. My concern is less about the sheen and more about the softness of the finish. Even with a satin poly I am concerned it will look like there is “plastic” over the wood.

I have a pretty good technique of rubbing out poly to soften it. I use 3M PerfectIT II 3000 grit buffing compound. I am trying to avoid poly all together (yes I know Danish oil contains more than a small amount of poly). Maybe I should just shut up, stop theorizing, and try it out :)

-- https://pinepointwoodworks.wordpress.com/

View tenontim's profile

tenontim

2131 posts in 3212 days


#3 posted 05-02-2012 01:28 PM

Joe, I use aniline water based dyes on all of my furniture. I think it gives me more control over the color I’m trying to achieve, on any kind of wood. I then follow with a homemade tung oil/varnish finish, that gives you the hand rubbed finish that you’re talking about. If you haven’t stained the entertainment center yet, you might want to get some dyes and find one that matches the color you’re after. I get mine from Highland woodwoking and WD Lockwood.

View a1Jim's profile (online now)

a1Jim

115207 posts in 3045 days


#4 posted 05-02-2012 01:51 PM

As far as top coats are concerned there are a number of alliteratives one is de-waxed shellac it comes in three different colors that adds a warmth to your pieces ,another is lacquer it is easy to apply ,both of these finishes can be purchased in rattle cans. Like lee said buying a satin finish helps take away that high gloss plastic look or you can do a light sanding or a glossy finish with a 800-1200 grit sand paper to make it look softer and less glossy. As far as staining closed cel woods try experimenting with some dyestain by General Finishes ,Yes it stays on top of the wood but to have a good finish does not mean it has to penetrate the wood to look good. If you want to learn a lot about finishing I recommend Charles Neil’s Finishing A-Z beyond the books ,it has 10 disc cram packed with tons of ways to finish.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2893 posts in 1716 days


#5 posted 05-02-2012 02:00 PM

I am still early in the build process. Thanks for the tip Tim. As some specific examples, this is the look I am going for (top coat, not color)

That is an off cut of hard maple I finished with Danish oil and only 1 coat of wax. Don’t mind the edges as this is a test piece. This is silky smooth to the touch, and has a soft, natural look.

This is an off cut of the ambrosia I am working with, sanded to 150 grit, with just one coat of danish oil. Its beautiful, but the wife think’s it’s “too busy” of a look. I’m sort of inclined to agree:

Here is the look we are going for. Long story short, my wife won a gift card to a paint and wall paper supply store. We don’t need paint and I hate wall paper. I also am not a fan of Minwax stains, but that is all we could find there worth getting. I picked up some stuff I thought was interesting. This is “aged oak” applied first and wiped off, followed by early american, then another aged oak. As I stated, mixing these colors did not produce the same results as applying independently: (yes this is blotchy, but this piece is fresh from the planer and completely unsanded)

I do think this color is mildly acceptable. It still brings out the blue in the ambrosia, and evens out the tone of the rest of the wood.

this is the unsanded gluded up top:

-- https://pinepointwoodworks.wordpress.com/

View a1Jim's profile (online now)

a1Jim

115207 posts in 3045 days


#6 posted 05-02-2012 02:13 PM

Joe if you use any oil finish it’s going to pop the colors . I really don’t know how to tell you to get the look of the third photo unless you leave it out side for a while and rub dirt on it. It’s not what most of my customers would want.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View AJLastra's profile

AJLastra

87 posts in 1696 days


#7 posted 05-02-2012 02:16 PM

Joe,

You were/are wise to test on scrap first. The suggestion made earlier about sealing with dewaxed shellac is a good one, especially if you want to warm up the color you already have on the wood due to prior staining. Are you spraying or brushing/wiping your top coats? If brushing/wiping, here is a suggestion that may give you that warm, close to the wood look and provide a durable finish as well. It takes a bit of work and you can’t rush this but the results are beautiful. Apply your shellac, thin dewaxed orange by 10% with denatured alcohol. Let it dry then scuff sand it with 400 grit paper to remove and dust nibs. Be careful because the shellac is very thin. Remove the sanding dust then apply two coats, brushed with a foam brush, of gloss Waterlox. you can scuff sand between coats. If you thin the Waterlox with 10% naptha it will dry faster. In any event, let it dry. It will take a day. It will also likely have dust nibs in it, etc which is why you sand between coats and after the second coat. Let the last coat of Waterlox cure for at least a week. then sand it first with 400 grit paper. you’ll see shiny spots after that. Take a maroon abrasive pad or a quality steel wool like Liberon and sand until the shiny spots are gone. Be careful around the edges. Now, if you wish, you can apply paste wax and buff. You’ll have a satin, close to the wood look and feel and if you sanded well, the surface will be smooth as silk. This finish takes some time, but its worth the work.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2893 posts in 1716 days


#8 posted 05-02-2012 02:24 PM

Jim, I’m not thrilled with it either. I prefer photo 2. The oil brought out a lot of the red lines in the grain that wasn’t present before I applied it. I love the way that looks. The boss prefers photo 3. She actually wanted me to stain it ebony. I told her I would rather make a bonfire than apply and ebony stain to this. Fully sanded and applied with care after using a controller, the stain on #3 looks much nicer than pictured. Now I just need to figure out a top coat that will give the appearance (not the color) of photos 1 and 2.

