26 September 2011

Recent Arrivals - 2 months 2 weeks 3 days

When last we left the intrepid SKS stock refinisher he was at the point where the stock had now gotten its proper oil finish.  There was far more even tonal qualities than at the start with the first Tung oil go-around and the actual deep tonal differences side to side, front to back and top to bottom had finally started to even out.  Only the grip area remained as a darker area and that is more from past use than actual wood tone differences.  As a polymerized oil is good against some chemicals but not so hot against water, it was time to put on finish that would start to address that problem.  This meant some older chemistry in the form of shellac with sandarac resin and a dollop of Venetian Turpentine to help give some flexibility to the shellac layer and cut its gloss just a bit.  As seen previously such a mixture applied to fresh wood without any oil on it gives a matte coating (and one of the best I've seen so far for these things).

I had thought that adding a bit of lamp black (soot or 'inletter's black') would help, but a test board proved out that you get a weak black coating that isn't opaque and that you really can't do much with.  Here the original matte is on the right and the blackened is on the left with one, single brush on coating.

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Unless this is your aim, don't do this.  If you are going for that 'wood that has been out in the sun for ages' look, then this is your solution.  A couple of coats of this and anything later should look like driftwood... you know that is very tempting as an alternative if you wanted someone to think you had a decrepit piece of wood and then demonstrate that it was as sounds as fresh wood...

But I digress, yet again.

Now on to the actual varnish put on the stock.

Right side:

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An attempt to get something without a flash artifact...

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Note reflected light from varnish.

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And on to the left side:

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To me this is a pretty glossy varnish, although not as glossy as the original shellac.  When applied over oil worked wood it is in no way matte in character.  With that said it is very hard to say that the appearance is that of one applied 'over' wood in that it doesn't have any great amount of depth to it as, say, a Browning Auto-5 clear coat has.  Yet it is not what most military users ever want in a color scheme as it is both too light and too glossy for what people consider for a gun stock.

This is, however, meeting a number of original criteria in showing up the actual beauty of the wood and retaining much of the original wood markings (including imperfections that were done at the arsenal or at the original manufacturing site).  It is also done utilizing what would be available in the 1950's in Yugoslavia (although searching around a bit for some of the items might make it a bit harder to do).  Here is how what has been done stack up against the original criteria at this point:

1)  This will sand down (with 400 grit or higher sandpaper at this point) and steel wool replacement or bronze wool will also knock it down.  Still high on the upside for finishing here.

2)  Dries in one day - All applications do that to-date.

3)  Must be able to take high temps near the barrel.  This is not a Mosin-Nagant (which, it has been quipped, should have had a finned barrel with a handguard under it) but an SKS in which most of the real high temp work isn't next to the wood.  All the inlet areas have an oil only finish, save where there is no actual receiver contact (the screw hole areas in the bottom and the front and rear of the stock for sealing purposes).

4) After steel wool replacement or bronze wool, I can add another finish over the spirit finish.

5) Visually appealing.  To me this is getting to be pretty nice for a total amateur's first time around with a gunstock.  I have, luckily, fooled around with other wood and am keeping to the KISS principle here.  Remember to 'Keep It Simple, Stupid'.

6)  Nothing fancy.  This is not only not fancy to this point, but something that could have been done in the 19th century.

7)  Need not match arsenal look.  It doesn't.  Anything over what I got is an improvement.

8)  Easily available materials in Yugoslavia circa 1950's or early 1960's.  In theory, yes, all of this to this point is available at that place at that time or with local substitutes.

9)  Low maintenance.  Unknown but the spirit varnish layer promises much of that if it has a final layer over it.

10) Hunting scent friendly.  So far, so good, but would need nothing more than what is normally done on a hunt to hide its scent.

Things that can be done to give a final finish to the stock to get to the putting the hardware back in:

- An oil varnish like a spar varnish.  Mix varnish with 1/3 Tung/BLO/Walnut oil and 1/3 Turpentine.  I'm looking for a nice matte varnish for this.  If going with a varnish that has polyurethane then #8 and possibly #6 are crossed off the list, which kills some variations like Waterlox if I read their ingredients correctly.  Something like one of the Tried And True finishes would keep things in the ballpark if you could get someone like an instrument maker to supply an oil varnish in Yugoslavia (which they did have at the time, just tough to get in the field).  If I could make my own without involving boiling oil but gently heating an oil, then I would consider doing that.  More research on the last is necessary.

- Oil coat.  Apply thin (1:1 with Citrus Solvent) for a quick coat and forget the glossy appearance.  Or apply straight which is quick, easy, adds some alcohol resistance to the varnish and use 400 grit sandpaper to knock down the gloss, as well.  Quick, easy, fun to do!

- Wax coat.  A nice, sturdy wax that goes on thin would do the job of adding a different solvent resistance to the stock.  This I can actually formulate my own with, yes, ingredients found in Yugoslavia at the period (if you can get waxed shellac and beeswax, then you can easily do this).

- Leave as-is, and do NOT use alcohol based gun cleaners (that means taking car with the old Backwoods formula of 1/3 Rubbing Alcohol, 1/3 Hydrogen Peroxide and 1/3 Murphy's Oil Soap mixture).  Actually this is an option if temperature resistance will hold up at the exhaust port holes. 

This is a different concern from the Mosin-Nagant that has a free floating barrel through the handguard area where the SKS has exhaust port holes for the piston that chambers the next round.  With the Mosin there is hot air build up in the space between the barrel and handguard with the wood serving as a buffer for the finish.  In the SKS the hot air is immediately exhausted out (in part) through the vents in the handguard with some intermix in the space between the handguard and the receiver.  That really needs something that can take that immediate hot air mix which mixes with warm air in the piston then cooler air next to the receiver during the forward stroke (pulling air in) and then on the backstroke (exhausting the air).  In theory that should be below the 140-180 degrees F. damage temps for shellac or shellac/resin.  In theory.  This is the old 'Theory and Practice Conundrum' rearing its head yet again.  With that said, the arsenal only expected naturally polymerized BLO to do the job, so shellac should be relatively safe.

Actually a clear-coat enamel was available in Yugoslavia at the time (actually that dates back to the late 19th century via alkyd paints if I'm reading my history right), so picking up a matte clear bottle of Testor's would do the job... and enamel hardens with heat... hmmmm... decisions, decisions...

