Building & Maintaining an oil / varnish finish

Building & Maintaining an oil / varnish finish

The finishing process is just as important as selecting the first piece of wood. My chairs and other pieces of furniture all have 4 coats of finish that has been hand-rubbed into the wood. I finish my pieces with a 3 part mixture of Boiled Linseed Oil, Raw Tung Oil and Varnish.  The oil in the mixture penetrates into the pores to bring out the color and character in the wood, while giving it great depth.  Nature is the true artist who am I to hide her beauty with stain…… To say the least I don't use stain!

Stain obscures the color, figure, and character, creating a bland, uniform feel and look.  I believe the unique features in nature is what makes each piece of furniture tell a story. I constantly find myself spending many hours selecting the right piece of wood for the job at hand and I would't have it any other way.

Once the first oil/varnish mixture is applied and wiped off it will then cure in the fibers of the wood, sealing and strengthening the surface over the next 48 hours. The next 3 coats applied every 24 hours then builds a thin film and develops the sheen.  What separates a great finish is the surface preperation. I spend more then half of the fabrication process preparing the surface, sanding, sanding and sanding!  Even though after the many hours of sanding I may not be in the best spirits the end result is always worth it. 

The oil finish is thin in comparison to a production lacquer finish, but you experience and enjoy the wood directly through look and feel.  Water left on the surface can make a spot so your due diligence is necessary to clean up any spills. To maintain a beautiful surface, oil finished furniture requires some love and attention.  Very little other maintenance is required.  I recommend an annual light coat of lemon oil.

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Below is a video of the application of my had rubbed oil/varnish finish, notice how it brings out the grain detail, rich colours and brings a depth to the wood.