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Danish Oil/Spray Polyurethane??

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  • Danish Oil/Spray Polyurethane??

    Looking for some advice.

    I've always enjoyed taking the time to produce a great finish - but am brand new to scrollwork and stumped on how best to do this on this kind of project.

    What I'd be hoping to achieve would be a smooth high lustre - not a hard gloss. The wood is walnut. Pictures of the project are below - taken today during a dry fit.

    With a bit of luck I'll be gluing over the next few days - so finishing should not be far away.

    At the moment I'm thinking of using a neutral danish oil followed by spray polyurethane (satin) then careful buffing and polishing of the outside surfaces.

    Am I on the right track? Advice?

    Many thanks,

    Attached Files

  • #2
    Jay ...
    I consulted with my finishing expert - my husband - to get some answers.

    First, if you are new to scrollwork, you did an EXCELLENT job with the piece you show in the photos.

    Looking at the photos, it appears that you are using cherry but I think I saw some lighter wood (maybe maple) accents in the second photo.

    My husband reminded me that danish oil, like tung oil, is a penetrating finish and thus it will go into the wood and bring out the grains and darken the piece immediately and over time - especially cherry. Polyurethane finishes are more surface finishes that you build up. Also polyurethane finishes (both spray and canned) come in oil based and water based so be sure to read your can's contents.

    I would hestitate to combine oil - like danish or tung oil -and water based poly on the same wood. You may have issues - always must try first - remember oil and water don't mix well in the kitchen, so...!

    You may or may not even need the polyurethane on the piece after the danish oil. And, if you have lighter pieces - like the maple - that you want to keep light, finish those separately with water based poly and then glue on with Weldbond glue. The Weldbond glue can be successfully used to glue together two pieces that have been finished.

    I can't wait to see the final piece. If you have more questions, I can run them by the expert!
    Proud user of Excalibur, RBI Hawk, & Delta


    • #3
      Thanks for the encouragement.

      The wood is walnut - the 4 accent pieces are maple.

      I've got a bit of an experiment on the go with some scrap pieces - one with neutral danish oil, one cherry flavoured danish oil, one tung oil and one has nothing on it except the polyurethane.

      I've just sprayed them all for the 3rd time with polyurethane (oil based).

      So far cherry flavour will be culled - the reddish tinge looks great on the darker portions of the walnut but is an awkward reddish colour on the lighter sections. The jury is still out on the rest - no real visible difference between the neutral danish and the tung oil - both look good and the one without any oil on it at all also looks good - just a bit lighter.

      I might be spraying a bit too light - after 3 coats there is still no real build-up of the poly-urethane showing yet - so I'm guessing a few coats to go yet.



      • #4
        Nice looking project!

        The biggest difference between the finish on scrollwork and that of other woodwork, such as furniture or cabinetry, is the application. The wood is the same and will react the same way to whatever finishing schedule you typically use.

        However, scrollwork, such as the project you showed, doesn't lend itself easily to the same methods of application that one typically uses for furniture, such as brushing or wiping. It's just too tough to get full and even coverage. Scrollers often dip their pieces in a finish, but that works best for smaller, flat items. A project, the size and shape of your carriage, makes dipping somewhat awkward and messy.

        When I make similar type items, my go to finish is shellac. I apply it with a gravity fed, HVLP spray gun. Depending on what kind of shellac you use, you can achieve the same grain enhancing, amber tint that a Danish oil provides. Shellac may be a little glossier than you prefer, but it's a different look than a high build gloss polyurethane. It's hard to explain, but it does look different. Shellac dries very hard, so you could rub the finish out to whatever sheen you want, but for delicate fretwork, this may not be practical.

        Shellac dries very quickly, so, in a relativey short time, you can hit the piece with multiple coats, from multiple angles in order to get full and even coverage, without the problem of excess buildup, puddling and runs that thicker, slower drying topoats experience. Personally, I don't care for the spray cans of shellac that are available at home centers. In my experience, it doesn't seem to atomize the shellac well enough to lay down a nice smooth finish, but that's just me. It may be worthwhile to experiment with it on some scrap to see if you like the look.

        Shellac is a wonderful, traditional finish. I rarely use anything else anymore, for 3 dimensional, fretwork projects. It's so easy to spray and clean up, plus if you get into mixing you own with flakes, you get the added benefit of being able to control the range of colors as well.

        Give it a try, I think you may like it.
        Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."


        • #5
          Thanks - I've added to my little experiment a piece using shellac (from an aerosol can) - never used shellac before so am anxious to see how it turns out.

          I'm beginning to feel much more confident that I'm at least in the ball park .....

          Thanks again.



          • #6
            Hello Jay

            Finishing is always the hard part! The main problem is that most finishes require buffing and with small intricate pieces of wood this can be difficult. I very often seal (with sander/sealer ) or oil (with Tung oil) and polish the piece of wood before I cut it. then there are only the edges to do at the end, with perhaps a minimum of polishing. This has saved many a breakage, I believe. I do not like a high shine on anything, so would use an oil or a matt polyutherathane varnish at the end.



            • #7
              Sometimes I use Danish oil on some of my duck calls and then apply a couple of coats of poly on top of the oil. I try to wait about a week or so before I apply the poly. Not sure why I wait so long, but it something I have done for years, I think a 24 hour wait would be enough.


              • #8
                So far - so good .....

                Thanks everyone for all your advice.

                The gluing up went well - for the most part - first time I've ever used that super glue (forget what it is called) - after gluing myself to the project a couple of times I developed a couple of precautionary procedures for handling the pieces ..... pretty straight-forward after that ..... interesting couple of lessons though .....

                Danish Oil is now on - and I've gotta say - it makes the wood look terrific - was easy to apply and get full coverage with a small bristle brush.

                After all my little experiments with finishing some scrap pieces I'm gonna stick with the spray polyurethane - but bump it up to a semi-gloss instead of a satin. I also seemed to notice quite a difference in the quality of the spray between "Minwax" and "Old Masters" - Minwax, at least to me, seems a much finer spray - more easily controlled - and a more even application - I didn't try any other brands of polyurethane. I did try some spray shellac and can see that it has some great potential - but I felt a little safer going with what has been tried and true for me in the past (at least when I used a brush).

                Anyway - so far so good - gonna let the oil dry for a couple days before starting with the polyurethane.

                A couple pictures attached with the Danish Oil on - in truth - the pictures don't do the wood justice - even without the final finishing the wood is looking great.

                Thanks again for all the advice.

                Attached Files
                Last edited by RangerJay; 04-20-2012, 04:11 PM.


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