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What oil to use on nut wood furniture

  1. May 5, 2013 #1

    Monique

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    I have some walnut wood furniture (dining table, coffee table) that doesn't have a permanent finish. I've treated it in the past with boiled linseed oil that's dissolved in turpentine, but I'm looking for alternatives.

    I don't like the turpentine, would it be possible to use oil without the presence of a solvent? The dining table has a very smooth finish so I'm sure it would be easy to treat with a thicker oil. The coffee table wood has a more open structure, so spreading the oil would be more of a problem.

    I'm also wondering about the type of oil, I have the idea that linseed oil leaves a smell. Would grape seed oil be a better non-fragrant alternative?

    Hopefully people have some experience here :) The furniture store only recommends their commercial product, I went to a paint/diy shop who supplied me the boiled linseed oil in turpentine as a maintenance product.
     
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  3. May 5, 2013 #2

    Astronuc

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  4. May 5, 2013 #3

    jim hardy

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    Possible sacrilege here - but i'm a believer in satin polyurethane varnish.

    Linseed oil turns black in hard sunlight.
    Some permeable finishes get a white ring when a wet coffee cup is set on them.

    Polyurethane is impervious to boiling water(if > three coats) and resists dings from dropped tableware. Satin gives a softer sheen.

    Years ago Dad got an old Missouri Black Walnut tree trunk that had been in the neighbor's barn twenty years and had it sawed into 2"rough planks at a local mill. He built Mom a bedroom set.
    Recently we refinished it for our daughter. Took it down to bare wood, sanded out the cigarette burns & dings from forty years of use and grandchildren playing hot-wheels...

    We bought a $20 varnish brush . Gave it 5 coats sanded between with 600 paper. Stunning results.

    Tung oil is beautiful and won't darken in sunlight. But I like polyurethane's extra little bit of hardness for a surface that sees use.

    My two cents
     
  5. May 5, 2013 #4

    turbo

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    I am a fan of walnut oil.

    I visited a couple that I was friends with many years ago, and the lady was stressing about the scratches that their dog had left on a door (rental home). She thought that she would have to refinish the door until I asked her if she had some walnut-meat in the pantry. She did, and I rubbed the walnut meat over the scratches. I thought she might kiss me.
     
  6. May 5, 2013 #5

    AlephZero

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    I agree polyurethane varnish is probably the best "zero maintenance" solution, but you need to check if it will "take" on wood that has already been oiled.

    Taking an oiled walnut table back to "bare wood" isn't a job for the faint hearted! I don't know what American black walnut is like to work, but English walnut is both hard and brittle. And these days it's WAY too expensive to use for anything except veneer.

    A few years ago a relatve decided to get rid of an old walnut tree which was getting dangerous (they have a reputation for large branches snapping off without any warning). He was expecting a significant bill for taking down a very big tree, but got a shock when he found out how many thousand dollars the tree specialists were prepeared to pay him, for the wood!

    Personally I think you can get too obsessive about "damage". Just let it age naturally, and it will look fine in 100 years from now :smile:
     
  7. May 6, 2013 #6

    Monique

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    Yeah, I don't think it will take on an oiled surface.

    In my case I'm not too concerned with damage, if the wood damages I can sand it and give it a new finish. The tables do need a repellent surface, in order to be able to clean it. The open fiber structure of the coffee table annoys me, because it's not possible to run a cloth over it. It needs a good oiling :smile:
     
  8. May 6, 2013 #7

    marcusl

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    I'd stay away from vegetable/salad oils like walnut oil, because they turn rancid. Drying oils like linseed, tung, or the commercial furniture oils from Watco are much better. I don't think you'll get away from some kind of solvent smell until it cures, however.

    Cloth catching on the coffee table could have resulted from raised grain (this occurs if the surface is wetted by water or other liquids), or if the wood simply wasn't finished properly to start with. The solution is to sand with progressively finer papers until it's smooth. Then apply oil and you should be good.
     
  9. May 6, 2013 #8

    Monique

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    So solvents are required? :frown:

    It's an expensive table and I actually had the cabinet-maker service it at my home, because I wasn't satisfied with the finish. His solution was to sand it down further (I had already sanded it) and apply oil without removing the wood dust so that it could fill up the space between the fibers. I told him the dining table did have a smooth finish, which he shoved away by stating that the dining table already received more layers of oil and that the coffee table just needed a similar extended treatment.
     
  10. May 6, 2013 #9

    AlephZero

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    You probably won't get rid of that except by swapping the walnot for a different wood. That's just the way walnut trees grow.
     
  11. May 6, 2013 #10

    marcusl

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  12. May 7, 2013 #11

    Monique

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    As said, I have a dining table as well (240 cm/ 95 inch long) and it's perfect. I could drop porridge on it and wipe it clean with a dry cloth.

    To illustrate the problems I've had with the coffee table, see the attachment. Basically bare wood, when I oiled it everything seemed fine until it dried and all the cloth fibers showed up when the table was rubbed. Disaster :eek: that's when the furniture maker made a house call.

    Thanks everyone for the comments, they were very helpful.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. May 7, 2013 #12

    Evo

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    I had furniture with walnut inlays in a beautiful design and I sanded it down with very fine sandpaper, cleaned it well, stained it and finished with tung oil, never had a problem. But you have to go with the finest sandpaper you can get your hands on, and you will most likely need to restain, so you need to make sure the sanding is even over the entire exposed area.

    As was pointed out, never use vegetable or nut oils as they do go rancid and will get gummy, then you've just got a bigger mess on your hands.
     
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