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Author Topic: Best finish for bringing out the charactor in elm?  (Read 4801 times)

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Offline cja07007

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Best finish for bringing out the charactor in elm?
« on: August 20, 2011, 11:42:16 pm »
Hey,

I am currently working on a coffee table I'm making out of an American Elm slab that I milled from a really big old tree that had finally died of Dutch Elm Disease.  I was wondering if I could get some help on what finish would really make the grain pop?  Its a nice piece taken from where a large branch met the log and has some really nice character. 

Thanks alot

Offline Radar67

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Re: Best finish for bringing out the charactor in elm?
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2011, 01:30:59 am »
Welcome to the forum.

I prefer a hand rubbed Tung oil finish for furniture. If it gets scratched, you can repair it with no problems. I have used it on burl mahogany, red cedar, oak, birdseye maple, and many others. You will be happy with the outcome.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Best finish for bringing out the charactor in elm?
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2011, 08:29:33 am »
Welcome cja07007, to the Forestry Forum.  Tell us a bit about yourself.

I use Formby's Tung Oil.  I have also used Minwax Tung Oil finish.  Same stuff I guess.
 

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Offline cja07007

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Re: Best finish for bringing out the charactor in elm?
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2011, 04:16:06 pm »
Thanks a lot.

I am a student studying forestry and also work for the school at the forestry department.   Some of the guys I work with and I got some nice slabs from a elm tree we milled and are having a little contest to see who can make the nicest table out of the materiel. The tung oil is what I'm going to go with as the finish.  I have never made any furniture what so ever so this is a learning experience so for but its turning out to be a lot of fun.  The wood is drying right now and I am going to start the construction on it in late September hopefully if the moisture content can get down. 
Thanks again,
Chris


Offline Magicman

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Re: Best finish for bringing out the charactor in elm?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2011, 05:21:19 pm »
You may use 600 grit after the first application is dry.  After that , I use 0000 steel wool.  The more coats you use, the "deeper" the finish gets.
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Offline Larry

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Re: Best finish for bringing out the charactor in elm?
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2011, 10:22:00 pm »
Used motor oil will pop the figure on that elm...course it might not be appropriate for a coffee table.

I use a lot of this stuff.



Mix a third of each.  If you want a little more water resistance go heavy on the varnish.  Brands not particularly important, I think I like Valspar better than Cabot.  I put it in a clean plastic glue bottle and squirt it on.  Rub in with a rag and wipe back off after about 15-20 minutes.  If ya wait too long it will get tacky and you will have to squirt a bit more on.  It will bleed back out, especially on open pore wood like oak so you will have to wipe it several more times or it will cause shiny spots.  Reapply every day until ya get 3-5 coats.

The disadvantages are it is extremely labor intensive.  Takes a long time to dry and stinks.  It does have some water resistance.  Just a tried and true oil finish.  I use it on hoe handles to furniture.

You mentioned coffee table which brings to mind coffee, water, and alcohol.  I might think about a tougher finish than oil.

Since Dodgy Loner did such a good job on another thread Iíll quote him.

Ed, that depends. Much of what is sold as "Tung Oil" is actually thinned polyurethane. If the can says something like "100% Tung Oil", then that's what it is. But if it says something like "Tung Oil Finish", then it's just a thinned polyurethane product. I would advise against using it on a floor, however, simply because you're not getting as much bang for your buck. You can buy plain old polyurethane, thin it 50% with mineral spirits and end up with the same thing (or at least something very similar).

I've used real tung oil in the past...it took forever to dry.

Tung Oil Finish is ok but you can do better by mixing your own, plus its cheaper.

Some manufactures would even use those same ingredients and call it Danish Oil.  I used to be a fan of Watco until I found I could do better.

If your really interested get a couple of books on finishing wood.  I'm not into it that much, but before a major project with a new finish I'll do a bit of reading.  More importantly I test my finish on a piece of scrap long before I'm ready to finish the actual project.
Larry

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Offline tyb525

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Re: Best finish for bringing out the charactor in elm?
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2011, 10:30:45 pm »
I rub two coats of formby's tung oil, then hand rub 2 or three coats of semi-gloss oil based polyurethane thinned down a tad. The tung pops the grain, the poly protects and really makes it look "deep".

I sand to 400 grit before the first coat of finish, then 600 grit on all coats after that, finishing the final coat by buffing with coarse, medium, and fine polishing wax.
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