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Finishing Wormy Chestnut Cabinets

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Forum topic by silverraven posted 08-23-2009 07:58 PM 9373 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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silverraven

9 posts in 2665 days


08-23-2009 07:58 PM

I just joined here and after reading most of your posts I thought this may be a place to get an answer. My hubby and I are making raised panel doors for our kitchen cabinets. This is the first time we have made raised panel doors. We bought wormy chestnut that was salvaged from a 100 year old church. After sanding off the old finish this wood is beautiful! Now, how do we finish it? We have tried:

Waterlox – first, it stinks BAD. Second it is making my beautiful wood look like golden oak.

General Arm R Seal – not as golden as the Waterlox, but still tends to be golden.

Polycrylic – doesn’t change the color to golden, but it doesn’t make the worm holes/grain pop.

100% Pure Tung Oil – I guess where the wood is so old if I do it the traditional way and dilute it 50/50 with mineral spirits after sanding the wood to 150 grit it turns my wood very very dark and muddies the grain. (I don’t know a better way to explain it) If I sand the wood to 600 grit it stays a lighter shade and really pops the grain and worm holes. But does enough soak in to protect the wood? Every place I read says to only sand to 150. And is Tung Oil enough for a kitchen? I know I will have to wipe on another coat every year, which is ok.


Am I just being too picky about the golden oak color? Is that the color that chestnut turns? (we have never worked with chestnut before) I really really don’t want to mess this wood up, they aren’t making any more of it! Any suggestions on how to finish this wood and not make it look like 1980’s golden oak cabinets? I know from reading through this forum there are many wise people on here. I’m hoping someone here can help me. Sorry to ask so many questions! Thanks in advance for all your advice! S


19 replies so far

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a1Jim

115206 posts in 3044 days


#1 posted 08-23-2009 08:18 PM

Welcome to Ljs .Finishing is a thing you will get lots of opinions about what’s good and whats bad. I suggest buying a book or two about it and or DVDs Like Charles Neils “Finishing a-z” and experiment. I suggest this because many have asked in the past an the answers are all over the place. It’s just one of those things in wood working you have to find what works for you. You might also do a search on LJs to read some of the earlier input on the subject.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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Bill White

4458 posts in 3428 days


#2 posted 08-23-2009 10:19 PM

Anything/finish oil based will tend to “yellow” the wood. The waterborn poly is clear. Is the project too big to use a wiping varnish? Yes, you will get a more golden color, but a more traditional finish such a varnish will show the wood for what it is…...BOOOOTIFULLLLLL.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

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silverraven

9 posts in 2665 days


#3 posted 08-23-2009 10:29 PM

So, a wiping varnish is Waterlox or General Arm R Seal? Or am I wrong there? And no, the project isn’t too big. It is big, but we have lots of time, so wiping wouldn’t be a problem.
And you would go wiping varnish instead of Tung Oil? Could I make my own wiping varnish 50/50 Tung Oil/Polyurathane? (the mineral spirits seem to open the poors and let it get muddy looking??) Thanks! S

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Grampa

20 posts in 2902 days


#4 posted 08-24-2009 11:52 PM

If you are not going to stain, I would seal it with unwaxed shellac, Bullseye wood sealer already mixed, which
you can find it at Lowes or Menards in this part of the country. It has a great shelf life, and can be used for lots of projects. Then you can use wipe on poly or gel varnish. I have used both and the results are excellent.
Min-wax wipe on poly, or gel varnish. This will go slightly amber but won’t spoil anything, it will still look great. I used this ( gel varnish) over unwaxed shellac, (the shellac will soak and seal nicely) to finish the stickly side board I made and several other projects , and I’m very pleased with the results.

-- -- Doug H, MI

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Grampa

20 posts in 2902 days


#5 posted 08-24-2009 11:55 PM

Sorry I forgot to tell you I sand to 180, or 220 depending on how I like the feel. The shellac will seal well at those grits.

