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Tips & Tricks

Guide To Oil Finishes on Furniture Guide To Oil Finishes on Furniture

The oil finish can have many names, from countries, ie French, Danish, Dutch to brands. Basically cleaning oiled wood requires you blend:

  • 1 pint boiled linseed oil
  • 1 pint gum turpentine
  • and 6 oz. distilled white vinegar.
Gum turpentine is flammable but smells like fresh wood. Wear gloves. Do not use around flame or spark; do not get on skin. Wipe the surface with a soft cloth that has been dipped in the cleaning solution. Never pour the solution directly onto the wood. Let the solution stand for a few minutes to loosen the soil; then wipe off the excess. All excess oil must be removed or it will attract dust and get gummy or tacky. To finish, rub with the grain.

NEVER USE wax or furniture polish on oil finishes. Re-oil yearly with boiled linseed oil, tung oil, or a product recommended by the manufacturer. These oils harden when exposed to air and seal the wood. Never use non-drying oils like mineral oil for wood finishes for furniture. Avoid using an oil dressing too often or too liberally as it will cause a hardened oil build-up. If this happens, use mineral spirits (paint thinner) to dissolve the residue.

Test For Existing Finish on Furniture

  • Rub a Few Drops of Boiled Linseed Oil Into the Wood - If it absorbs, the wood has an oil finish. If it beads up, the wood has a hard finish (continue)
  • Rub Acetone Over a Spot in a Gentle, Circular Motion - Polyurethane finishes shed acetone like water Lacquer dissolves in 30 seconds with rubbing. Varnishes and shellacs turn to a sticky, gel-like substance after a minute or two (continue)
Try a Few Drops of Denatured Alcohol - Shellac dissolves quickly in denatured alcohol. Varnish reacts slowly.

Refinishing Refinishing

Whether you're trying to patch up a scratch, or you just aren't satisfied with the color the stain came out as, refinishing will take care fo everything. Refinishing can be difficult, but with the right information it can be as easy as everything else.

Most Common Mistakes: Not letting the sealer dry before applying the next coat.

A sanding sealer should be applied after a stain. This is a transparent sealer put on the wood to firm up the fuzz of wood fibers which stick up after stripping and sanding. Sanding sealer was invented to solve the problem of shellac and varnish. It is also a solution to long drying times between varnish layers. (Apply one coat of sanding sealer and one coat of varnish.) Let the sealer dry overnight.

This sealer will make it easier to sand the wood smoother the next day, prior to applying the final finishing coat. Use an orbital sander and the various sanding shapes with a 220-grit sandpaper. The smoother the finish the longer it will last, because of less friction in cleaning and less places where dirt can lodge.

Furniture Refinishing - Applying the Sealer Go over the piece with a vacuum and tack cloth before continuing.

Warning: Sanding sealer is not meant to be used before a polyurethane finish. Polyurethane will not adhere to the sealer and will peel off.

Tip: Do not use sanding sealer before using a polyurethane finish. The polyurethane will not adhere to the sealer and will peel off.

ML Campbell Mohawk Behlen Minwax Wood-Kote Famowood Ronan Accuspray Mirka Mercer Pratt & Lambert Ralph Lauren Binks Kremlin 3M