25 September 2011

Recent Arrivals - 2 months 2 weeks

This week started with using steel wool replacement to knock back the prior application of BLO/Walnut/Cedar oil from the prior post.

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I was a bit surprised that this did start to lighten up the tonal qualities of the stock, overall, although not by a lot.

The left side of the stock:

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The left part of the stock is now getting to the point, here, where there is a darkening going forward from the butt end towards the fore end part of the stock, where it then lightens up a bit.

The right side of the stock:

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The right side of the stock suffers this more top to bottom and less so across the main line of the grain going from butt to fore end area.  That top rear part at the end of the inletting is just dark.  The actual hand grip area started to lighten up just a bit which gave me a clue as to what to do next.

Hand grips are the most handled part of a stock (naturally) and it gets the most impression from the user over time.  This tends to press the grain down and any oils that come from the users hand tends to stay in that area.  The upshot of it is that there is a burnishing effect (which I tried to remove with gentle sanding as the cartouche marks are there, also) along with darkening from skin oils (above and beyond any finish and what the cosmoline did).  I don't actually want to remove all of that as the rifle should show prior use, but I do want some of the actual grain to show through clearly.  This time the 0000 steel wool replacement was actually doing some of that, and my next course of action was clear.

What I did next was to apply straight BLO which was hand applied going with the grain to get an even coating across the stock and handguard.  After that came the 400 grit sandpaper and giving the darkest parts of the stock a going-over with it and along the grain.  There started to be some improvement at the grip area, and also in those areas that suffer from having darker tonal qualities (left/center part of the stock and right butt/bottom, top/inletting rear and fore/central).  This was done as the BLO was applied so that added BLO could be finger-dipped on to help smooth the sanding.  I paid a bit of attention to a couple of inlet areas that are rough (and will generally remain so)  and a couple of larger pore areas that haven't gotten sealed yet.

I let that sit for about an hour and a half before wiping off excess oil, then again at four hours before letting it sit overnight.  After that, I repeated the process with pure Tung oil to get a bit more of grain snap going on.  It was hand apply, sand, add more as needed, let sit for two hours, wipe, sit for another two hours, wipe, and let it dry overnight before the final morning wipe and going over with steel wool replacement.

Now for what it looks like after that process.

The right side of the stock:

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For the first time there is now a generally more even set of tonal qualities on the right hand side of the stock.  The butt/bottom is no longer so starkly different as it was at the start of the process.  While the upper part at the end of the inletting is still darker, it is now within a set of tones that looks like it actually belongs to the same wood as the rest of the stock.  There is a bit of darkening in the fore end area, but again it is no longer a stark contrast.

The left side of the stock:

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That last picture still shows the problem with the grip area, just at the neck of the stock transition, but it is nowhere near as bad as it was.  The stark ring grain at the butt/bottom is still darker but now helping to balance the overall tone of the area.  And while the forward part of the stock is still darker it is a gradual blend from butt to fore end with one part of the grain slightly lighter heading towards the forward grip area.

The handguard remains slightly lighter than the rest of the stock, and the shellac layer still offers a high reflective value.

During today's rub down I noticed that there were shiny flecks of what is oil that would come to the surface after rubbing down a section of the stock.  Easily wiped away and I utilized a bit of Citrus Solvent on a rag (no more than a drop or two on the rag at one time) to wipe over those areas and then wipe them dry.  This is an indicator that the wood has about all it can take of oils and that what is on there needs to actually polymerize.  In other words that is the end of the oil on wood part of the process.

Now for the fun part.

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These are two home made spirit varnishes that I whipped up over the last week or two.  The top is a mixture of shellac, sandarac, colophony (pine resin), dragon's blood, alcohol and Venetian turpentine.  It is the reddish area on the top board and you can see where it has some one coating areas around the main, darker area which is two coats of it.  The total drying time, per coat, is about 2 minutes, which is about what it takes for a quick application of 1 lb. cut shellac to dry.  The shellac I used is 1 lb. cut of Platina/Light Button Lac, which I had removed the wax from.  The dragon's blood gives a near cherry red appearance to the varnish and is from a 19th century recipe.  If you ever wondered how great-granddad ever got that cherry look to oak, now you know.

Below that is a coated area between the pencil line and the saw-tooth end of the board.  It has had one coat.

The angle on the boards for lighting should highlight it.

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Now without trying to show up the gloss.

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No?

You do notice how in the last picture there is some darkening of the grain and in the center one there is just a bit of yellow hue to the covered area, right?

What is that stuff that leaves a matte and slightly yellow cast to the wood?

That is the same 1 lb. cut of shellac, with a proportion of sandarac and Venetian Turpentine to it.  It is called 'Gun Stock Varnish'.  And it dries faster than the red stuff.  Close to 30 seconds, actually.

Shellac is one of those coatings that is put on by evaporation (of alcohol in this case) and usually leaves a nice luster to it, and it takes easily to being buffed out with very light abrasives (light grades of pumice or rottenstone).  Shellac is the perfect sanding coat as it sands well, fills in the pore spaces, and easily takes on other varnishes or oil in that sanded state (or abraded state with steel wool replacement or bronze wool).  It is resistant to water, other resins, stuff like acetone or mineral spirits, and is just about the only thing you can apply to the cut end of sap laden pine that will keep the resin in.  I prefer making mine with zero additives from a manufacturer and get the flakes to make my own from a few places.  The Mosin-Nagant has garnet shellac as its coating: the only oil is cosmoline that it gets from the arsenal when stored.  Oils can get through it (as the amount of cosmoline on a well used Mosin-Nagant stock can attest to) which allows oil finishes to actually do a bonding with the wood and the shellac layer, both.

Downsides of shellac are: it dissolves in alcohol, discolors when heated (which turns it gray), it is a bit brittle and scratches pretty easily.  Anything finished with shellac needs something on it (usually wax if you are doing it as a final coat) which is then puts a different layer of protection on the wood.

