I am half way though making a two-step table for my mother-inlaw. The wood I used was (honey?) locust. It is a heavy wood with grey/brown grain. It almost has a pink hue to it. The intended use for the table is for her jungle of plants or it would be a nice bedside bookshelf. I thought of using a light or even clear oil on it, as to not ruin the look of the wood. My question is this: has anyone ever used this wood before, and if so what did you finish it with? Should I use a varnish or more of a wax for the finish coat or just leave it be. I have little finishing experience with anything other than poly stain and varnish, so any info on technique would be great.
Thank you in advance for any help!!
I don't have any experience with locust. My 2 cents are:
-test any finish on some scrap first to see if you like the look
-this plant stand could get a lot of water on it, so you will likely want to use some sort of varnish to protect it from getting rings and other stains. If it will be in the sun a lot (because some plants need tons of sun!) consider a good quality spar varnish.
Locust is a very hearty wood, tough, resistant to rot. See [a href="http://diadot.com/wood/honeylocust.htm"]Honey locust[/a] for more info. The projects in which I've used locust were ones that needed a wood that could take substantial abuse from the elements, and I picked locust because I wouldn't have to put a finish on it.
For your application I'd use boiled tung oil, with a polyurethane top coat. I'd probably thin (with mineral spirits) my first application of tung oil to get better penetration. I'd probably follow the first coat of tung oil with two or three coats (full strength), waiting at least 24 hours between coats. Then after the final coat of tung oil has cured (4 days or more) I'd put one or two final coats of clear poly on. The boiled tung oil will polymerize which will give you a good strong protective finish. I've finished many tables with tung oil, and I think it is one of the best finishing materials available. The down side of tung oil is that it dries slow, and it requires many more applications to get the same build up you can get from other finishing products. For me to put 8 or ten coats on a table top is pretty much standard. I'll often put on twelve coats to get just that little bit more of depth in the finish. I'm guessing you don't want to spend two weeks or more finishing this table, so the short cut is to go to the polyurethane. And remember, greater numbers of thin applications are better than fewer numbers of thick ones.
Thank you both for some info. Now for another question. I was at a big box store last night and was looking at all the finishes and stumbled upon the Danish and tung oils. Before I got a chance to read the replies I went ahead and bought the Danish oil. The guy there said he really liked the Danish oil but didn't seem to know more than that. Is Danish oil similiar to tung oil, or are there differences in techniques when using them? BTW, this is a Christmas gift, so if it is possible to have it done by then it would be great, but my Mother-inlaw would not be "heartbroke" if she didn't get it on X-mas, I just want to do a good job. Thanks again.
Danish oil is a mixture of Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO), a varnish and mineral spirits. So, basically it is BLO plus a wiping varnish. I would wipe it on in thin coats, and it will look beautiful. It will cure much faster than a Tung oil finish.
Literally pouring on Danish and other oils is the way to go.
Wait 15-30 minutes and then wipe off the excess. The purpose is to get a full-penetration. The more coats, the better looking the finish. Wiping it on with 400-600 grit wet&dry paper will even be better. A coat a day. After coating, the piece should be left alone for a week, to cure. If desired, paste wax is a nice top coat.