looking for advise on finishing chestnut

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Forum topic by knotsofast posted 11-25-2013 06:13 PM 1107 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16 posts in 1069 days

11-25-2013 06:13 PM


I finally got my hands on some chestnut, since it is my first time working with it I don’t know what to expect in the finish stage.
I have noticed that while working with it you quickly get black staining on it from sweat and from wiping off excess glue . I am planing on putting a stain on to even out color and then top coating with either shellac or poly since it is going to be a dining room table. Before I do final planing on it I wanted to find out more about the black staining that the wood is doing on its own. will I activate that natural blackening with the stain that I want to put on? Is this something that will haunt me later by bleeding up through the finish?

18 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


4827 posts in 2236 days

#1 posted 11-25-2013 07:31 PM

The best advise I can give you is to do a finishing sample. Sand through your grits, apply stain, and topcoat just as you plan to do.
Many hardwoods will get black spots if wet glue contacts clamps. Stains from glue will be removed before staining.
My favorite finish time and time again is oil based stain (Rodda, Valspar, or Cabot), and two coats of sprayed lacquer for the topcoat. Unlike poly, lacquer melts in with previous coats forming a smooth finish. I have had lacquer on my dining tables for years, and they are just like new.
Poly dries too slowly for me. Often 8-12 hours or more. That’s a lot of time for dust nibs to find there way into the finish. Shellac is on the other end of the spectrum, it dries too quickly. In fact when spraying shellac, it can dry before it hits the surface, creating a rough finish. You can counteract this by using a retarder or slow drying denatured alcohol, however I choose to use lacquer.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View TaybulSawz's profile


141 posts in 1105 days

#2 posted 11-25-2013 07:57 PM

Here’s what my German Grandfather taught me a long time ago about finishing Chestnut. After final sanding with 180 grit, Wash it down really well with Lacquer thinner or Acetone. Let the thinner flash off. Then Mix up a 30-40-30 mix of BLO Applly liberally and let set for 20 minutes and wipe off access. Let dry over night and repeat for 3 days. Apply 3 coats of wax and you’re done.

Has always worked well for me !

-- Still got all my Fingers!!!

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 1784 days

#3 posted 11-25-2013 08:24 PM

Shellac or poly or lacquer or chicken shit and rainwater….anything but BLO. It’s only good for starting fires.

-- 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 TaybulSawz's profile


141 posts in 1105 days

#4 posted 11-25-2013 08:30 PM

It all depends on the BLO and How you apply it. Some methods are a lot better than others. Don’t KNOCK it till you’ve TRIED IT!!! Maybe the CS works well on YOUR furniture but NOT on mine!!!

-- Still got all my Fingers!!!

View knotsofast's profile


16 posts in 1069 days

#5 posted 11-27-2013 02:08 AM

Thanks for input, ...I don’t know what BLO is, ... I have done some samples, but I do not have large pieces to test. I have not seen black staining re-occurring under stain, but it has not been very long, I am more worried long term and during the process of getting the whole finished table wet with stain will that process act like plain water or sweat from your hands does and bring out the black tannin ?

View lightcs1776's profile


4145 posts in 1077 days

#6 posted 11-27-2013 02:37 AM

BLO is boiled linseed oil. That’s about the extent of my knowledge of woodwork finishing, so perhaps others will give some reasons on why to use or not to use it.

-- Chris ** If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. — Tom Paine **

View WhoMe's profile


1441 posts in 2667 days

#7 posted 11-27-2013 02:40 AM

BLO = boiled linseed oil
Has been in use as a wood preservative and finish for at least a century.
Only negatives that I know are slow drying (full strength), crumpled up rags can spontaneously combust if they are left to dry- thus the recommendation of opening up the rags and hang to dry or, soak them in water before opening them up to dry.
Positives are many. Used as a first coat of finish can enhance the grain on some woods.
Can be thinned with mineral spirits for quicker drying. Can be mixed with bees wax dissolved in mineral spirits as a finish. Can be mixed 3-2-1 (oil based polyurethane, mineral spirits, blo) for a great wipe on finish. And so on…

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View Dark_Lightning's profile


2620 posts in 2532 days

#8 posted 11-27-2013 03:23 AM

Chestnut can be finished like any other wood, it just depends on what you want to do. As far as BLO is concerned, I just use paper towels to apply it and then set them on fire in a safe location, just to make sure they don’t ignite when I don’t want them to.

I personally use nitrocellulose lacquer as my preferred finish.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View knotsofast's profile


16 posts in 1069 days

#9 posted 11-28-2013 06:43 PM


I just did not catch on to the initials. I have used boiled linseed oil on a few projects, I am comfortable with it. I prefer finishes I don’t have to spray since I don’t have a spray rig and my work is usually finished by someone else.This project is for my house so I have to finish it myself.

View danoaz's profile


219 posts in 1593 days

#10 posted 11-28-2013 07:14 PM

Consider putting down blue painters tape in areas that will get glue squeeze out to prevent the staining and to help with clean-up.

As if you didn’t know that already. ;-)

-- "Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art." Frank LLoyd Wright

View jdh122's profile


878 posts in 2241 days

#11 posted 11-28-2013 08:19 PM

We need some answers from people outside North America, where chestnut trees were not wiped out by blight and where woodworkers still have active experience with the species. Help from members from Europe or Asia?

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View TaybulSawz's profile


141 posts in 1105 days

#12 posted 11-29-2013 03:38 PM

Like I said in my previous post, My (European) German Grandfather who had extensive experience working with native chestnut taught me to use the 30-40-30 wipe on BLO finish for Chestnut. Thinning it like this makes it dry quickly and really gives the grain of the chestnut a nice hue. You can finish with a full strength coat of satin Poly to seal it if you wish but I just use 2-3 coats of Wax and a good buff. I too, use paper towels and the Burn Barrel to dispose of the rags.

-- Still got all my Fingers!!!

View knotsofast's profile


16 posts in 1069 days

#13 posted 12-02-2013 03:02 AM

how long can you store that mixture of 30/40/30 BLO after you mix it?

View TaybulSawz's profile


141 posts in 1105 days

#14 posted 12-17-2013 02:56 PM

I mix it a Pint @ a time and Seal it in Old Glass Pickle jars with Saran Wrap over the top. Had some for over a year with NO PROBLEM. To the best of my Knowledge and I HAVE researched it, BLO does not really have a “Shelf Life” soooo…Once you mix your finish, as long as it’s sealed well it will last indefinitely. I’ve never had an issue.

-- Still got all my Fingers!!!

View Laughran's profile


65 posts in 1352 days

#15 posted 12-18-2013 11:47 AM

What do you mix with blo to get a 30/40/30 mix?

-- David

showing 1 through 15 of 18 replies

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