Month's Goal: $300, Received: $300.00 - (100%) Contribute Now
Donate whatever you can or Join the 15,000 other NAWCC members for only $72 (plus $10 for hard copy publications). Check it out here.


NOTICE Notice: This is an old thread. The last post was 3303 days ago. If your post is not directly related to this discussion please consider making a new thread.
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 26
  1. #1

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood?

    This is a hypothetical question, but one that has been rolling around my pea-brain since I have clocked into this group in May.

    I have used tung oil on furniture I have refinished. I liked the feel as I worked with it. I was not after the high gloss or sealed surface we put on clocks. I wonder about the dryness of wood with shellacs, etc. With the tung oil, I can feel the oil going into the wood and think (maybe mistakenly so) I am preventing the wood from drying out.

    Questions:
    1) Aside from the beauty of the shellac, why don't we use the oils on clock cases?
    2) What do the oils do for the wood in furniture refinishing?

    Okay - I've exposed my ignorance - please advise :biggrin:.

  2. #2

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood? (RE: cynthia)

    This is a hypothetical question, but one that has been rolling around my pea-brain since I have clocked into this group in May.

    I have used tung oil on furniture I have refinished. I liked the feel as I worked with it. I was not after the high gloss or sealed surface we put on clocks. I wonder about the dryness of wood with shellacs, etc. With the tung oil, I can feel the oil going into the wood and think (maybe mistakenly so) I am preventing the wood from drying out.

    Questions:
    1) Aside from the beauty of the shellac, why don't we use the oils on clock cases?
    2) What do the oils do for the wood in furniture refinishing?

    Okay - I've exposed my ignorance - please advise :biggrin:.

  3. #3
    Registered User Scottie-TX's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Mesquite, TX
    Posts
    939

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood? (RE: cynthia)

    I have used "GILLESPIES" tung oil for years CYNTHIA - but not on clocks. My ENTIRE hickory kitchen is done with tung oil. I believe the oil IS beneficial to the BARE wood. I also believe different products find favor for different applications. e.g. I've never seen an oiled clock case. I think shellac was most prevalent. I've seen MANY oiled radios altho I believe lacquer was most popular. You'll find few fans of oil here on the board. That's simply not their choice. Not a damnation; Just a preference.

  4. #4
    chasbaz
    Guest

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood? (RE: cynthia)

    Hi Cynthia,

    The whole subject has been covered in detail in a lot of past posts.

    What I think it boils down to is what finish you want to see on your wood. Tung oil dries in the wood surface eventually, as does linseed oil. So it helps to consolidate the surface and make it more water and stain-resistant. A lot of modern and designer funiture is finished with these types of oil and it gives a nice look in my opinion.

    As far as stopping the wood drying out, feeding it etc is concerned, putting oil on the surface will not help much with that but applied in moderation it will make the wood look nicer. And if your atmosphere is dry, as it is where I live, nothing will stop wood drying out, and in fact you want it to do so - preferably not too quickly. If you have priceless antique furniture you had better keep it in a special room where the moisture content can be maintained, otherwise it WILL dry out whatever you do. Lots of fine furniture is moved from wet to dry regions and vice versa, and the carcases disintegrate, the veneer falls off etc.

    I might add that there are products which will help to stop wood from shrinking, by putting something else into the wood cells, but these have a specialised use. One of these methods is to soak the piece with a 50:50 mix of glycerol and alcohol. I don't see much use for this with clock cases though, although it can be used to make veneers more pliable.

    Mineral oil (e.g., lemon or orange oils) doesn't do much at all apart from colouring the wood, and its disadvantage is it doesn't dry like the other oils I mentioned, so it just tends to trap dirt.

    As you've guessed, I'm a wax man, and I use it for almost all of my restoration work as well as on new wood, except where a shellac or other similar type of finish is required.

    I could go on but...

    Have a great weekend,

    Charles

  5. #5

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood? (RE: cynthia)

    Cynthia,
    I'm with Chaz. Wax is the way to go. Other stuff can/will degrade the value of your antique.