So if you could start to eliminate the defects by adding other ingredients, you would get a sturdier finish, due to the way the shellac changes its state as it dries.  That means that alcohol soluble resins can be tried to change many of the negative qualities of shellac while retaining the positive ones.  As mentioned above, sandarac resin is one of those that helps to make the shellac a bit less brittle and a bit more flexible, which reduces its ability to be scratched.  Venetian Turpentine is a resin based turpentine (that is it has resin dissolved in it) and it has a lovely texture and color of honey... it even smells nice, though you wouldn't want to eat it... which means it is both a solvent for oils and it helps to add more plastic qualities to alcohol based resin mixtures as it will dissolve into them, too.  Common pine resin (or rosin) is what you get in little pouches that pitchers in baseball use.  Or you can find some older pine trees that have it already excreted for you if you have a forest of them nearby.  That stuff is called colophony and it adds gloss to resin mixtures.  Lots of gloss.

Now, having a spirit varnish that is resistant to some pretty nasty chemicals, save alcohol, and that is just a bit flexible enough not to chip off or scratch easily is a real nice concept for a gun stock.  A matte finish is also highly desirable and the slightly yellow cast can be varied by either using different shellacs (blond, orange, garnet, or one of the button lacs) means you can do a lovely bit of grain popping with Tung oil or BLO in a few layers and then matte that down with a couple of layers of spirit varnish and then finish up with either another oil coat, a polyurethane varnish, or a wax coat.  The fact that there are all sorts of alcohol soluble tints available is a huge plus to getting a lovely finish using something like Platina or Super Blond shellac as a base.

This now brings up the handguard, which has a shellac layer to it.  Nice and shiny, isn't it?  And lighter, too...

There is one other minor ingredient that one violin maker pointed out must be in all early industrial age finishes as they were made in the early industrial age.  That ingredient you would get in any decent sized city or town and isn't horse dung.  It is the sure way to start adding just a bit of darkness and reflectivity changes to any finish.  The stuff is lamp black, also called soot, known to the gun stock maker's community as 'inletter's black'.  The quantities are small, yes, less than a teaspoon per gallon, but many companies went to their outside walls to scrape the stuff off and use it as it had that price of 'free' to it (save for the lung conditions of the era which was a hidden cost).  Now if I had to darken up the tonal qualities of the handguard, I would add just a pinch to some spirit varnish and put that on...

So far I have only used 20th century equivalents for mixing, painting, wiping and storing chemicals and equipment for finish application on the gunstock.  There is no polyurethane in any of what I have put on.  Not even an alkyd pigment or dye.  Citrus Solvent is taking the place of turpentine, and they do work the same for thinning oils and drying them, and neither becomes a part of the finish (save Venetian Turpentine which has been around for thousands of years).

If you were stuck out in the boonies of Yugoslavia in the 1950's the hardest thing to get would be the shellac... or the alcohol given its consumption in the region.  BLO is known and common.  Tung oil less common, but known.  Venetian Turpentine can be made and if you have horses, then you already have it.  Lamp black you have with any candle.  Walnut oil might be scarce, but it is used for cooking.  Cedar oil very hard to get, but not unknown especially since you have a ready equivalent from the forests there.  Sandpaper might be hard to get at 400 grit, but all the way up to 220 grit you would be OK.  Steel wool or bronze wool would be available (hey, you need that stuff for gun CLEANING).  For a fit and healthy young adult this process would not take months but at most two weeks, and you could cut back on that to a week if you had any idea what you were doing (or if your company armorer had a clue).  Sandarac is the hardest thing on the list of ingredients so far outside of the shellac and/or alcohol ('You want to use your Slivovitz to do what, now?').  The only thing I haven't really hit on is a great, final coating, but could easily use Tung oil or Walnut oil for that.

In other words: you can do it ALL on your own with a bit of knowledge and time to experiment.  The time may be hard to come by, but the knowledge and experience is priceless.

23 September 2011

Just a few quick thoughts on the GOP 'debate' last night

First I didn't watch it all the way through.  I had some things needing to be done and got through some of the first half-hour and then the last half-hour and have done a bit of reviewing of the 'talking points' put up at other sites.

It wasn't pretty, that's for sure.

My basic complaint about the 'debates' is that they are not helping to educate voters but get out talking points by candidates.  Some of that does help to illuminate what a candidate believes, but there is often a stark contrast between their record, their prior works and what they are now running on so as to leave the viewer a bit at sea about exactly what a candidate stands for.  This TV format is dated, decrepit and essentially worthless in the modern age as no single question can illuminate a candidate while a single one can sink them.  That is not fair to the audience, the electorate and the body politic as a whole.  A single bad utterance, a single 'gotchya' and that could be the doom of a candidate who has worthy ideas in other realms but is out on a far limb on one or two topics.  Without a more in-depth discussions (not a debate, but a discussion) the electorate is ill-served and the media is well served to become power brokers.  That is how they see their function up until 2010: being that decisive 5 point swing for or against a candidate.

At the early stages a different form of discussion would provide a lot more interest, some illumination of individuals and offer a setting whereby the candidates are not about talking points but explaining their points of view.

The best format for this sort of thing I have ever seen on media are the Fred W. Friendly seminars or programs, hosted by the late Mr. Friendly.  He was able to bring a diverse group of people in on a subject (be it on the economy, foreign affairs, or social programs) and lead an actual discussion amongst a group of individuals that ranged from politicians and policy wonks to industry analysts and corporate heads, plus a smattering of 'experts' to help keep things going.  The questioning by Mr. Friendly was challenging, at times, but served as a basis to help examine differences between perceived political policy and actual effects and outcome.  Even on those topics that were non-political, he always served as the intermediary for a discussion so that the audience was served by having a wide array of ideas and idea-makers present to create an understanding of what it was they were saying.

There are very few trusted figures with as good a staff and knowledge as Mr. Friendly today, and fewer still that are trusted as being open and transparent about what they believe and yet to challenge themselves and their own beliefs in front of the public.  No hollywood star or even most of the modern news presenters can do that, today.  Perhaps Chris Wallace, Britt Hume or Juan Williams (I've seen him put bias aside to be fair on programs, so think he could do this and well) from FNC, but he would need a lot of help getting trusted individuals into a Presidential mix to help move discussions along.  Most of the weekend shows and roundtables are too media oriented to do much of any good, and the idea is to find someone who is unbiased and doesn't care about THEIR media image but in leading a discussion.

A major point of such discussions, say in a 2 hour format, would be to have the candidates interact with policy and industry specialists on a topic or set of topics, and keep track of what the candidates can come to agreement upon.  The last half-hour would be to let the candidates work out a party platform plank that they can ALL agree to run on.  It would be made in PUBLIC, not behind closed doors, and while an audience may be present as observers, they are not participants unless the experts would like to bin some questions on topics so that a few might serve as discussion points.

