LumberJocks

Finishing Brazilian Hardwood with Teak Oil not going well..... Please help.

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by Cleveland222 posted 07-30-2012 08:07 PM 5656 views 1 time favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Cleveland222's profile

Cleveland222

10 posts in 849 days


07-30-2012 08:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: hard-wood teak brazilian hardwood teak oil watco watco teak oil desk desktop

Hello all.

I am in the finishing stages of two desk-tops that I made from old decking. The decking came from a commercial property and was referred to as simply “Brazilian Hardwood.” I had heard it called something more specific once, but it was a very long word I don’t recall.

The desk tops will be reversible. I’m leaving the grey, weathered, beat-up finish on one side and I am finishing the other. The side that I’m finishing I have planed, sanded and tried to finish with Watco Teak Oil. The problem I’m having is that I don’t seem to be making much progress because every couple coats I’m finding a lot of bumps / imperfections / air-bubbles in the finish and am having to sand them down before going further. I have easily 12-15 coats down and there just doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

My process has been to apply the teak oil using a brush, let it soak in and wipe off after 15 or so minutes. Then I let it dry for a couple days before coming back with another coat or a light sand.

I have absolutely ZERO experience with wood working and have no idea what I am doing wrong. Any and all advice would be Greatly appreciated!

Here are some pictures of the project:

Wet:

The weathered / un-finished side:

And the finish so far:



Thank you in advance for any advice ya’ll can offer.

-Andrew-

-- @Cleveland222


30 replies so far

View Doss's profile

Doss

779 posts in 987 days


#1 posted 07-30-2012 09:06 PM

Andrew, what are you trying to accomplish? You didn’t say why you keep adding coats. Are you trying to make it shiny? Dull? Different color? More explanation please. Also, tell us more about the environment you are applying this in. Is it hot? Humid? Cold? Dry?

I will say it seems like you have put a lot of “teak oil” on it. Also, if these are inside desks, I would say you probably didn’t need to put “teak oil” on them. Regardless, let’s work from here.

If you’re trying to get a gloss or semi-gloss finish, I’d wipe on some wipe-on polyurethane and call it a day. That is, of course, after letting the “teak oil” properly cure.

From the sounds of it, and I’m no expert on finishes, you’re going to be waiting a while for those layers to cure. I think you’re supposed to only wait a small amount of time between recoats (depending on environment). Somewhere around 30 minutes to an hour. Some finishes you have to wait another week (maybe it’s paint I’m thinking of) before reapplying.

You should possibly also consider putting finish on the other side depending on the environment. Wood acts unpredictably sometimes with small changes in the environment (moisture content) and having two large sides finished differently may cause an issue. Not saying it will, but it could.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

2696 posts in 1074 days


#2 posted 07-30-2012 09:59 PM

When you are in a hole, rule #1 is to stop digging. You have an oil finish and putting on more coats will accomplish nothing as the wood has absorbed all it can take. If you want build a surface coat you are going to need to apply something different like spar varnish or poly. The oil finish looks good to me so I am not sure what more do you want?

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Cleveland222's profile

Cleveland222

10 posts in 849 days


#3 posted 07-30-2012 10:03 PM

Doss,

I’m sorry, I should have explained my intent. I am just looking for a uniform semi-gloss finish. I am glossy in some spots and still quite matte in others, which is why I’ve put on so many coats. I want the finish to look natural, yet finished, if that makes sense.

I’ve been working on this for the last couple of months and it’s been very hot and humid here. I was in a wood shop that was pretty dusty so I re-located to my garage, which isn’t any different as far as temperature, but is very clean, and dust free.

I am waiting so long between coats because it’s staying tacky for days, and every other coat is requiring a wet-sand, so I’ve been waiting for it to completely dry.

Also, I was advised to finish the other side, but that’s the side I prefer honestly, and don’t want to ruin the patina. I’d sand off the finished side before I did that. We’ll see how it acts over time, but first I just need to finish the thing so I can start working on the desk it-self.

-- @Cleveland222

View Cleveland222's profile

Cleveland222

10 posts in 849 days


#4 posted 07-30-2012 10:05 PM

bondo- I’m just trying to achieve uniformity. It’s hard to see in the pictures but the surface is very glossy in some spots, and very dull in others. I’m trying to achieve something right in the middle, but having no luck.

I’m not sure if I’m going about it with the wrong product, technique, or what…..

-- @Cleveland222

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2847 posts in 971 days


#5 posted 07-30-2012 10:24 PM

I use oil finishes a lot. Firstly, Watco “Teak oil” is generally an outdoor/marine finish. You would have been better off with Danish oil, boiled lindseed oil. tung oil, etc.