  6. #6
    DrewV
    Guest

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood? (RE: cynthia)

    Craig, if you would be so kind to share your knowledge, I believe at one time you mentioned something to the effect that there are only a very few species of woods that contain any measurable quantities of natural oils.

    I read somewhere that the concept of "feeding" a wood using oils is false. The only necessity is to maintain a protective layer on the surface that allows the natural exchange of moisture and air to take place.

    Sure, oil will make a piece look shiny and "healthy" but is not actually doing anything to improve the quality or value of the piece. In fact, it is most likely actually reducing the value of the piece significantly.

    Just my opinion. I am also a big fan of good-quality paste wax.

  7. #7

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood? (RE: cynthia)

    Cynthia,

    Most coatings allow moisture (water - H2O) to pass through - simply put "most coatings breathe". If moisture is trapped inside "wet" wood and is painted and allowed to dry the escaping moisture can actually cause the paint to blister.

    It is important to maintain reasonable temperature and humidity levels - notice Museums monitor temperature and humidity. Cycling temperature and humidity can cause severe wood degradation.

    Andy Dervan

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    The Bronx, NYC
    Posts
    229

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood? (RE: cynthia)

    Hi Cynthia,

    One of the tenets of working with antiques is very much like a doctor's, "Above all else, do no harm!" For finishes on wood, that means using a finish that is as "reversable as possible." In other words, you should be able to remove it, if necessary, without doing any damage to the "substrate", i.e, the surface that the finish is on. Shellac is just about perfect for this. Wax is good, too, as it is easily reversable, but it affords relatively little protection, other than from liquid water, and then for relatively short periods. It's so soft that it wears off quickly. It's best to use it on top of a "resin" finish. A resin finish is the kind that leaves a coating on top of the wood (shellac, varnish, lacquer) as oppossed to the oil finishes (tung, linseed, walnut, et al) which are "penetrating resins." They typically do not "build up" on the surface.

    The problem with oils is that once they soak into the wood and dry, they are, for all intents and purposes, insoluable in almost any solvent except those that will damage the substrate, not to mention yourself. Oils do leave a nice finish as they do a wonderful job of highlighting the grain, but unless you put on at least 3 and preferably 5 or more coats of the oil, you don't get a lot of protection. Scottie used tung oil (real tung oil is great stuff) on his furniture and I'm sure that it looks great. I've used it on some furniture that I've built and it certainly looks good, but I, personally, would never use any oil on an antique. IMHO.

    Steve

  9. #9

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood? (RE: cynthia)

    Steve and Andy,
    Agreed. Couldn't have said it better myself.

    I went ahead and posted a separate topic on this to drag out my soap box.

    Hope this helps, Cynthia.

  10. #10

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood? (RE: cynthia)

    Evening Fellas -

    Thanks for all your collective wisdom. I wanted a good answer and got several - with expanded info to boot :biggrin:.

    Craig - I checked out your next post and am putting it in my off-line collection about finishes. I am really happy to be expanding my knowledge about woodworking.

    This helps me sort out the choices of oils vs. shellac and wax on my woodwork. I guess sometimes I may use tung oil, but with antiques, I'll be moving to shellac.

    Well, NettieRue is experiencing her first work with denatured alcohol and 0000 steel wool. The clock is really dirty. It's different looking at wood after working it that is not stripped down. The grain still has a dark color to it, there is color to the wood, and it still looks a little shiny. I guess I must be on the right track. I'm just following the excellent instructions I've been able to find in the Archives.

    Thanx again. Have a good weekend y'all.

  11. #11

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood? (RE: cynthia)

    Cyn,
    I guess you've seen the postings by Drew? He's documented for us all the advantages and rewards of using shellac in his postings. It takes a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it you realize it's the easiest finish to work with. Shellac is very forgiving.