What this would do is two-fold:

1) It would identify and illuminate commonalities of what needs to be done not just by the President of the US but by political parties.  Having a party committee or set of small voting blocks run the platform process is incestuous in nature and needs to be out in the open.  Also it would REMOVE those areas from any future 'debates' and winnow things down to the major DIFFERENCES between the candidates.  It creates 'common ground' based on the best ideas that every candidate can agree to.

Last night the only good thing to come out of the 'debates' was the essential feeling that there needs to be a major reduction in the size, scope and power of the federal government starting with the EPA, Dept. of Education, and then Dept. of Energy and those parts of Interior dealing with energy.  Can we get that as a common platform plank for all the candidates so that the only differences are those candidates who JUST want to do that and those who want to get rid of MORE government?

2) You may or may not like a candidate in all areas, and this would help to show why you agree/disagree with a candidate as they would have time on an essential topic to outline their ideas.  What it also does, however, is let those candidates with some very good ideas present them and talk about them which may preserve their good ideas even if they drop out as a candidate.  Frankly I like a few things Ron Paul says and agrees with, as I do Rick Santorum and even John Huntsman who I generally disagree with, has some valid ideas on taxation and the economy that need to be explored.  You can't do that in a 'debate' setting and, frankly, even the so-called 'top tier' candidates are not shining in areas  that are making them lose votes and possibly voters.

I disagree with Rick Perry's stance on illegals, and the general good feelings Mitt Romney has towards just tinkering with a fundamentally broken system of government (where is Chainsaw Al Dunlap when you need him?), as well as Herman Cain's idea of a 'National Sales Tax' which is something that if it could have been done it WOULD have been done by Progressives decades ago as they love new ways to tax people which means it is constitutionally suspect to PROGRESSIVES.  That says a lot, right there.  Those are just ready examples, mind you, but they are indicative of the entire field in which a candidate can bring some valid ideas to the table and then, as they are forced to get a whole array of answers down pat, are put on a spotlight and expected to answer any question on anything.  Yet where there is common ground, there should be no more questions: the answers are known and when they are common to ALL the candidates, then they become something KNOWN to the population as a whole.

 

As a citizen I am ill-served by the current 'debate' format and venue as it places too much emphasis on the media, gotchya questions, and some cat fighting verbal by-play that raises vitriol and distrust of any candidate taking part in such and the media asking such questions.  In these long months long before a Primary, the candidates could serve themselves, each other and the general public by driving out their major points and coming to agreement about major policy needs that they will all agree to go forward with no matter WHO wins the election.  Indeed they are expected to help, advise and move these points forward even if one or ALL of them lose.  That would help the Congressional delegates to also understand that if they don't run on THIS platform, then they really don't belong in the party and that when they take office they are not only expected to push the platform forward but they can ask for HELP in doing that. 

Yes some 'popular' politicians might be forced to leave by having their party credentials pulled, and flee to 'the other party': but do you really want a spineless blob Upon the Hill as YOUR Representative or Senator?  Because your vote for a candidate from a party should MEAN something beyond the individuals involved.  Even if you generally didn't LIKE a candidate but they AGREE to push these major items forward, you might just reconsider voting on one or two issues and see if the entire platform is a better fit for you even if it DOESN'T contain your one or two issues you care about.

The 'debate'?  Some up, some down, lots of smoke, little illumination and no real help for the Nation or its citizens to understand the future that we will build together as citizens.  And, strangely, if we can't find candidates individuals who can begin to understand their role as our representatives in government, now, then we will be ill-served in that future and even lose out on a major portion of it because political parties with campaigns and their drift towards being glib and not offering insights into our future well being are an awful way to run a Nation or express the will of the people.

This 20th century format and set of ideas must go in the 21st as the new century is presenting us with the tools to empower the individual to build a future unlike any dreamt of even 30 years ago.  It is not the government that is of the horse and buggy era, but our political parties and their foundations, and it is showing badly in this modern age.  And if they don't start to adapt NOW then in 50 years they will not be here as the people will find a better way to do things that makes the idea of 'gatekeepers', 'debates' and even 'campaigns' meaningless.  And as my predictions on the out years seem to come true much, much, much faster than I ever expect them to, I am having to prepare to see that future within my life time and not too far down the road.  That 50 years is a PESSEMISTIC OUTLOOK but the roads all lead away from our current media and party system and nothing they do will hold it together much longer.

We are entering a Dawn of a  New Era and it will whipsaw you if you don't prepare for it NOW because it is happening NOW.

19 September 2011

Recent Arrivals - 2 months 1 week 3 days

Onwards with the SKS stock finishing, and it is getting to the home stretch!

When last we left the last Tung oil coat was doing its thing and it was decision time on what to do next.

Some Dr. Science observations on the utilization of Cedar oil allowed the observation that it helps to increase contrast, decrease tonal shifts and reduces drying time of normal oils used for finishing (Tung, BLO and Walnut).  A revisit to previously used boards with Cedar oil mixtures has demonstrated that almost all of the aromatic parts of the oil have disappeared after 2 weeks.  At most a slight earthy smell has been left that comes from the oil, itself.

I haven't been that satisfied with the contrast on the forward part of the stock, but that is due to the underlying wood having grain with lots of ring artifacts that intersperse into the inter-ring area.  Bleaching with oxalic acid demonstrated that these are not introduced by outside artifacts (such as steel wool embedded in the wood from a previous finish) but are actual color and tonal qualities of the wood itself.  While it is possible to actually bleach the entire stock to get rid of those natural colorants (mostly tannic acid with some wood resins), I am generally against that for a gunstock as no arsenal would take that sort of care to do that unless it was done to every rifle going through it, and its an added step that is for a military rifle, not a hunting rifle.  That and some of the abrasions and abuse suffered while in use have been left as-is with only some sanding done to smooth over rough areas and a bit of glue mixed with wood dust to fill in a one minor surface crack and smooth over a part of the handguard.  So far the only attempt at shifting color was done on the handguard with a two layers of shellac after the initial sanding coat and first coat with Walnut oil, and on the arsenal number area of the butt part of the stock to darken that a bit via using a quick brush-on of Walnut oil over applied Tung oil.  After putting an oil coat over the shellac (Tung oil), both the handguard and stock were ready for a primary coat.