Also you put on about 10 to 13 more coats than you needed to. This isn’t really teak oil. It also has a varnish in it. For future reference,this is what you need to do. First sand really well. After that remove ALL the dust. Blow it off with compressed air and use a tack cloth to get it as dust free as possible.

FLOOD the surface with the oil. Don’t just brush it on, you want a nice puddle over the whole thing. You will see some areas will dry up, hit them again. Once the entire surface is wet, leave it alone for half an hour or so, but not much longer. After that, wet it down again. This time you don’t want puddles, but a slick surface. Again if any spots dry up, hit them again. Let that sit for 15 minutes, then wipe it dry with a clean rag (old t-shirts that have been washed a lot work great).
Here is the important part: Go check on it every few hours. Some of the varnish/oil will seep through the pores in the wood. Keep wiping it down until it stays dry.

After it is dry for at least 48 hours (I usually wait 5 full days), you can address the bubbles/nibs. It’s going to happen unless you have a clean room. A finish isn’t done until you buff it out. Get some 0000 steel wool and gently buff out the finish. You can also use a really fine sandpaper, I have good luck with 800 grit. Keep gently working at it until you have a smooth finish.

At this point I generally do something else to it for a little more protection. On something like a desk, I would absolutely apply a wiping polyurethane like general finishes arm-r-seal. That is going to be the same procedure. 2 or 3 coats,1 day between coats, light buffing/sanding in between. Once the final coat has cured (another 72 hours),I will buff out the final finish with some furniture paste wax applied with steel wool and rubbed out with lambswool.

It’s a very long process but I get excellent results.

At this point STOP oiling it. keep wiping it down until it is completely dry, then try to rub out the nibs with extra fine sandpaper before putting your finial finish on it.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Loren's profile

Loren

7809 posts in 2371 days


#6 posted 07-30-2012 10:39 PM

I’m not familar with the finish you are using so I’ll
comment on brushing varnishes in general.

Air bubbles should generally “pop-out” but you have to be
careful not to shake the finish can if you want to
minimize them. Stir the finish gently in the can with
a stick.

Then there’s a whole method of using a brush to
get the finish onto the work. I dip the brush (natural
bristle only) in thinner and this helps the finish flow
a bit. Generally I do not thin the finish, though I
clean and dry the brush periodically to start fresh.
You only want finish on the 1/3 at the end of the
brush. It gets sucked up further, but if you dip it
too much the brush swells at the base and messes
up the finish. This is why I sometimes clean and dry it
during a big job even if I don’t need to.

Don’t overbrush when you see bubbles. Just apply
the varnish and it will flow out on its own. Over-brushing
only does harm with varnishes though as you become
skilled it is a technique useful on base coats. The top
coat will always get messed by over-brushing in my
experience.

The real secret to perfect finishes: there are two
secrets actually. The first is perfect filling and removal
of dust and the second is to let the finish cure
thoroughly and then rub it out.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2847 posts in 971 days


#7 posted 07-30-2012 10:50 PM

Loren, that is awesome advice for varnishes and polyurethane! I have a hard time with those. I generally thin them and wipe them on, but that requires more coats. I will definitely try your method.

This finish is pretty fool proof though it’s completely different than a brushing varnish (which is why I use Danish oil a lot – super simple to get great results). You literally dump it on the piece and smear it around with a rag until the whole thing is soaked. Wait half an hour, repeat, wait 15 minutes, then KEEP wiping it dry. The problem is if

A – you wait too long between the first and second coat. The “varnish” in it seals off the wood a bit and doesn’t let subsequent coats fully absorb. Then you get the tackiness that Cleveland222 is complaining about. Once it gets tacky, it’s just a dust magnet, and wiping it makes it worse. You have to walk away and hope for the best

B – You put too much on. 2 coats is plenty. It’s an “in the wood” finish. You don’t need to build it up, just get full absorption. I have seen the “uneven spots” Cleveland222 is referring to. That is because during the first or second coat, the surface wasn’t kept wet. Some spots dry a lot quicker than others – especially if you get lazy with your final sanding (ask me how I know this :) )

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Cleveland222's profile

Cleveland222

10 posts in 849 days


#8 posted 07-31-2012 05:32 AM

lumberjoe: Thank you so very much for the advice and such a detailed procedural write-up. I’m sure this post will be very useful to many in the future. Doing some searching before I posted I read that Watco “teak oil” isn’t actually teak oil. If I was looking for a proper teak oil or the other products you mentioned where would I locate them? As I mentioned, I’m unsure exactly what type of wood I’m working with. It is the heaviest, densest wood I’ve ever come across, and the closest thing I thought of was Teak, which is why I went this route. Maybe the density is part of the reason it isn’t taking the oil so well?

