Complete beginner needs help finishing spruce T & G

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24 Mar 2021
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Hi everyone,

I hope that some of you can help me out please. I am partway through converting a van into a camper. I am a complete beginner at all aspects of this, hence this is my first time working with wood!

We made a huge schoolboy error with our tongue and groove cladding. Well, we made a few. Firstly we bought from B&Q :poop: - in our defence, at the time we purchased the timber it was during the first lockdown and we just knew that they were open. We didn't really know much about proper wood merchants and timber yards at that point. Secondly, we'd read that Danish Oil is good to use on the wood as it protects as well as giving a bit of a finished look... :rolleyes:

Long story short, once we'd fixed the cladding to the ceiling and inside of the doors, we hated the orangey 70's esque / sauna look. At this point we should have just ripped it all out, repurchased and started again, but we'd had such bother with fixing it in due to all the curves in the van that we decided to seek another way. Through the internet we learnt that a random orbital sander would be the best way to remove the DO. So we purchased one and honestly spent weeks working our way through the grits and trying to get the wood back to it's original state. Now, I know that it'll never be what it was, due to the fact that DO penetrates through, not just on the surface, but we managed to get a reasonably good finish on most of the wood. Or so we thought.

Since all of this we have decided on Osmo Polyx Oil - one of the tinted options (Terra). I have been doing some test pieces on some offcuts but I'm not getting a very nice finish. I have been cleaning off between grits with a vacuum, and then wiped with white spirits. I tried some Osmo on some test pieces and it isn't taking evenly - I guess because it's such a porous softwood. So I started reading about wood conditioner. It seems that a lot of websites are geared towards products only available in America etc, but in all of this learning I heard that shellac thinned out can be used as a wood conditioner, to try and get an even finish.

I was going to get Zinsser Bullseye Seal Coat as this is marketed as a sealer that can be used as a wood conditioner on porous woods. The directions say to not thin out if using as a wood conditioner. It also says not to sand afterwards (which I would be very pleased about, as I really have had my fill of overhead sanding!), but to use a fine abrasive pad instead? If I apply one undiluted coat and use an abrasive pad, do I then need to vaccum or wipe down before I apply the Osmo tinted oil? Is there anything else I should consider or need to be aware of? Am I fighting a lost cause?!

This is the first time I have ever worked with wood and I made some mistakes but I have also learnt a lot! I am just really keen to make the best out of the bad situation I created and try to get a job that I can be proud of at the end.

Sorry for the incredibly long post. I hope you can make some sense out of it, and help me in my quest for turning a bad job into something reasonably acceptable :) Thank you!

P.S. I am very pleased to report that since the tongue & groove debacle we purchased timber from a local timber merchant and built a double bed for the van yesterday! Learning lots and it's great :D
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