Wooden plane finish (again)

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

steve355

Established Member
Joined
5 Oct 2020
Messages
495
Reaction score
524
Location
Herts
Hi

I have asked this question before, but I didn’t really come to a conclusive conclusion, so I’m going to try asking it again. I now have a substantial pile of moulding planes that require finishing. The reason I haven’t applied any finish, as I am being indecisive about the finish that I want to use. on earlier planes that I made, I simply use BLO. But they seem to get grimy very quickly, the grime is difficult clean off, and they don’t really have the kind of lustrous finish that I would like. So I need to choose something new and get it on these planes before they get dirty from being in my workshop.

Requirements…. Must look great, ideally wipe clean, must be a natural substance. I don’t want to put anything with “poly” in the ingredients on my planes. Hopefully will be quick to apply, not too messy, and will not require a “secret recipe”. It also needs to be something I’m going to stick with.

inspiration… From research into some of the well-known plane makers out there on the Internet do.

The historically traditional method is dump it in a bucket of BLO overnight. For a few extra shillings, they would give it a few coats of shellac. This isn’t a bad option, although it is time-consuming and messy.

Old Street Tools/MS Bickford use Min-Wax Antique Oil Finish, described as a “wiping varnish”, which a) isn’t available in the UK, and b) probably contains poly-something. There may be a UK equivalent. That might actually be good. Sounds like it is quick to apply, hasslefree, low maintenance.

Stavros Gakos uses BLO followed by several coats of an orange–flavoured shellac, which I guess is equivalent to button polish. I have tried this on various tools that I’ve made. It works pretty well, but it is messy, takes a long time, and they end up with this slightly “Donald Trump“ orange look, his planes are amazing though.

Caleb James uses a combination of Danish oil and BLO, followed by paste wax applied using a polissoir. He does get an amazing finish. I’m probably tending towards this at present. Although I’m not certain about Danish oil, whatever that is.

If anybody has any great ideas, you could help me to make the decision and get these planes (below) finished off.

Cheers
Steve

IMG_4485.jpeg
 
Hi

I have asked this question before, but I didn’t really come to a conclusive conclusion, so I’m going to try asking it again. I now have a substantial pile of moulding planes that require finishing.
I suspect you're over thinking the 'problem'.

Wiping varnish is, basically, an ordinary oil or spirit varnish that's been thinned with white spirits to the point where it's easy to manipulate with a rag. It's just that in North America manufacturers are happy to do this in a factory and sell the stuff in nice packaging through retailers for a good profit. Danish oil and teak oil are a form of wiping varnish, but these are basically wiping varnishes with a quite large proportion of boiled linseed oil and/or tung oil.

If you want to keep the wood pale you could use a bleached shellac (sometimes sold as white shellac) applied by brush or sprayed, or you could thin it with meths and wipe it on, two or three coats. Alternatively, apply a coat of boiled linseed oil, let it dry, then apply the shellac. The oil will darken the wood. Another option would be to apply one of the darker shellacs such as garnet shellac over bare wood to add colour.

None of what I've suggested are particularly time consuming, especially the shellac which is quick drying and the gloss can be left as is or knocked back with wire wool or abrasive pads, with, or without a bit of wax. Slainte.
 
Last edited:
I suspect you're over thinking the 'problem'.

Wiping varnish is, basically, an ordinary oil or spirit varnish that's been thinned with white spirits to the point where it's easy to manipulate with a rag. It's just that in North America manufacturers are happy to do this in a factory and sell the stuff in nice packaging through retailers for a good profit. Danish oil and teak oil are a form of wiping varnish, but these are basically wiping varnishes with a quite large proportion of boiled linseed oil and/or tung oil.

If you want to keep the wood pale you could use a bleached shellac (sometimes sold as white shellac) applied by brush or sprayed, or you could thin it with meths and wipe it on, two or three coats. Alternatively, apply a coat of boiled linseed oil, let it dry, then apply the shellac. The oil will darken the wood. Another option would be to apply one of the darker shellacs such as garnet shellac over bare wood to add colour.

None of what I've suggested are particularly time consuming, especially the shellac which is quick drying and the gloss can be left as is or knocked back with wire wood or abrasive pads, with, or without a bit of wax. Slainte.
Yes, the “problem” as you put it is I am being totally indecisive. Thanks for the info. If danish oil is effectively diluted linseed oil that would work.id just have to pick a good brand.

Here‘s a link to Caleb James’s page with his polissoir. Link

Its either that or the shellac. My experience of shellac is that it needs lots of coats and usually some sanding in between - which is fine but it is a bit time consuming.
 
