New table with water based conditioner, want to use oil

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Forum topic by Tapefreak posted 07-07-2014 03:06 PM 2771 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1389 days

07-07-2014 03:06 PM

Hi all, this is my first post to the forum and I’m excited to be part of the community.

I recently started building an outdoor dining table for use on my deck. The table is a trestle style and the base is of new doug fir 4×4s. I cut the 4×4s, sanded them down, and then (mistakenly) applied a coat of Minwax WATER based wood conditioner.

Too late, I realized I should have started with the oil-based wood conditioner!

My original plan was to finish the table with the same Penofin marine oil I have used on the rest of the deck – the oil finish ages well, and I can just keep adding a fresh coat of oil every year as I do to maintain the deck. I am comfortable with water-based approaches, but I find the poly finishes to be a bit plasticy and they don’t hold up very well over time outdoors in my experience.

But is it too late? The can and the Minwax web site both say that the water base cannot be followed with oil.

My question is, what specifically will happen if I put a few coats of oil on top of this initial wood conditioner?

What do you think? Am I locked in to water-based stain on the table from now on? Is it exceptionally difficult to remove a layer of water based conditioner? Or is it possible to get good results by sealing water-based conditioner with oil?

6 replies so far

View CharlesNeil's profile


2389 posts in 3839 days

#1 posted 07-07-2014 06:48 PM

you will be fine, you just need to give the prestain a very light scuff sand with some 320 or finer , just basically a wipe to remove the raised grain. The issue you will probably have is the stain will be lighter, but this is the case with any oil based stain . You may need need to go to a darker stain to get the color you want.

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3 posts in 1389 days

#2 posted 07-07-2014 07:28 PM

Thanks for the reply, Charles. Yesterday I sanded w/ 120 using a random orbital and lots of pressure. The conditioner was on unassembled 4×4s so it was fairly easy to get it off.

Which brings another question. I read that minwax oil stains are meant for outdoor furniture because they fade quickly in the UV. Were I to be honest, I’d have to admit that I’m less than enthused about most of the results I’ve gotten with Minwax stain over the past few years.

As a more natural alternative I’m experimenting with ebonizing the wood using vinegar & steel wool, w/the intent of following up using several layers of penofin. I would like a finish that is somewhat gray and rusticated, so that the table doesn’t look “showroom new” for the first years until it’s had a chance to age properly.

Any thoughts or special recipes on using the vinegar/steel wool outdoors along with marine oil would be appreciated. I’m currently trying apple cider vinegar and white vinegar. Will they hold up?

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

28964 posts in 2307 days

#3 posted 07-07-2014 07:32 PM

Conditioner is different than finish. Your first reply was Charles Neil. Nationally recognized for how to finish wood (and a really nice guy). Do as he says and you’ll be fine.

Welcome to Lumberjocks.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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2389 posts in 3839 days

#4 posted 07-07-2014 07:46 PM

can you show me a color your looking for , I just finished a book on colors (finally) and got hard in to the greys using dyes and the steel wool and vinegar, the dyes are the easiest, because pine doesnt have alot of tannins in the wood and its reaction to steel wool and vinegar are not the best, unless you use tea and /or bark tan to ad tannins.. In any case WD Lockwood has some really nice dyes that do grey well. However Dyes do not do exterior that well , but they do have a metal complex one that should would be best for exterior and little fading , Also System Three just released a Marine grade urethane spar Varnish that I tested for them and also used on 10 White oak deck chairs and it has some really good UV absorbers, I would suspect of you used the Metal complex dye and the spar varnish, you would have a really nice look and finish.

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3 posts in 1389 days

#5 posted 07-08-2014 05:16 PM

Charles – After a bit of googling for examples, the final image on this link is pretty close to my favorite so far :

The table top will be comprised of 2×2s positioned longways in a staggered brickwork random pattern. The look I am going for will have several shades of color similar to the link above. I will likely incorporate a few boards with light washes to spice it up. I’m using/experimenting with both redwood and doug fir 2×2s and will probably incorporate both woods into the top if they produce an interesting result when stained.

So far I’ve tried apple cider vinegar and white vinegar with steel wool. It’s a bit early in the process to determine any definitive differences between the two.

I’d be very interested in your book on color as well as learning more about using dyes in stain. I’m an artist and mix my own encaustic paint using powdered pigments, but I have only a little experience with tinting wood stain – something I want to learn not so much for the patio table as for the sides of the cradled wood panels that I build to paint on. Trying to achieve the difference between “nice” and “wow!”

The penofin marine oil that I have on hand is a redwood tint which, when applied over the stained 2x’s produces a somewhat greenish/gray tint. I really like the purplish orange colors of the stained redwood before the oil went on. I may end up purchasing some clear penofin or maybe the grayish tinted one.

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2041 days

#6 posted 07-08-2014 05:59 PM

CharlesNeil and others, a little off topic, but in the heart of greying techniques. Have you tried Lifetime as a greying treatment? I have used it to grey out oak, and then clear coated for a beautiful interior treatment. I have used it alone on cedar and pine. It is not really controllable on exterior applications, but it speeds anything outdoors to that beautiful 100 year old grey effect. As I stated a uv protective top coat does well to seal and stop the reaction for indoors. Below is a piece of maple with a single wash, and the pic (not a good pic for the finish) is the oak piece.

-- Who is John Galt?

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