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Anyone have advice on "Burnishing Finish""?

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Forum topic by Rob posted 140 days ago 1154 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rob

65 posts in 184 days


140 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: resource humor tip jig question trick walnut finishing sanding woodburning refurbishing arts and crafts rustic victorian greene and greene shaker modern traditional burnish burnishing burnished luster shine buff high end quality custom spray gun sander paint brush rags denim cotton linseed oil tung oil toners shellac varnish laquer wax flakes how to finish walnut table top tables apply burnished finish how to help buffer techniques

I’m currently smack dab in the middle of building two large coffee tables with matching end tables constructed of 100% solid Walnut. I want to produce different fishes for each set of tables. One set I already know how I’m going to finish, but I would like to finish the other set in a more unique way than what’s already out there. I’m familiar with many different finishing techniques and the world of finishing is a VAST sea of literally thousands of combinations producing thousands of different results, but I have always been interested in “Burnished Finishes” but have yet to really master any of the 100 techniques that seem to qualify as actually “Burnishing”.

Please excuse the lack of clarity, as I always forget to grab my good camera and bring it with me into the shop and am too lazy to walk inside the house to get it. I’m also in the process of an entire garage remodel into a proper shop. More like a studio as it’s only 15’ x 22’ but it’s big enough for now. Here are half of the 5/4 boards, the other half are already clamped into first table top in the backround, and some are scattered around.

I was thinking toning, then sealing, then toning again, then top coat.

There seem to be A LOT of different methods, and I know everyone has their own personal preference so can some of you guys fill me in as what are some of the best ways to do this, as I want to produce a very “High End” look to my finish.

And question #2: I recently watched a video of a guy finishing a walnut slab table. His first step (after danding obviously), was adding oil, and sanding it “into” the grain with an ROS. Is this recomended? I’m not sure what tyep odf oil it was or if it was tinted at all, but the results were very impressive. Any ideas fellow Lumber Junkies?

*Note, pleas share if anyone has a great way they like to finish Walnut, even if it has nothing to do with Burnishing. I’m always interested in trying different and new (new to me anyway) techniques.

Thanks,

-- Rob, Middletown NJ


23 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

1715 posts in 1118 days


#1 posted 140 days ago

I wouldn’t sand it in with an ROS (at least not an electric one) because that can really screw up an ROS. Maybe the air powered jobs are capable (don’t know, don’t have one) but a shop ROS will almost certainly be ruined after it gets BLO soaked into the pad and the innards where the air blows. That said, I have slurry sanded with both BLO as well as danish oil (BLO/MS/Varnish) and really like the way it comes out. It’s work, and it takes a while since you apply, wait, then repeat. I use wet/dry paper on a wood block, and almost always top coat it with wiping varnish. But I’ve never done it on walnut….my favorite on it is just a coat of thinned BLO to get it dark, and then top coat with whatever the project calls for (typically a varnish). Another one I like, but use less, is to give it a coat of garnet shellac. That in turn gets top coated with something I consider appropriate for use.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, we sent 'em to Washington.

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10717 posts in 1315 days


#2 posted 140 days ago

I have sanded walnut with BLO using an electric ROS to fill the pores and it worked very well. Use sanding discs that do not have any holes in them and your sander won’t be harmed.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2829 posts in 873 days


#3 posted 140 days ago

You could go old school Roubo style with a polissoir (reed burnisher) and wax as described here

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Rob's profile

Rob

65 posts in 184 days


#4 posted 139 days ago

Lumber joe I actually have been interested in buyinh one of these tools for awjile now. Thanks for the hookup. That little tool would be great for smaller applications, but I’m producing 22” x 36” table tops and I think this process would take a very long time. I will surely try it on at least one of the projects though, just to see the the time and extra effort are worth the result, therefor justifying maybe a higher sticker price.

Now Joe, is this considered “Burnishing”? I have read many different varieties in how this is accomplished. From my understanding, you finish the wood in whatever method u choose, and THEN you burnish the completely cured finish….anyone? anyone???

Where are you Mr Jinx? I know you probably have some knowledge in this…
Thanks

-- Rob, Middletown NJ

View camps764's profile

camps764

785 posts in 985 days


#5 posted 139 days ago

I believe Paul – Canadian Woodworks – on LJ’s does burnished finishes on his rocking chairs. I would reach out to him or scope out his blogs and see how he does it.

I think he sands them to a super high grit, and then uses a wipe on oil/poly blend.

-- Steve. Visit my website http://www.campbellwoodworking.com

View camps764's profile

camps764

785 posts in 985 days


#6 posted 139 days ago

Just re-read your post above….

Sanding the oil into the wood is a way to fill the grain. Guitar makers do this pretty often before they apply a finish to get a smooth surface and to close the pores off.

I did it on my telecaster using Minwax antique oil. I hand sanded it with a sanding block. It takes a while. I had to apply the oil, sand, wipe it off, let it cure for 24 hours….apply the oil, sand, wipe it off, let if cure…and repeat about 4 times.

-- Steve. Visit my website http://www.campbellwoodworking.com

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3684 posts in 1993 days


#7 posted 139 days ago

I believe that General Finishes has a product that along with very fine sandpaper, used manually, will do a decent burnishing job too. I remember seeing an article of a world glove stand finished using GF products for burnishing.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Tim's profile

Tim

1240 posts in 587 days


#8 posted 139 days ago

Rob, in the article Joe linked, there is a video of Don Williams on using it and he says it does burnish and fill the grain.

The biggest thing that struck me watching it is that would tire your wrist very quickly from the vertical angle of the handle. I could be wrong though. A different handle could obviously be made.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2829 posts in 873 days


#9 posted 138 days ago

Burnishing happens to wood fibers. If you have a film building finish, you aren’t burnishing, but buffing/polishing. With burnishing you are changing the cellular structure of the wood. It removes the softer wood cells and further compresses the fibers to the adjacent wall of harder cells.

The roubu technique uses reeds to remove the soft cells and compress the hard ones. Wax was used but this could also be done with an oil finish. As long as there is no film and you are able to compress the actual wood fibers, you can burnish.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3684 posts in 1993 days


#10 posted 138 days ago

Tim, I agree with you as watching the video made my carpal tunnel start to hurt.
I would think that something with a horizontal handle, like a pushblock, would be easier/better for both the wood and the hands

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View TheWoodenOyster's profile

TheWoodenOyster

703 posts in 560 days


#11 posted 138 days ago

That video is cool. I’ve never seen anything like that. Reminds you of how many variations of finishing there are out there.

The only thing that I would say I have ever “burnished” was a tobacco pipe. The burnishing just consisted of sanding aggressively with 1500 sandpaper. I then just coated the pipe in beeswax and rubbed it out with very firm pressure. At the time, I had no idea what I was doing, as it was my first woodworking project ever. I just saw that the pipe was looking and feeling better the more I sanded and the higher I went in grit, so I just kept on going. Don’t know how applicable that would be for a coffee table though. It’d be a lot of work

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View mantwi's profile

mantwi

312 posts in 521 days


#12 posted 138 days ago

I’ve seen videos of Japanese woodworkers using this technique before applying the finish and assumed it was to eliminate sanding while still attaining a very smooth surface. Any thing that eliminates sanding is a major advantage in my opinion. I hate sanding, hate the dust it generates, hate the process, in short I hate sanding and will be getting, making or otherwise obtaining a burnisher of this type post haste. Thanks for the post here, it filled in the gaps by providing details I could only guess about before.

View Rob's profile

Rob

65 posts in 184 days


#13 posted 135 days ago

Lumber Joe, so as long as I don’t “build up” a finish, I should be able to burnish it sounds like. Otherwise I’d just be “rubbing out” a finish. It seems there is a very fine line, and a gray area when it comes to burnishing vs polishing. Is it pretty much the same effect in the end? Is burnishing done to only eliminate some sanding? Or is it a result unlike any other? In other words…Is to burnish just another way to end up with a poilshed finish?

A little update:
I used some scrap to experiment, and found by rubbing a pice of walnut over antother piece also somewhat gives the burnishing effect. Well, it lays down the grain to make it flat. I’ve read that burnishing is actually in some circles a very undesireable effect? I guess if you do not want a high poilish…but Lumber joe, I watched a few videos that people are saying to burnish wood, you are supposed to do it AFTER you finish it. But I believe you are correct, this is to lay down the fibers, so if you already have a cured finish, you’re really just essentially “rubbing out your finish.”

This is all very complex, confusing, and sometimes frustrating. But I love it. Finishing is by far, as I’m sure is with many of you, my favorite part of the entire process.

-- Rob, Middletown NJ

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

987 posts in 760 days


#14 posted 135 days ago

While burnishing wood with oil or wax sounds exciting question the durability of these types of finish. Wax does not provide any protection for the wood. Tung oil is the only penetrating finish that does offer some protection. You will need to re-apply wax and Tung oil on a regular basis.

Think rubbing out a finish lot easier and faster once you learn how. I learned to rub out film finishes, lacquer, shellac, and varnish with mineral oil or water and pumice mixed into a paste. Used a felt chalk board eraser, and wiped hard with an old tee-shirt to wipe down surface. Never felt the need to using rotten stone after pumice. Before rubbing out a finish, your finish must cure first. That might add days to weeks before begining the process.

I always wet sanded using dish washing soap & water with either quality 400 or 600 silicon carbide sandpaper to get rid of dust nibs & even out the surface.

I stopped using pumice to rub out a finish instead prefer to wet sand and polish using micromesh these days.
Today there are even easier ways to rub out your favorite finish.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN-9vCSJWDQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV9y44JXXGU

-- Bill

View Rob's profile

Rob

65 posts in 184 days


#15 posted 135 days ago

Wildwood I’ve hear Arborlite is excellent for reubbing out a finish Wildwood…but expensive.I will take a look at vids. Thanks! So burnishing it seems to me, is pretty much just like rubbing out a finish WITHOUT a finish? Or is building up a finish then rubbing it all the way down? Very confusing. Just looking for a definitive burnish method. Maybe it is all just personal preference.

Thanks for all the replies. Lots of advice tp consider. Don’t wanna rush and destroy 500 bucks worth of Walnut!!!

-- Rob, Middletown NJ

showing 1 through 15 of 23 replies

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