I took your write-up as that’s what I should have done from the beginning. What would you suggest I do next, at the point I’m at? Am I able to basically start your process from where I’m at currently?

Loren, Thank you so much for the advice. I learned a ton from reading that.

I feel confident that I thoroughly prepped the surface. I sanded it for days from 60 to 120 to 220 to 400 and then washed it down, wiped with mineral spirits and made sure it was spotless. I was shaking the can of oil though which I didn’t think not to do, mainly because the can says to.

I think I’d be confident in my approach if I were just starting this project now. Guess I’ll post first next time.

When buffing the surface out should I be using motion as if I were waxing a car, or should I be going back in forth, only with the grain?

Also, between coats I’ve been wet-sanding with 220 grit. Is that the correct procedure?

I’m unsure if the “flooding” method would work where I’m at currently. Since I’ve put down so much will the surface still take the oil as it needs to? Or do I need to sand it all off and start over. (Please give me any advice but that) Wishful thinking, but I’m hoping there’s something I can do to finish this quickly.

Again, thanks everyone for sharing all your expertise. I truly appreciate it.

-Andrew-

-- @Cleveland222

View fussy's profile

fussy

980 posts in 1773 days


#9 posted 07-31-2012 07:15 AM

It looks as if you are using Ipe (Tababuia spp), a very hard oily wood. That’s what it looks like to me. If your objective was a smooth matte or semi-gloss finish (or even a high gloss finish) you could have accomplished that by sanding through 320 and waxing then buffing . Adding so much oil to such an allready oily wood is asking for trouble in that the oil present in the wood prevents proper drying of the added oil. Rosewoods are the most common example of this problem, but any naturally oily wood is capable of causing problems. Especially Ipe.

If it seems soft or gummy, it won’t dry and will need to be stripped. I also noticed in your sanding sequence you skipped grits between 120 and 220 (should have used 150 or 180-preferably both). Between 220 and 400 you should have used 320. Skipping grits leaves behind scratches that both show up in the finish and lead to uneven absorption. If in doubt about moving up a grit, wet it down with mineral spirits. You will see the scratches better.

Your basic problems ar these: 1) You are using oil (and quite excessively) on an oily wood. The oils in the wood are incompatible with the oil you are adding. When using the flooding method, wait only 20-30 minuites between coats as mentioned above. Once the varnish in the “teak oil” dries (and it is a wiping varnish-a mixture of poly or some varnish and a drying oil) no further absorption is possible, the finish piles up and becomes a soft sticky mess.
2) You are skipping grits and causing more problems.

Solution? Strip it, sand it without skipping grits. Be sure all scratches are of equal size before moving on. Alternate going at an angle to the grain to with the grain with successive grits to assure scratch removal up to 220. Then go to sanding with the grain. Vacuum thouroughly between grits to be sure nothing is left of the preceeding grit.

With Ipe, which this is, you can bring it to a HIGH polish by simply sanding to a grit like 1000, 1500, then 2000 (after 400, 600, and 800). Then wax and buff. Ipe is one of the most durable woods on the planet, and one of the hardest. You need NO finish to protect it. Wax is sufficient, can be buffed to a high gloss (think spit shine-seriously), and will give the table a tactile feel that begs to be touched.

Finally, don’t obsess about finishing the other side. No finish, not even epoxy, prevents moisture movement into and out of wood after a few weeks. Finishing the underside has no effect on wood movement. If you doubt this, look up articles by Jeff Jewitt on the subject in Fine Woodworking and Popular Woodworking. It has been accepted as holy writ up until now, and is hard to believe, but Jewitt lays out a convincing case.

You have a nice start to a beautiful project. It will work out, but you will have to work out. Two last pieces of advice: next time test your finishing procedure on scrap, and if you have had no problems with dust sensitivity, consider yourself lucky. Get at least a high quality dust mask and use it assiduously. Let us know.

Steve

-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Cleveland222's profile

Cleveland222

10 posts in 849 days


#10 posted 07-31-2012 02:00 PM

Fussy,

Thank you so very much for the help and advice about the project.

Would it make sense for Ipe to be referred to as “Brazilian Hardwood?” Does it fall into that category?

Sounds like I have a long road ahead of me still. How would you suggest stripping it?

I didn’t realize I was skipping grits, so thank you for making me aware of that. Once stripped should I be doing all of this sanding dry or move to “wet” at the finer grits?