-- -- Doug H, MI

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silverraven

9 posts in 2665 days


#6 posted 08-29-2009 02:44 PM

How does brush on lacquer stack up against wipe on poly? I’m trying everything, if you can’t tell! I still keep going back to the sample that was sanded to 600 grit and done with 100% pure tung oil. It’s gorgeous! sigh Why can’t decisions be easy? We just really want to get this right.
Oh, and no stain. What does sealing with shellac ‘get me’ in terms of color? I’ve never used it before. Before this project we have always stuck with the same old same old, poly acrylic or polyurethane. I had no idea there were so many different types of finishes out there! Thanks for all suggestions! S

View Julian's profile

Julian

880 posts in 2993 days


#7 posted 08-29-2009 03:21 PM

I vote for lacquer. That is what most cabinets are finished with. Lacquer is more durable than poly, and goes on much quicker.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4458 posts in 3428 days


#8 posted 08-29-2009 07:46 PM

Silverraven, I was NOT talking about a wipe-on POLY. Wipe-on varnish (I use Old Masters blended tung oil varnish) will give you a more traditional workable finish. It is a gloss that can be rubbed out to a beautiful, rich finish. Won’t look like plastic. Don’t use something that would detract from the natural beauty of a wood as hard to find as wormy chestnut (PWEEEESE!!)
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

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silverraven

9 posts in 2665 days


#9 posted 08-29-2009 11:03 PM

I’m sorry Bill, I had a brain fart there. Of course I meant wipe on varnish! Duh!
OK, here’s a question for all you wood gurus. Can I put on a couple coats of pure tung oil, then shellac, then lacquer? The reason I”m asking is that this wood seems to be so thirsty, and the tung oil is probably going to feed it better than anything else. And is lacquer just glorified plastic too? Or, instead of lacquer on the top, go with wipe on varnish on the tung? The plain wipe on varnish doesn’t give it the depth that the pure tung does. Maybe cause it is so old?
Just knocking around ideas here. And, does anyone here know if JUST tung oil is enough to protect kitchen cabinets? Thanks! S

View huff's profile

huff

2828 posts in 2752 days


#10 posted 08-31-2009 03:11 AM

Silverraven, I’m not sure if I will be much help with your finishing delima, but the one question you keep asking and nobody has addressed yet is; will JUST tung oil be enough to protect kitchen cabinets? Tung oil will give you a beautiful finish with enough coates, but offers very little protection from moisture, heat or chemicals. Not recommended for kitchen cabinets. Jim has some good advice, read as much as possible about the different products. Find out the pros and cons of each. Ease of application, protection, effect it will have on tinting the wood, etc. Then do your testing with some scrap and see how you like each. Can you work with spray finishes or will you need to stay with wipe-on type finishes. Spraying nitrocelous lacquer, pre-catalyzed lacquers, post-catalyzed lacquers or conversion varnishes is another group of finishes all together. These are the finishes most cabinets shops use, but they are set up to spray finishes. Good luck and we look forward to seeing those cabinets when you’re done. keep us posted.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

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silverraven

9 posts in 2665 days


#11 posted 08-31-2009 03:38 AM

Thank you very much for answering my question about Tung Oil. I have searched and searched the internet, and could never get a straight answer!
I don’t have spray equipment, so unless it is brush, wipe, or spray can I can’t do it. We did get some brush on lacquer to try, it doesn’t look too bad. Hubby just keeps going back to how beautiful the wood looks with the tung oil on it. And it does look the best, but it also needs to be protected.
I have tried General Arm R Seal wipe on varnish. It’s ok, but it does tend to yellow(not as bad as Waterlox though!). But it is suppose to be a good finish. So I guess it is between General Arm R Seal and brush on lacquer. We definetly don’t want a glossy finish. Will brush on lacquer be as protective as spray on?
Sorry to be such a pest guys! I really do appreciate all the advice. S