Hi

I have asked this question before, but I didn’t really come to a conclusive conclusion, so I’m going to try asking it again. I now have a substantial pile of moulding planes that require finishing. The reason I haven’t applied any finish, as I am being indecisive about the finish that I want to use. on earlier planes that I made, I simply use BLO. But they seem to get grimy very quickly, the grime is difficult clean off, and they don’t really have the kind of lustrous finish that I would like. So I need to choose something new and get it on these planes before they get dirty from being in my workshop.

Requirements…. Must look great, ideally wipe clean, must be a natural substance. I don’t want to put anything with “poly” in the ingredients on my planes. Hopefully will be quick to apply, not too messy, and will not require a “secret recipe”. It also needs to be something I’m going to stick with.

inspiration… From research into some of the well-known plane makers out there on the Internet do.

The historically traditional method is dump it in a bucket of BLO overnight. For a few extra shillings, they would give it a few coats of shellac. This isn’t a bad option, although it is time-consuming and messy.

Old Street Tools/MS Bickford use Min-Wax Antique Oil Finish, described as a “wiping varnish”, which a) isn’t available in the UK, and b) probably contains poly-something. There may be a UK equivalent. That might actually be good. Sounds like it is quick to apply, hasslefree, low maintenance.

Stavros Gakos uses BLO followed by several coats of an orange–flavoured shellac, which I guess is equivalent to button polish. I have tried this on various tools that I’ve made. It works pretty well, but it is messy, takes a long time, and they end up with this slightly “Donald Trump“ orange look, his planes are amazing though.

Caleb James uses a combination of Danish oil and BLO, followed by paste wax applied using a polissoir. He does get an amazing finish. I’m probably tending towards this at present. Although I’m not certain about Danish oil, whatever that is.

If anybody has any great ideas, you could help me to make the decision and get these planes (below) finished off.

Cheers
Steve

View attachment 171348
Stavros now uses vacuum blo followed by 2 coats osmo
 
... If danish oil is effectively diluted linseed oil that would work.id just have to pick a good brand.

Its either that or the shellac. My experience of shellac is that it needs lots of coats and usually some sanding in between - which is fine but it is a bit time consuming.
Danish oil is not simply diluted linseed oil, and/or (perhaps) diluted tung oil. Danish oil, and similar oils, such as teak oil all include an oil such as boiled linseed oil and/or tung oil, a resin, e.g., alkyd, and a solvent (white spirit). There are usually, or perhaps always, other components included by the manufacturer to impart characteristics helpful for such things as storage, application, drying or curing, and protective qualities of the cured finish.

I wonder if you're applying the shellac in a manner similar to, or actually French polishing? That is relatively time consuming, I suppose. My preferred method for shellac is either a brush or a spray gun because it's quick and a couple of coats gives a decent finish, albeit not the sophistication of a French polished finish. Slainte.
 
Considered Rustin's "Plastic Coating"?
Dries clear, and in the right hands, gives an amazing finish....
 
I wonder if you're applying the shellac in a manner similar to, or actually French polishing? That is relatively time consuming, I suppose. My preferred method for shellac is either a brush or a spray gun because it's quick and a couple of coats gives a decent finish, albeit not the sophistication of a French polished finish. Slainte.
I have been, yes, with a mop, to get a really lovely finish, probably 10 coats! And with a mop, it’s a sticky business.
 
Stavros now uses vacuum blo followed by 2 coats osmo
I saw the latest video part 1 with the vacuum chamber and I thought that it might be a good idea but I don’t think Robert Wooding and John Moseley were doing that back in the day. Also I don’t have one, and if I had one it would be for investment casting.

I haven’t yet seen part 3 of that series but if he’s using osmo that’s interesting. He used The traditional French polishing technique with 8 coats applied with a mop. He probably got fed up with it in the end.
 
So my decision is that I’m going to dunk them in BLO then give a coat of paste wax, which I will apply with a polissoir when I can get hold of one or make one.

But, the problem is, whenever I apply BLO to anything, it looks terrible. It comes up all grubby. Is this because there was some grubbiness on the wood before I applied the BLO? so basically I have sealed in the grime? It’s extremely difficult with hand planes, because you need to test them and fettle them before they are ready for the finish.

Perhaps the best thing is the minute that the plane is finished in the sense that the main work is done, I put the finish on. or maybe I go over the whole thing with a card scraper before finishing. Although to be honest, I’ve tried that and it still very difficult to get absolutely everything off the wood.

And whenever I put BLO on end grain, it goes black.


IMG_4503.jpeg
IMG_4504.jpeg
 
For what it’s worth, if anyone’s interested, I did some experiments today with burnishing end grain to see if I could influence the uptake of the BLO. Results were pretty amazing, see below burnished vs in burnished end grain.

Then the further pic of a plane I carefully card-scraped and burnished before applying BLO warmed to 60C. The look of the grain flowing along the plane and across the toe is beginning to get there.

IMG_4506.jpeg
IMG_4508.jpeg
 

Latest posts

Back
Top