Thanks again everyone for the education!

-Andrew-

-- @Cleveland222

View Doss's profile

Doss

779 posts in 987 days


#11 posted 07-31-2012 03:41 PM

Well, if it’s not a gooey mess, you can probably try to wait it out and see what happens. Maybe it’ll cure enough with time. Maybe not. Either way, it’s no fun to remove a gooey finish. It’s kind of like pine sap at times. It will clog your sandpaper if you try to sand it. You’ll have to pick it off your scraper if you try that too.

To see if you can increase the curing, get a fan to circulate air around the piece. Do not aim the fan directly at the piece. You will be picking stuff out of the finish and maybe get unevenness to your finish. If you plan on sanding and covering with another finish, it still may turn out acceptable. But at this point, it’s a coin toss.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1479 posts in 1084 days


#12 posted 07-31-2012 08:26 PM

1. Strip it completely with a MEC based stripper.
2. Wash it well with naptha.
3 Give it three coats of waterborne poly. Light first coat and a rubdown with maroon Scotchbrite, followed by two full coats.
4. Rub it out with 0000 steel wool and Butchers or Johnson wax.
5 Polish the wax with an old towel or tee shirt.
6. Admire your fine work.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View fussy's profile

fussy

980 posts in 1773 days


#13 posted 08-01-2012 02:09 AM

Andrew,

It certainly makes sense. It’s a very hardwood and grows all over Brazil. My Son-in-law is from Brazil and his parents have one in their yard; right next to a beautiful mango. Down there, they use Ipe for railroad ties, dock pilings, factory floors and anything requiring extreme toughness and durability in harsh environments. That’s why it is so popular here as deck material.

I would strip it with something like Zip Strip. Don’t worry about letting what you have dry. It won’t ever cure properly and the longer you wait the worse it will get. Please don’t ask how I know this. Then I would sand as descriped earlier, but start about 150 grit. No need to go back much farther UNLESS you see scratches larger than what you’re making with 150. That’s the reason for sanding at an angle (45* or so) to the grain; it makes scratches going with the grain stand out. After that, move up without skipping, examine your work and move on. Don’t over sand; it’s too much work. When the scratches look equal, move on. As I said, use paint thinner to wet the work to help you see your progress.

Stick with dry sanding. Wet sanding is used only in the final sanding and polishing of a film finish and only when it is fully cured and ONLY when you are certain that the the finish is thick enough and your sanding touch is gentle enough that you won’t sand through.

My experience with oily hard woods has been that they really need no finish at all. Try going to higher grits and you will find that it takes on a nice polish. Oily woods don’t like finishes. Oil based finishes won’t cure as you’ve found. Water base won’t stick well unless you seal with de-waxed shellac, and what’s the use? Sand to higher grits until you get the look you want (Ipe sands easily) then wax and buff. There’s an old article from Fine Woodworking that describes spit shining a wax finish. This wood is hard and oily enough to take care of itself. The wax just adds that final glow and feel.

You’re not as far from being done as you fear. Just don’t skip grits or over sand. Check your progress, move on, alternate directions until you hit 220 then go with the grain. The higher you go, the faster it goes. The higher grits may be found at auto supply stores that sell automotive paint and supplies. Just be sure not to skip and all will be well.

Steve

PS I wasn’t kidding about dust sensitivity. Ipe contains a yellowish substance, lapachol, that causes problems for some. If it begings to bother you, get a GOOD dust mask and take frequent showers with as little soap as possible, and see a doctor. If it hasn’t bothered you yet, you may have lucked out. Just be careful. Don’t ask me how I know.

PPS If you prefer the UNFINISHED SIDE, why are you going to all the bother of a perfectly finished side?

-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Cleveland222's profile

Cleveland222

10 posts in 849 days


#14 posted 08-01-2012 05:34 AM

Fussy,

Thank you so much for all the help!

I think the surface has dried fairly well actually. I can sand pretty deep without it getting gooey, or gunking up my sandpaper. Would you still suggest stripping vs. sanding? Can I get the stripper you recommended at Lowes or Home Depot?

Honestly, I don’t see any scratches in the surface so I’ll start at 150 as you suggested.

I’ve been messing with this wood for far too long now and it hasn’t bothered me at all, so I must be immuned. Thanks for the warning though!

It seems like you have extensive experience with this wood. Why do you prefer your method, over say Clint’s advised method above your post? Just curious.