After hemming and hawing I decided on a BLO/Walnut oil/Cedar oil equal proportion mix with no solvent, just straight oil.  Using 3.5ml of each oil mixed together in a stainless steel cup using an acid brush I applied that over the handguard and stock, itself.  After 45 minutes I wiped off the excess oil, let it sit for 4 hours and then wiped it down again and let it sit overnight for drying and a final wipe-down.

Here are where things stand and the ambient lighting required the use of the flash for a number of pictures.  Way down on the list of 'things I should really make in my copious spare time' is a lightbox.  Needless to say it is not a front-burner project.

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No flash on this one!

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Lots of flash reflection here.

Light coming in from outside does make a difference and clouds started to darken up in the few minutes between pictures.

With that said the top picture shows a far more even set of tonal changes from the rear going to the grip area.  This is nearly matched by the upper part of the other side in the lower picture, and there is a nice set of gradations going light to dark to light over the top of the butt portion of the stock and going to dark then much darker to dark along the bottom.  It now looks like the wood on the left side of the butt stock actually is a continuation of the tonal qualities coming in from the right.

Notice that the arsenal numbers are nice and dark and in high contrast to the rest of the wood around it.  That is the Cedar oil at work with the previous Walnut oil that I only lightly rubbed over in that area.  In fact the heaviest areas of rubbing with 0000 steel wool replacement has been on the forward part of the stock with some actual 400 grit sanding up there.  It is a nearly vain attempt to deal with the wood grain as it gets so dense in color with all the darker brown and even black specks that there isn't much contrast to begin with.

Now a few other close-ups.

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The left part of the butt end of the stock. Numbers are looking good and the stark tonal differences from the grip to the end of the stock are a bit more gradual.  I concentrated on rubbing steel wool replacement along the grain over that neck transition above the grip, and its having some effect.

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With flash but with less glare.  On the forward part of the stock, not much can be done particularly through here.  It isn't tight grain, but the growth rings aren't well defined with some specks of bark captured throughout.  The handguard with its Walnut and shellac treatments has darkened a bit and now BLO/Walnut/Cedar have actually lightened it a bit.  Some gloss is coming from the underlying shellac, which I did rub down.  It is still much better than it was and looks like it actually came from the same tree wood, not one two counties over.

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This left side has been a PITA to work with.  The flash is making it look lighter than it really is.  With that said it is seeing some effects from the Cedar oil with the grain a bit better defined.

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Right side, excuse the glare.  If I have been working to darken the tonal qualities on the left part of the butt end, then on the right I have been working to lighten them and show the grain a bit better.  When it came in this was a uniformly dark, mess that might have been wood if you looked at it right, through the cosmoline.  The cosmoline hid a wealth of problems with the underlying finish, what there was of it, and trying to deal with the problems (not just cover them over) has been a pain and a joy.  The butt end of the stock is turning out to be a real pleasure to work with with relatively well defined grain.  Even with the tonal problems of the stock due to the cut angle in the wood (usually done at 7.5 degrees when cut for the arsenal) just catching the grain where it is opening up, this part has yielded the most to hard labor, sanding, and applying finish so as to help even out tone while popping out the grain visually.  Almost makes me want to go into stock making, but I don't have a lathe and I have very little chisel experience, as yet.

Recent_Arrivals_19SEP2011_ 006

For all the glare, the flash does help to point out the problems with the wood grain: it is dark, has flecks interspersed in the growth areas, and that causes a darker tonal quality throughout the main portion of the stock.  Still I have assiduously worked first sandpaper and steel wool replacement to lighten this area up a bit.  It is better than the left side of the stock is for this, that's for sure, but no great shakes.  I'm starting to think the tree this came from had a pretty rough life given the condition of the growth ring areas.

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And sometimes the flash is absolutely useless.

There is some nice grain in the wood here... even while still having the other problems previously mentioned.

At this point I am no longer that worried about the use of an aromatic oil as the volatiles from it leave the oil very quickly.  The entire thing needs another day to let the last application cure, however and then it is either a colorant coat to add some red into the deal (probably a spirit varnish) or just say 'the hell with it' do a light bit with steel wool replacement and put on Waterlox and be done with it.  I don't think another oil coat will get me much more than what is currently here or magically lighten the front part of the stock.  A shellac colorant layer (aka spirit varnish in one form or another) would increase gloss and then need a final finish layer unless I add something to the shellac. 

I am getting into that realm of things and whipping up my first batch of spirit varnish with platina/light button lac with colophony, sandarac and dragon's blood, plus a dollop of Venetian Turpentine, but that is to get a faux cherry look.  I might substitute garnet shellac and remove the dragon's blood, which ought to do it, but that will take time to test and experiment with. Spirit varnishes are pretty easy to work with and I need to get a supply of either anhydrous ethyl alcohol or have a family member ship in a case of Everclear for me at 190 proof.

An oil finish is very easy to apply, user friendly with Citrus Solvent, and teaches a lot about how to use it if you are willing to dabble a bit.  Every oil varnish recipe I have looked at has the words 'boiling oil' attached to them.  Fun, fun, fun!

17 September 2011

Recent Arrivals - 2 months 1 week

After playing Dr. Science for a bit I decided that the best way to move forward with the SKS gunstock was to start the actual application of the finish.  As I want to leave my options open I decided on a basic Tung oil sanding coat and then a next sealer coat of Tung oil for the main part of the stock.  The handguard needed a bit more than that, however, as the wood it is composed of is very much lighter than that of the rest of the stock.

The procedure I used for that was to apply a basic Tung oil application (at 1:1) with solvent go through a 45 minute set and then wipe process, then another wipe down 4 hours later and then let sit overnight.  This is the wipe/wipe/cure process which will be used throughout for all oil applications.  I also did the entire gunstock with that (external and inlet areas), then sanded them down the next day with 400 grit sandpaper.  Unsatisfied with the tonal qualities of Tung oil on the handguard I then applied a Walnut oil finish to the handguard, compared it to the sanded stock and found it to still be much lighter than I wanted.

At that point I decided to fall back on my favorite of shellac and put on a 50/50 mix of 1lb cut orange/garnet shellac in two coats to the handguard and sanded between coats, let those dry to a very light amount of tackiness and then sanded down the second coat.  That did darken things up a bit and yesterday was the application of a second Tung oil over the handguard and gunstock, and did a brushing in of one loaded acid brush with Walnut oil on the left/rear portion of the butt part of the stock in the arsenal numbers area.  That went through the standard procedure and received a 0000 steel wool replacement work over along the grain and then some more 400 grit sanding in selected areas to lift some of the darkening that happens with oil layers.

This is the result:

Recent_Arrivals_17SEP2011_ 001

This is the side that received only two coats of Tung oil for the stock, the handguard is as described.

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On the shooter's side of the stock the rear of the gunstock is still lighter, but with somewhat more pronounced brown tones than it had previously.

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The underside of the stock and I've turned the handgaurd around, as well.  There are some lightly rough spots at the left edge of the inletting near the rear screw hole that I have left rough with but minor sanding.  I didn't feel it needed any putty treatment and shows wear on the wood, as does the butt end of the stock with minor chips missing from prior use in its former life.

Recent_Arrivals_17SEP2011_ 005

From the top of the stock one can see the tonal gradations front to rear a bit better on the non-shooter side of the stock.

The rubdown with steel wool replacement and light sanding to lift tonal qualities in dark areas of the stock also revealed a somewhat slick feel to the stock, meaning the oil needs a bit more curing time.  I will check it again in a couple of hours and then decide on what the final application(s) should be. 

Putting on my Dr. Science hat for a moment:

I am pleased with a separate test of 1:1:1 BLO:Walnut:Cedar as leaving a matte finish, toning down the yellows but increasing the contrast with the browns vs inter-grain areas of white wood.  Aromatic oils do help to thin down the other oils I used and decrease drying time and may actually speed the curing time by being aromatic.  Because of the aromatic nature, however, and the need for molecules to detach over time, it would not be safe to put on a finishing layer that did not allow such molecules to go through the coat.  Thus I wouldn't trust a spar varnish unless it had some proportion (at least 25%) of a Cedar oil in it if I applied the BLO/Walnut/Cedar mix to it.

Linspeed has fallen out due to the fact that it was nearly solid in the glass jar, which indicates it had sat in some exposure to air for a time and cold not be depended upon for a final finish.  It had progressed beyond oil to gel and solid, and there is no way to really reverse the chemical reaction once it has taken place.

I do have the Cabot Spar Varnish available and as it is a finish that flexes over time, may prove more suitable to a gunstock's final finish coat.  As I don't want to run a multi-month test to see how that reacts with Cedar oil or with Cedar oil mixed into it, I hold that in reserve as a possibility.

Note that if the Cedar oil does actually decrease cure time, then it will also help to cure previous applications of Tung oil via that process.  On my test board I used no solvent and the oils ran thin and fast at the 1:1:1 ratio, just as had happened in prior tests.  Adding 1 or 2 parts of Citrus Solvent would thin that even more, meaning less oil and better if thinner coverage.  For brushing purposes 1:1:1 is perfectly acceptable because of the low viscosity of both Walnut and Cedar oils.

A final way I might be able to darken the handguard is to add a tiny amount of lamp black (common soot) to the oil mix, which is a method a few violin makers have used to change the refractive index of their varnishes and help to absorb some light in some directions (due to the nature of soot it will not form a single angle alignment in a varnish or oil application) while reflecting it in others.

I have used shellac intermixed for non firearms purposes (like putting it on my router table) and have noted no problems with it.  As it forms an impermeable layer to the movement of water and other small molecules (say components of oil breaking off from the parent structure during curing) and has heat sensitivity problems, I used it sparingly on the handguard.  With that said Mosin-Nagant rifles I own have gotten far, far, far too hot to touch on the surface of their handguard pieces (I have gotten the blisters to prove that) and I know that cured shellac on wood surface is pretty tough stuff and not a wilting flower in the wood finishing department for firearms. It has not clouded or otherwise changed its clarity due to that amount of heat.  Intercoated between oil finish may be a different story and re-doing the handguard would be very much faster than doing the entire stock, that's for sure.

Shellac is very much not what is used on the SKS gunstock, but worth consideration if it can perform the necessary functions of protecting the stock as well as an oil based system.

One long, long, long term worry is that oils do react slowly with the underlying wood and while cases of wood softening are rare, they do happen.  If I  had to redo the stock I would actually aim for a shellac sanding coat of platina or platina/light button lac or blonde shellac as a base for the stock and garnet for the handguard.  After sanding could come the oil finishing which would allow the stock to have much of its wood protected by the shellac and perhaps allow a means for some lighter molecules to finish their reaction with their surroundings and not continue them.  With that said there are some really beautiful oil finished rifles from more than 130 years ago that show no wood degradation, so much depends upon the wood, the oil, the time, the environment in which the stock has been stored/used.

I am still, at this late date, undecided on the final top coat composition.

BLO is traditional and only changes color composition slowly over time. It is the oil used on SKS gunstocks when the arsenal remembers to finish them, that is... or allow the BLO to actually cure before placing them in cosmoline...

Tung oil has performed very well due to its being a bit lighter in viscosity than BLO and only does a minor hue shift to the yellow as compared to BLO.  It is not a traditional SKS oil, but looks good on beech wood more than 40 years old.

A mixture with Cedar oil promises some interesting components and may safeguard the stock against some longer-term biological attacks due to the nature of the oil.

Spar Varnishes are great for outdoor use and flex well with changes in climate, humidity and temperature so that the finish doesn't offer cracks to expose underlying work to the elements.

At this point it is a toss-up, but I can say that the stock does not look like Bubba had gotten to it.  For that I would look at some of those lovely chrome paints after basecoating with white, and then putting on a thick automotive clearcoat.... hmmmm.... shiny!

13 September 2011

Dr. Science plays with wood finishes - Part 3

Today's entry is about how changing wood media can change your perspective on what a finish does.  The board change-over to one with darker tonal qualities with different hue for the grain was proposed to offer a different perspective on what each oil and oil mixture would do.  As the gunstock I am about to finish has a variety of wood grain densities, getting something that would evenly enhance those tonal qualities and yet at the same time flatten them has been a hard thing to do.  Tung oil has a light yellow cast to it when dry, BLO has a deeper yellow cast to it at the same point and Walnut oil has a light brown cast to it.  Adding Cedar oil tends to dampen hue shifts, increase contrast, thin out the above oils and has an aromatic quality to it.  Unfortunately if what I have read of Cedar oil is correct, when used as a mixture with other oils, there is then the requirement to have a small amount of it in layers going over that layer.  This is not bad if going it alone with just the pure base oils, but if using something like a pre-mixed oil there will be a further need to experiment with that pre-mixed oil solution with Cedar oil.

On to the tests so the results of a large set of test applications can be seen.  The board used was the back of luan board (not the front, but the side with the dark brown and red grain).

Columns of application mimic that of the original tests, in that they each vary the oil to solvent proportions (Straight, 3:1, 2:1 and 1:1), and then go from the Straight oils on the left, to a 3:1 then 2:1 base oil with Cedar oil mixture, then a final set of four columns of Tung oil and BLO to Walnut and Cedar at 2:1:1 and 2:2:1.

There are many problems in doing such a test, not the least of which is that as oils get lower viscosity they tend to flow with the wood grain (normally a good thing).  I had left separating columns between the Straight and then Cedar admixture columns, but could not do that for the last Cedar admixture and base oil/Walnut oil/Cedar oil mixture.  Thus final analysis is done using a relatively small area within each box to determine shift in tonal qualities and grain popping.

Three pictures are taken to demonstrate the problem of how a simple shift in lighting angle changes what you see on the board.

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And then an attempt to get even lighting on the board:

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Due to the nature of the board it is very difficult to do measurements as a minor change in lighting direction changes the underlying reflectance of the wood structure, thus changing what can be perceived in each sub-test area.

Grain spacing varies widely across the board, which was desired, from nearly 35 grain lines per inch (of over 75% of grain doing an edge to edge crossing) to 12 glpi in the less dense areas.

As the grain coloration is red, it has shown great contrast enhancement even with straight BLO, unlike what the white wood tests would indicate.

Yet, for all that, the initial white wood tests hold firm in that straight BLO does add a distinctive yellow hue which also tends to flatten wood contrast.  Tung oil has a light yellow hue shift to it and adds only minimally to contrast enhancement.  While Walnut oil does add a brown hue to its test areas, they are hard to differentiate as the background inter-grain color is also a light red-brown.

These changes are very hard to discern on the board, however, and one must have a constant light source that is near to the board and magnifying glass when using 1.5" x 1.0" strips to apply finish to.  In particular the reflectance of the red grain tends to wash out minor tonal variations, which makes the sparseness of it in some sections of the board vital for examination.

The final variable area on the right of the board, broken down into four columns for the Walnut and Cedar oil admixtures, does indicate that even at a 2:1:1 set of ratios that the grain does darken moderately to the brown and has somewhat better contrast enhancement.  At 2:2:1 some of the contrast enhancement is lost and there is an overall darkening of the wood grain both in growth and inter-growth areas.

 

Conclusion:

This test is more confirmatory in nature and demonstrates that there is a fall-off of what Cedar oil can do for reducing gloss and increasing contrast while reducing the hue shift of other oils.  In all cases it does decrease the gloss of other oils, even at the least concentration (2:2:1) with other oils.  At that lowest concentration the hue shift of other oils starts to re-appear as a factor for consideration.

 

Overall Conclusions:

Finding a oil finish for beech gunstock with a variety of grain densities and tonal gradations across the stock is difficult to do.  While the most common gunstock finishing oil BLO is preferable for the look it brings to a gunstock, that is more via recent tradition and extreme ease of application than one of bringing out the natural qualities of the wood.  Once you begin to see military gunstocks from a wide variety of Nations, you begin to see that it is the oddballs that are not finished with BLO that appear out of place.  Yet with the Mosin-Nagants a simple change in growth area for the gunstock between Russia and Finland will mean a very stark contrast between the look of the gunstocks.  They are finished with shellac, not BLO, and thus have a better opportunity to show the character of the underlying wood than does BLO.

Testing relatively non-traditional oils for finishing demonstrates a better opportunity for bringing out characteristics in the wood that may then have a possibility to being visually more appealing while containing much of the flattening effect of BLO via later layers of finish.  The ability of Walnut oil to bring out the browns in wood grain is one that is both startling and pleasing, and it already has the start of the darker brown to red-brown seen in many military BLO finished gunstocks.  Tung oil, being less reactive and having a lower hue shift with it means that a base or sanding coat(s) will then modify the later final appearance to one that is lighter than normal BLO finished gunstocks.

Of particular surprise is the changes that Cedar oil brings to wood finishing.  Typically used on floors for a 'natural' looking finish, it brings very few changes to the hue of underlying wood when applied straight.  When mixed with other oils it does multiple things simultaneously: flattens the gloss, improves contrast and lightens hue shifts.  If used to make a hunting friendly firearm the utilization of Cedar oil at some level to all the finish coats requires a re-thinking of what the final characteristics of the gunstock will be.  It may be very hard to utilize Cedar oil to get its desired effects and get something close to a standard BLO or arsenal finish.  It is unknown what the effects would be of having a Cedar oil mixed topcoat on top of BLO or Tung oil coats would be, although surface adhesion should not be a problem what it will do with grain characteristics is problematical without finishing a full gunstock in that fashion.

From my initial set of parameters to examine results it is #5 of being visually appealing for beech wood that is key.  I do not mind a non-standard finish if it performs this function well as a sanding and/or base coat.  For this BLO cut with Cedar oil is preferable due to the ability to make grain pop, have high contrast and yet have a low gloss finish.  To completely finish that, however, means that #4 is impaired as once you start with Cedar oil you must either cut concentration per layer or risk having the next coat not properly adhere to it.  Aromatic oils are just that - they allow distinctive hydrocarbon chains to come off of their structure and that is something that further coats must allow.

Thus to retain #5 a relatively straight oil mixture must be used and that indicates Tung oil at 1:1 with solvent for sanding coat and inletting coat.  This dries quickly, is thin and otherwise can be easily sanded (that from experience).  At such a low concentration it does very little to shift tonal qualities, unlike BLO.  A 2:1 mixture can be used for a base coat or more of 1:1 for a thin base coat can also serve.  The first sanding coat will be sanded at 320 grit and then the base coat will be done at 400 grit.  All other coats will get a 600 grit sanding between applications.

After the sanding and base coats the major coats will either be BLO or the commercial article Linspeed.  The latter tends towards more of an arsenal or traditional finish color shift and darkening at a faster rate than does BLO.  As its name implies, it is faster drying than BLO which is a plus.  On the downside it is a commercial mixture with many unknowns involved if trying to modify it for use with other oils on application.