-- https://pinepointwoodworks.wordpress.com/

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

16244 posts in 3686 days


#9 posted 05-02-2012 02:34 PM

Joe, if you are able to achieve the color you want with stain, I would consider water-based polyurethane as a top coat. It is basically clear, without that warm yellowish tone you get with oil-based poly.

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

View a1Jim's profile (online now)

a1Jim

115207 posts in 3045 days


#10 posted 05-02-2012 02:50 PM

Joe
From the photo of #3 it looks like there is not finish or top coat. Another way to go is to try a couple coats of thinned Tongue oil ,not my first choice . Any finish that looks like #3 is not going to afford much protection. Maybe the boss can be convinced that it needs a little more finish (looking closer to #2) just because of the need for more protection for the wood??? It can be hard making customers happy but even more so when you live with them :))

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2893 posts in 1716 days


#11 posted 05-02-2012 03:05 PM

Jim, correct, no top coat on 3. I didn’t bother because this is really rough wood. A 50 grit sanding would be a massive improvement. That was a proof of concept for color alone. It is understood (even by the boss) that a top coat will need to be applied and may/will alter the final appearance/tone/color. I plan on sanding a bit, then cutting into 3rds and experimenting with some top coats based on suggestions. I am leaning toward your suggestion of de-waxed shellac, but will also try some lacquer.

I have never worked with shellac, is this similar to applying a french polish? That is something I have always wanted to experiment with.

-- https://pinepointwoodworks.wordpress.com/

View AJLastra's profile

AJLastra

87 posts in 1696 days


#12 posted 05-02-2012 03:16 PM

If you’re going to try shellac, make sure you have a good brush. the best form of shellac comes from flakes which you turn into liquid by mixing with denatured alcohol. Dissolving the flakes will take the better part of a day, typically over night. I know Zinseer sells shellac in a can but I never use that stuff…..not sure if its even dewaxed and you WANT dewaxed because it seals the surface of your project and protects your topcoat from being contaminated from other substances, like oils, grease, etc. Zinseer SealCoat is a great product to use as a sealer coat. Its mixed in a 2lb cut but it is a clear sealer and won’t add color to the wood. SealCoat, like flake-mixed shellac will dry quite fast and after shellac dries, it sands beautifully. Any brush marks, ridges, etc, will sand level. You will need to use a good china bristle brush. If you have a Sherwin Williams near you, the brushes they sell are nice. not exactly cheap, butif you care for it, the brush will last forever.

View a1Jim's profile (online now)

a1Jim

115207 posts in 3045 days


#13 posted 05-02-2012 03:17 PM

Joe
Shellac is extremely fast drying and a very easy finish to apply either by brushing or spraying. The thing to experiment with is what cut(how thin) you want it When you buy De-waxed shellac that is premixed it comes in a can that is usually 2lb cut. Many times you will want to thin it to 1lb cut for the first or second coat. you might do a google search on it for a better feel for it. Anther good thing about shellac is it can be used between coats of unlike material because everything will adhere to it. It is not as water proof as a poly but it’s better than just wax.

http://www.highlandwoodworking.com/sealcoatdewaxedshellacsealerquart.aspx

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2893 posts in 1716 days


#14 posted 05-02-2012 03:33 PM

I actually have some 2lb cut orange shellac and 100% pure ethanol I bought when I wanted to try my luck with a french polish technique I saw in one of my finishing books. I haven’t found an application to use it yet. My wife is an excellent painter and has a great assortment of brushes, some china bristle. Do I want to use a square tipped brush or a chisel tip?

-- https://pinepointwoodworks.wordpress.com/

View AJLastra's profile

AJLastra

87 posts in 1696 days


#15 posted 05-02-2012 04:00 PM

chisel tip brushes work quite well. Many of us who brush shellac use badger hair which has a chisel cut edge to it. There are some steps to make this work a little easier. Before you stick the brush in the shellac, condition the brush in the alcohol by dipping it about a third of the way up to the ferrule of the brush. Wipe off the excess alcohol with a paper towel. THEN dip the brush in the shellac. conditioning the brush makes it easier to clean and the shellac flows better off the conditioned brush. dont brush shellac like you are painting a house. start at one end of the project with aloaded brush and start your first bursh stroke about six inches in from the edge and brsuh TOWARD the edge. Then go bacvk to your start point and slowly but deliberately brush the finish in a continuous stroke toward the other end. Start the next stroke the same way. Over lap the brush strokes by about a third. DONT BE TEMPTED to brush out lap marks and ridges. Shellac dries very fats and overbrushing will make a mess. Be deliberate and keep the brush loaded with shellac but not so much that it runs and leaves visible ridges. You’ll know if you have too much on the brush. Keep in mind: as nice as this stuff is, you WILL have to level sand after it dries in order to get a smooth, even surface. But dried shellac sands great. Another thing about this stuff: like lacquer, it will “burn in” on sucessive coats. Meaning, you can reapply another coat after the under coat dries without sanding it and it will disssolve into itself. Sanding after a few medium thickness coats will make it much easier to avoid sanding through the shellac and into your stain coat.

showing 1 through 15 of 28 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com