Is this the article you were referring to? : http://www.finewoodworking.com/Materials/MaterialsPDF.aspx?id=2912

Ok, here’s the story on why I’m even finishing one side of the desk:
I looked high and low for reclaimed wood, something with texture, character, history, etc.
I ended up finding it right under my nose where I worked. We had a large roof-top deck that had been there for years, and was probably the highest traffic area in the entire city of Cleveland, so it was good and patina’d. The wood was all free / extra from some renovation we had recently done. I was introduced to some guys at a wood shop, through friends, where I took the wood to make into my desk-top. I was planning on gluing it up, trimming it down and calling it a day. The guys who owned the shop, I was going to do the work at, ran a scrap piece through a planer, to see what it looked like underneath. With just taking the very surface off it simply looked stunning…..like a fine piece of furniture. After all the abuse the wood had taken everyone was surprisingly impressed. The guys at the shop thought it an awful shame to hide all that beauty and to use such fine lumbar in the manner I was. I saw where they were coming from and agreed that we’d give the tops with the best of both worlds. One perfectly finished side, to do the wood justice, as well as to have an alternative to the weathered, nicked up side, if it became annoying to use as a desk-top. And leave the other side alone so I’d have the re-claimed, weathered, grey’d out look I was originally going for. The two table tops will be used to form an L-Desk for now, but the tables will be built so that they can be used separately if need be in the future. So, I thought with a just a few days of extra work I would have more versatile furniture, the guys who where kind enough to let me use their shop would be happy, and the wood would be given the opportunity to live up to its potential. Had I known it was going to turn into this mess and take up weeks of my time I would have never considered it, but I also damn sure won’t give up and throw in the towel. As little the desire is to keep going with this there is no way I will have wasted all this time to just quit.

Sorry for the long-winded explanation, and thanks to everyone again for all the help and advice.

Lesson learned: check here first.

I’ll be sure to post pictures of the progress.

-Andrew-

-- @Cleveland222

View fussy's profile

fussy

980 posts in 1773 days


#15 posted 08-01-2012 07:19 AM

Andrew,

Yes I would still strip it. As you said you could sand a good bit before running into a soft surface, you can see that it will never dry hard enough or consistent enough to use. You will be stuck with papers sticking to the desk. It just isn’t worth the trouble. Strip it and be done with it.

Zip Strip can be had at any big box, hardware or paint store. The brand isn’t as important as following the instructions and cautions carefully. Clint, Loren. Lumberjoe and others offer good advice on general finishing, but what you have is a different situation. A finish is applied to either protect the project, change it’s appearance, or both. It is my opinion that Ipe needs neither. You agree that when dressed it is a strikingly lovely wood. Worthy, as you said, of being used in fine furniture. Ipe is far harder than teak or white oak, so any finish you apply will be SOFTER than the wood to which it is applied. It seems to be a wasted effort.

I have had some experience with Ipe, and I like it. I built a small table for two for my daughter and her husband (I mentioned he was from Brazil) when they were married 10 years ago. I tried various finishes on scrap, my preferred being oil based poly. It just wouldn’t dry hard enough, had adhesion problems, and didn’t do anything for the wood that I liked. I sanded a piece as I described before through 2000. The farther I went, the more excited I got. It polished magnificantly, but it needed that little extra touch. I waxed it with Johnson’s Paste Wax, buffed with an old t-shirt, did it again and called it a day.

I did the table top that way, the rest I stopped at 320 and waxed. It shone like a new car. It still does now, but they’ve outgrown it. I also found that contact dermatitis is no fun, but that’s another story.

I have done this with yellowheart, shedua, and several other tropical woods. The most strikng were ipe and yellowheart with both looking like mirrors. On woods that need no alteration or protection, I see no need for anything other than wax after fine sanding. The sanding gives you the surface you want and the wax the glow and feel. It is easy to apply, is compatable with the oils in the wood (ipe-yellowheart isn’t oily. but hard)
looks great and is dirt simple to restore.

As I said, you are not nearly as far from completion as you think. This process won’t take nearly as long as it has and your vision of the compleated project is a nice one. Try this on a piece of scrap before you decide how to proceed. If it pleases you, do it. The wood will take any abuse you give it with no finish at all. You have the unfinished side as proof.

Sorry for the long-winded answer. I suppose we are both long-winded, but then we are wood workers! Only fishermen and politicians talk more. The difference is, we speak the truth. Good luck, and post pictures.

And yes, that is exactly the right article. The author used mahogany, so he sealed it first to fill the pores. I believe he used shellac at some point because of mahogany’s porous nature. I didn’t find that necessary for ipe what with sanding to as high grit as I did. Good job finding the article.

Steve

-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

showing 1 through 15 of 30 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

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase