Soap finish

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tibi

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Hello,

I am now working on building a small workbench (out of an ash table, that I have built as my first-ever project two years ago - I was not satisfied with it, so I am turing it to a toy workbench for my son).

I do not have enough ash, so I will use original ash for top and legs and oak for stretchers and aprons. I would like to try soap finish (which I have read that it is suitable for light coloured hardwoods and softwoods).

Can you tell me pros and cons of soap finish, its durability compared to BLO, how often it needs to be reapplied and if it is difficult to prepare?

Would it be also a good finish for dining table or coffee table or it is not suitable for furniture with a lot of wear surfaces?

Thank you.
 
My parents have a beech coffe table finished with soap, the colour is beautiful after more than 20 years and the patina is beautiful. But if you can't accept patina look elsewhere.

It reduces the friction so I don't think it is good for workbenches. Why not linseed oil? Just buy a quality linseed oil. Linseed oil should always be cold pressed and be prepared properly. Many cheap "boiled" linseed oils are not boiled, they just have a lot of additives to make the dry. The heat extraction also extracts a lot of stuff that doesn't help preserve the wood. So even if the oil is cheap you are paying for stuff that a serious manufacturer would discard as waste.
 
My parents have a beech coffe table finished with soap, the colour is beautiful after more than 20 years and the patina is beautiful. But if you can't accept patina look elsewhere.

It reduces the friction so I don't think it is good for workbenches. Why not linseed oil? Just buy a quality linseed oil. Linseed oil should always be cold pressed and be prepared properly. Many cheap "boiled" linseed oils are not boiled, they just have a lot of additives to make the dry. The heat extraction also extracts a lot of stuff that doesn't help preserve the wood. So even if the oil is cheap you are paying for stuff that a serious manufacturer would discard as waste.
Thanks Jorny,

I have boiled linseed oil at home and I have used it many times. The workbench will be a toy and my son will not produce anything real on it, so I do not worry about the top being slippery. By the time I allow him to touch anything sharp, he will be tall enough to use an adult bench - he is very tall for his age, so I assume that at 8-9 years old he will be a small adult. :)

I just wanted to test the soap finish on something that will not be inside the house, so I will evaluate if I like the look and then I may use the soap finish on the living room furniture and kitchen furniture that I intend to build later.
 
It's not difficult to prepare. I made some soap finish last year, it works OK (you can watch if you like, or not, it's up to you. That was my first time doing it, and takes no special equipment). It is used a lot in Scandinavia, but does need to be refreshed fairly regularly (not difficult to do, depending on how thick you make it). Buy natural soap flakes if you can. There are a few videos out there in English, but not many. It's sitting in a jar with my other finishes at the moment. I sometimes get asked to make things that will be used for massage, I'm sure they have a technical name, but I only ever get sent a design. The recipient didn't want BLO or shellac, so that was when I started with the soap finish. (it's a nice finish to use, takes a few coats to get looking OK, won't really pop grain like an oil or shellac, but does leave everything smelling nice.) Mine is quite thick so I tend to apply it by hand. Might be a fun activity for your son to do for the toy bench.

Not sure how useful it would be on a table, it would probably depend on how much use the table got, where it's sited etc. No reason not to give it a try though, it's a good excuse to make another small side table. (You can always chop the legs down and use it in the bathroom.)
 
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It's not difficult to prepare. I made some soap finish last year, it works OK (you can watch if you like, or not, it's up to you. That was my first time doing it, and takes no special equipment). It is used a lot in Scandinavia, but does need to be refreshed fairly regularly (not difficult to do, depending on how thick you make it). Buy natural soap flakes if you can. There are a few videos out there in English, but not many. It's sitting in a jar with my other finishes at the moment. I sometimes get asked to make things that will be used for massage, I'm sure they have a technical name, but I only ever get sent a design. The recipient didn't want BLO or shellac, so that was when I started with the soap finish. (it's a nice finish to use, takes a few coats to get looking OK, won't really pop grain like an oil or shellac, but does leave everything smelling nice.) Mine is quite thick so I tend to apply it by hand. Might be a fun activity for your son to do for the toy bench.

Not sure how useful it would be on a table, it would probably depend on how much use the table got, where it's sited etc. No reason not to give it a try though, it's a good excuse to make another small side table. (You can always chop the legs down and use it in the bathroom.)

Thank you Colin for your video. I will try to prepare it and see how much I like it.
 

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