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huff

2828 posts in 2752 days


#12 posted 08-31-2009 04:03 PM

Silverraven, back again..lol. To answer your question about brush on lacquer giving as much protection as spray on lacquer? I’m not sure what brand brush on lacquer you are working with, but most brush on lacquer is your basic nitrocelous lacquer with some sort of retarder added to slow the flash over time down some so you have time to brush. Nitrocelous lacquer has been used in the furniture industry since the late 1920’s when they switched from shellac. Positive side of lacquer is the fast drying time, has fair protection from moisture and chemicals ( not much from heat, but that should not be a problem in your kitchen, don’t think you will be setting a hot pan on a cabinet door). lol Another advantage to lacquer is it’s easy to repair. When applying lacquer, each coat will burn into the previous coat, so for example, if you apply 3 coates of lacquer, each coat will burn into the other to actually make one thick coat. They improved lacquers when they started to add a catalyst to it. Made it much more resistant to moisture, heat and chemicals, but it also changed it’s make up. Now when a catalyzed lacquer is used, it does not burn into each coat, but layers one on top of the other. Much harder finish, but much harder to repair if something happens to the finish. All that being said( and I’m sure I bored you to death). A brush on lacquer is probably a straight nitrocelous, which will be fairly easy to work with and give you pretty good protection. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you’ve heard enough from me. Remember, I spray all my finishes, so can help you that way, but since you will be doing a wipe on or brush on finish, I just wasted some of your time telling you about lacquers. If you do have any questions though, you can PM me and will help out any way I can. Good luck.
One other thing. Years ago when I did use wipe on finishes, I loved the look tung oil gave my projects also, but I knew it didn’t give the protection I wanted. I liked the protection that polyurethane gave, but it was very hard to use and get the look I wanted, so I thought I would be ingenius and mix tung oil with
polyurethane to get the best from both worlds. Easy to apply, great look and protection! I was a genius!!!!
Only to find out the next time I went to Woodworkers Supply, I found that General Finishes already had a product that was a blend of tung oil/polyurethane. What can I say…..day late and a dollar short!
I will have to say I like General finishes and always had good luck with them…....Now, did I totally confuse you? Hope not. Good luck.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

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silverraven

9 posts in 2665 days


#13 posted 08-31-2009 04:48 PM

No, you didn’t confuse me, very informative. Though it is confusing, I am enjoying learning about all these different options. The ability to repair easily is one of the things that attracts me to both Tung Oil and lacquer. I wish I had the set up (or money to buy the set up!) to spray, but I just don’t. The brand of brush on lacquer I got was Deft, I just picked it up at my local Lowe’s. Is this an ok brand?
I am going back and looking again at the General finish sample. I did hear, and please correct me if I am wrong, that they no longer use Tung Oil, but use BLO instead. How many coats of General would I apply if I decide to go that way? Oh, and this I think is very important, how smooth would I sand? I have read 150, but then on here I see a lot of you guys sand to 220 for stain/clearcoat. Can I go even further than that, or should that be it?
Thanks again! S

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huff

2828 posts in 2752 days


#14 posted 09-01-2009 04:58 AM

It’s great to see such patience. Deft….. I’m told it’s a good product and fairly easy to use. As far as the number of coates to apply will be up to you, but should probably figure 3. It will depend on how much the first coat soaks in. Each coat will look a little better than the previous, so it’s up to you when to stop. Let each coat dry completely and lightly sand between coates. Sanding…....The finer the grit you sand with the more it will close the pores of the wood. That will affect pigmented stains, since the depth of color is determined by how much pigments can penatrate the pores…the tighter the pores, the less color.
Usually using a clear finish doesn’t affect the color much, but does make a difference of making the beauty of the wood pop. I usually sand with 220 before finishing, whether staining or just clear coating. That’s only because I know how my stains and clear coates will react and all my sanding will be consistent. That is very important. A big mistake a lot of woodworkers will make in finishing is not being consistent when sanding. Example; A table, they will sand the table top to 600 grit because it looks and feels so good, but don’t want to spend all that time doing the skirt and legs so only sand to 220. It will show a big difference when they stain and finish. Two different looks. So, whatever you sand to, just be consistent. Good luck.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

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silverraven

9 posts in 2665 days


#15 posted 09-02-2009 04:44 PM

OK, just one more question then I will leave you guys alone. Since my husband loves the look of the wood with pure tung oil on it, is there any reason I can’t apply the Tung Oil, let it dry for a couple days, then apply clear unwaxed shellac, then brush lacquer to get a stronger finish? I have read somewhere on here you can do this with BLO, and I am wondering if it will work with Tung Oil too.
Oh, totally off the subject, but is Watco Danish Oil a decent finish? And, does it darken the wood, or just pop the grain? Thanks. S

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