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Finish for oak kitchen table top?

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I have a commission to make a table top out of oak for use in a kitchen. The top will sit on an old (French) elm table whose top is too small and thin for the owner's liking. OK, some people want different things, but they pay the bills! My problem is on the finishing...

The lady wants this to be a 'traditional' kitchen table which means it's going to get hammered and really well used, so that in a couple of years it looks about the same as the 100 year old base. I will distress the new top to give it a head start, but I'm looking for suggestions on finish. No varnish - it has to 'weather' after cleaning/scrubbing/etc..

My first thoughts are to use a fairly dark oak oil-based stain (spanish oak perhaps, although I may add a touch of danish walnut to darken it further) and then use either tung oil or danish oil for the finish. Second thoughts are a dark wax finish (Briwax for example), but I don't think it'll soak in enough to take the use it'll have to put up with and still look good.

Most importantly, the top will be used for food preparation, so anything toxic is out (including the tung oil?). Which leads to another issue around the toxicity of oak itself.... but that's not up for discussion as she wants oak.

I am hoping to use old stock of English oak that is already quite weathered and dark coloured, although the budget may only stretch to American white.

What do the team think? Fire away... :wink:
 

ike

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What about that 'Organoil' stuff that Axminster sell? I haven't ever used it but seem to remember it's non-toxic/safe for food prep surfaces.
 
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Organoil sounds interesting. I'll check it out.

By the way, we could make a fortune together as I've got lots of zeros..... :wink:
 

Shady

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I've used it on external iroko and teak, and wouldn't do so again. Gave a (to me) very unatural orange tint to the wood... May just have been the weathering, but I reverted to teak oil... It also stank of 'teatree' oil (that strong minty smell) - funnily enough, because one of the ingredients is teatree oil...

I'd look at standard danish oil. Worked in well, it's odour free and appropriate for the sort of finish you're after: then just some sort of wax on top when the oil's 'built' enough. Wet sanding the oil will fill some of the oak grain in a nice 'rustic' way. It's certainly pretty 'food safe' - particularly for a table, unless she's gonna be scoffing direct off the surface :D
 

Midnight

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Organoil's perfectly fine for an indoor application. As for toxicity... when did oak become toxic...??? The tannins in the wood are about as good an anti bacterial agent as you'll get... perfect for kitchen use...

On a side note, if Organoil's smell is a little overbearing, I've successfully neutralized it with a wipe on coat of Rustins liquid wax with added carnauba wax.. the combination of the oil / wax gave a nice warm / satin finish with minimal effort...
 

Alf

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Hmm... I wonder if Simon has any word on when the Tried and True stuff is going to be available from Mike Hancock? It did a pretty nice job on his oak table after all.

Incidentally, is tung oil toxic? I thought it was okay. Anyone got a tin they could read the back of?

Cheers, Alf
 

DaveL

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Alf":73dw90x4 said:
Incidentally, is tung oil toxic? I thought it was okay. Anyone got a tin they could read the back of?
Axminster Cat 2004":73dw90x4 said:
Tung Oil is natural, non-toxic and one of the most resilient finishes known
Therefore should be just right for the table top. :D
 

dedee

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You can see an oak table top finished with Patina (available from Screwfix) on my web site (under past projects - don't all rush at once or bandwidth will be exceeded)

It is as hard as nails, will take hot pans and drink spills without marking. But it will still allow the feel of the grain underneath.

Not sure about the food safe properties but as I cannot imagine anyone really using a table for a chopping board how food safe does it need to be?

Do a forum search for other opinions on Patina.
Andy
 

Philly

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Hi All,
As to the "tried and True"-spoke to Mike fropm Classic Hand Tools at the Yandles Show. He said he is waiting for a big delivery-the importer wants to send it over with a big batch of timber to save on shipping costs, so we are waiting for that ship to come in......
Looking forward to giving it a go, personally. If it's Chris Beksvoort favorite (or however the heck you spell his name :? ) then its good enough for me.....
regards
Philly :D
 
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Anonymous

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My container of tung oil (organic) says....

"CAUTION: Do not consume this product. If swallowed call a doctor, hospital or poison control clinic. Never transfer this product to unmarked food or beverage containers. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN"

Now, I can understand not drinking the stuff (it stinks anyway!), but that caution was enough for me to keep it away from anything to do with food.
 

SimonA

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Alf: Mikes just waiting for confirmation from the States before he'll give me the ok to post the review. I've had one thumbs up so far but had to add a little bit more to one area so I'm just on waiting time again!

Philly: Nice to see someone got in contact with Mike to see when the oils will be arriving. I've been itching to post the review and inform people as to the status of Mike stocking the oils.

These are really good easy to use finishes and like you say Philly if its good enough for Becksvoort then its good enough for me :p

SimonA
 

Alf

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SimonA":7zf3adwn said:
Alf: Mikes just waiting for confirmation from the States before he'll give me the ok to post the review.
Cool 8)

Brian, I wonder if there mightn't be a difference between the ill effects from the liquid oil and the cured finish?

Cheers, Alf
 

mudman

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White House Workshop":gzrpp2wb said:
My container of tung oil (organic) says....

"CAUTION: Do not consume this product. If swallowed call a doctor, hospital or poison control clinic. Never transfer this product to unmarked food or beverage containers. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN"

Now, I can understand not drinking the stuff (it stinks anyway!), but that caution was enough for me to keep it away from anything to do with food.
Isn't this true only while liquid?
That is, it is safe when it has been applied and then dried.
 
A

Anonymous

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I'm sure the issue of drinking the stuff only applies to the liquid, but I've always been a bit put off by the smell anyway - which takes an age to disperse - so I've never used it on food related items. That said, my teak outdoor table is well sealed with it!
 

bg

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When I bought some wooden bowls from a wood bowl tourist shop in New Zealand the chappy endeavouring to prise a few notes from my wallet (he succeeded :oops: ) told me keep then nice by the occasional application of vegetable oil. How about olive oil I asked. Just the job said he. I also seem to remember reading somewhere that wooden work tops should be give some vegetable oil from time to time. Don’t blame me if the oak table then resembles a well fried chip though :shock:
 

PitBull

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Greetings,

Most "Tung Oil" is actually a mixture of Tung Oil and some sort of varnish or hardener/drying agent - and it's the latter that are toxic.

Pure Tung Oil (as sold by Liberon) is utterly food safe and is recommended for food preparation areas (and smells much nicer too).
 

Sgian Dubh

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If as you say,

"The lady wants this to be a 'traditional' kitchen table ----hammered---- really well used, ---- No varnish - it has to 'weather' after cleaning/scrubbing/etc.."

then I'd consider going for a completely traditional finish with plenty of historically accurate precedents, i.e., the 'no-finish' finish.

This means simply planing, scraping and sanding to a satisfactory smoothness and delivering the piece to the client as is.

This is how many kitchen work tables of the 1800's were. After food preparation they were scrubbed down with hot water and a little salt and left to dry. Your client could do the same, and if the raised grain is a problem once the wood has dried just knock the fuzz down with a bit of 120-- 150 grit paper.

This way there is no polish, stain, wax, oil, etc., to deteriorate, and the wood will quickly develop a natural well used patina.

One caveat. It would be handy if the client places the table on a tiled floor, ha, ha. Slainte.
 
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