  12. #12
    Registered User Scottie-TX's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Mesquite, TX
    Posts
    939

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood? (RE: cynthia)

    Wull CYNTHIA, I don't wanna be pedantic but most hypothetical questions are not hypothetical. This one was not. A question that commences: "Hypothetical question; If I shot someone . . . . ." In all likelihood the person asking the hypothetical question recently shot someone . The responses did bring to light something we all have learned here; There are a lot of misconceptions about clocks, caring for wood, etc. How nice to have this braintrust to dispel these myths and support their views with in depth explantations ( that's someone who lost his farm MIKE). Gotta go now. Time to replenish the kerosene in the bottom of my clocks.

  13. #13
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    West Yorkshire, England
    Posts
    9,813

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood? (RE: cynthia)

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Scottie-TX:
    How nice to have this braintrust to dispel these myths and support their views with in depth explantations ( that's someone who lost his farm MIKE).
    </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Thought they were removing engines from JCBs
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">
    Gotta go now. Time to replenish the kerosene in the bottom of my clocks. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
    You'll really have to get into pressure lanterns, Scottie.

    On - topic item:
    I find that having Craig here is a wonderful resource, and my clock cases and old radios have certainly benefited from his knowledge!
    Mike - banned member of the throwaway society.

  14. #14
    Tom Chaudoir
    Guest

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood? (RE: cynthia)

    There's more going on with oil than meets the eye.

    Back around 1860 a fellow left some linseed oil in a forgotten pan. What he later found was a sheet of tough plastic material. He then worked out a way to harden the oil quickly, add a burlap backing, and add decorative and functional powders. He named his invention "Linoleum".

    When applied to wood, linseed oil gives a tough water resistant finish that extends into the surface. It does tend to darken over time and the color tends to gray, rather than a traditional wood tone.

    Tung oil does not share the disadvantage. The finish will be about as tough as linseed oil, but the color is very stable. It comes from pressing the seed of the nut of the tung tree, native to China.

    The bad news, Cyn, is that your tung oil finish may not have any tung oil in it. It could be almost any sort of oil, or oil and varnish, or diluted varnish alone. Beats me why people are allowed to put "tung oil" on whatever sort of snake oil they cook up. These days the term seems to mean "A finish that looks wet after it's really dry."

    No attractive finish "seals" the wood. The average water content is going to track behind your average relative humidity.

    Wood needs to be fed at the same interval that you would feed a stuffed squirrel. Both are dead, and out of the habit of digestion.

    Very loosly related:
    Flaxseed oil is taken as a dietary supplement, high in Omega-3 fatty acids. That's a good thing. Linseed oil comes from, (ready?), flax seed. They use a different name or nobody would take the stuff. The oil for human consumption is cold pressed, while industrial solvents are used on the stuff in the hardware store. Drinking linseed oil might get you out of the habit of digestion.

    Regards,

  15. #15

    Default What Good is Oil on Wood? (RE: cynthia)

    Tom - thanx for info specifically about oil. That is one thing I wanted to understand - just what oil does or does not do for wood. I have seen some decent handmade furniture that used many applications of tung oil, sanded in between applications until it had a beautiful matte finish. I thought it was beautiful.

    I am teaching a course for NAMI right now, and one of the things we underscore for families is, "You can't know what no one tells you," or "You cannot operate on what you do not know." Sometimes, I think others believe folks should automatically know what we know. But it never comes without asking and getting answers. And everyone has a right to choose how they want to procede.

    So before y'all call the antique clock police on me, rest assured, my Ingraham Kitchen clock is just getting the shellac treatment. (Wonders if she should tell them about her mahogony dresser finished in tung oil )

Similar Threads

  1. what dial is this on a rolex explorer please?
    By watchwinder in forum Wrist Watches
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 04-05-2012, 11:02 PM
  2. Any ideas on what it is/was?
    By Bargain_Hunter in forum Clocks General.
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 05-24-2008, 08:36 PM
  3. What Good is Oil on Wood?
    By cynthia in forum Clock Repair
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 10-16-2005, 06:14 AM
  4. What/Who is WC CO on a Gilbert iron clock?
    By lamarw in forum Clocks General.
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 06-07-2005, 06:02 AM
  5. What is "gesso" on old Vienna Clocks?
    By doug sinclair in forum Horological Misc
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 01-13-2001, 03:59 AM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •