Yep, it's February, let the tough times begin. This time always begins the long slog until the end of winter, which, to me, is the start of syrup season.
I couldn't resist digging through the photos that I took last year and putting this one up as my desktop. Sue and I literally laughed with glee when we saw it on the screen.
I recently read an interesting post that Kari over at the Village Carpenter wrote about finishing. She addresses a number of different finish options for one of her projects and the conclusion put Tung oil at the rear of the pack. It got me thinking, because for a very specific application, I love the stuff.
When I started making chairs without painting them, I had all sorts of trouble keeping the parts clean. In chairmaking, there is a lot of part wrestling and once a little dirty oil gets on cherry, you're sunk. Plus, because I don't sand my turnings, I couldn't just sand away the offending smudges. So I started applying a coat of finish right on the lathe.
First, I used my normal varnish mix, which worked fine. But then I remembered that I had some pure raw Tung oil from the Real Milk Paint Company. I bought the stuff because it's completely nontoxic, no metallic dryers or spirits. It smells great, but to finish a chair with it would be a chore, because it doesn't build a film without rubbing and rubbing and rubbing.
Here's where the lathe comes in. By applying the oil to the spinning piece and then holding a cloth on it until I feel the heat (should I be worried about exploding?!), the oil builds a lovely finish that I'm able to keep clean for the rest of the process.
I'm no finishing expert, but I think that the heat helps the oil polymerize (which I believe is the job of the metallic dryers normally in boiled linseed oil and hardware store tung oil) and build a quicker, tougher finish.
As you can see below, the finish is lovely and highlights the woods natural character. I do still add more coats of oil/varnish when I finish the assembled chair, but it seems like it takes about 3 applications before the other chair parts catch up with the turnings.
It's even inspired me to dig out my old can of Tried and True non toxic Varnish oil finish to try on my chairs. I know that the rubbing is added labor, but on a well prepared surface, it's like a victory lap. Plus, I'd love to cut my exposure to the nasty stuff in the spar varnish as much as possible.
By the way, Kari, great post!