A hunting friendly coat can be applied last either as a Cedar admixture oil layer or mixing Cedar oil with a thinned wax.  A wax may be preferable as it can be re-applied as needed and removed in a relatively easy fashion if the Cedar oil scent is not wanted for storage or use elsewhere (at the range, say).

Some variation to this can happen if the need to bring out browns is needed between coats, and a thinned layer of walnut oil can be used for that.

 

Notes:

- Typical amounts used for application were in the 5ml range for oils, and adding solvent reduces viscosity.  A typical acid brush can hold 5ml easily but cannot coat four areas of 1.5" x 1.0" when only Straight oil with no solvent is used.  At all other ratios, 5-10ml of finish can easily coat that much, and at the high end there is plenty left over as the application fluid is so thin.

- Luan board is not a good substrate for testing finish types to examine tonal gradations.  Doing a comparison test piece examination over the board strains the eyes and counting the grain lines is a difficult process.

- Pipettes were failing during this test as the bulbs on many of them were breaking apart.  By the end of the test only one of the original four pipettes had survived the testing situation.  A bulkier pipette from a Testors paint kit was substituted and washed frequently.

- It is possible to get stainless steel cups squeaky clean.  This is required between each test set-up.

11 September 2011

10 September 2011

Dr. Science plays with wood finishes - Part 2

Today was the examination of results from yesterdays tests started with combination of oils for a first coat, sanding sealer finish for a beech wood gunstock.  The tests have been done on anonymous 'white wood' bought in 1x6 boards from the local Home Depot, and yesterday's tests gave some good indications on some general directions to go in this.  One of the minor points for the finish (making it woodland scent compatible) meant the utilization of Cedar oil as one of the finish types.  On its own, while having a nice aroma, it doesn't do much, but does leave a very thin finish on the wood.  From that the question of what happens when both Tung and Boiled Linseed Oil are mixed with Cedar oil was to be examined.  Also started was a new oil typically not used for modern gunstocks that will be presented a bit further on.

All methodology remains the same, save that both boards used for the test got a 2 hour blotting to get excess oil off of them, so that there wouldn't be any gumming as had happened with BLO in the previous test.

Two ratios of main oil to Cedar wood oil were done: 3:1 and 2:1.

Oil to solvent continues to be varied by: Straight oil mix, 3:1 oil to solvent, 2:1 and 1:1.

Lighting remains similar, which is poor.

Humidity has varied in a range between 40 and 60%, but temps have been constant around 70 F.

All other apparatus and items remain the same.

Now to the board:

Recent_Arrivals_10SEP2011_ 001

The top two rows are Tung oil and BLO with a 3:1 ratio to Cedar wood oil, and the bottom two are at 2:1 in the same order.

In the previous test BLO has not been applied to fine grain wood and that happened in this test in the 2:1 ratio, bottom row.

Now the straight and the mixture boards side by side:

Recent_Arrivals_10SEP2011_ 002

Some of the reflection off of the BLO middle row on the left is part of what the finish looks like.  It has a somewhat glossy finish when used straight with solvent.

This is in contrast to being mixed with Cedar oil at both 3:1 and 2:1 ratios.  There is less of the noticeable yellow cast from BLO in rows 2 and 4 on the right and the long, sparse wood grain is now clearly popping out visually.  Additionally the fine grain on the bottom shows that BLO mixed with Cedar wood oil improves definition and contrast of closely spaced wood grain without adding a yellowish cast to it (at 2:1).  BLO and Cedar wood oil seem like a very good mix of oils to gain high contrast in light woods while dulling the gloss of the finish.

Tung oil has behaved similarly in losing some of its cast from the finish and having a higher definition of difference between the light and dark colors of the wood grain.

What Cedar wood oil brings to both Tung and BLO is to increase contrast, decrease any yellowish cast to the finish and generally improve the color that is brought by the oils to the wood grain.  For percentages of 25% and 33% (1 part in 3 and 1 part in 2) this is fascinating.  Cedar wood oil is a contrasting agent, gloss flattener and reduces native oil viscosity of Tung and BLO, so that even when used straight it both oils flow easily off of the brush and not like syrup.

Next up is the third oil being used:

Recent_Arrivals_10SEP2011_ 003

This is Walnut oil used to finish salad bowls and some wooden eating utensils and has previously been used with cabinetry and even gunstocks before the modern era.  Here the test is with straight oil to solvent in the top row, 3:1 to cedar oil in the middle row and 2:1 in the last row.  The columns continue to be Straight (no solvent), 3:1 oil to solvent, 2:1 and 1:1.

Another shot to reduce some of the reflection on the finish:

Recent_Arrivals_10SEP2011_ 004

Walnut oil for this light wood is a different experience than either Tung or BLO as it introduces a deeper brown to the grain, while Tung brings a yellow-brown cast and BLO a yellow cast to it.  On both tight grain and widely spaced grain, Walnut oil has a deep effect on coloration and contrast when dried.  As with both BLO and Tung oil, Cedar wood oil brings a higher level of contrast when used with Walnut oil.  For light woods this is a very visually appealing finish at one coat, and it is food safe as well at least for the straight oil.

Now a comparison of Walnut oil to the other straight oil board, with the rows being Tung oil, BLO and Cedar wood oil.

Recent_Arrivals_10SEP2011_ 005

The browns brought out in Walnut oil are similar to that brought out by Tung oil, but without a very light yellow cast that Tung oil has.  The cast is, instead, light brown which tends to flatten contrast with Walnut oil even while making the grain appear deeper.  The starkest contrast is the 3:1 Walnut:Cedar blend and straight BLO with similar wood grain: where BLO does little to enhance the contrast and brings a distinctive yellow cast and gloss to the finish, the Walnut/Cedar mix deepens the browns and has a flatter gloss to it.  At the highest proportions of Cedar oil and solvent (at the lower right) Walnut oil is losing some of the stark popping of the grain as seen in all other parts of the Walnut treated board but still compares favorably to straight Tung oil at high solvent mixture (1:1).

Now for all three boards side by side and a few shots to try and get some perspective on conditions:

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There has been no color compensation done to these pictures nor to ones in the previous post. Most of the deep yellow cast comes from lighting conditions, not the finish or wood itself, at this point, and tonal variations only show up on close inspection.

Conclusion: The one defect of this set of tests is that they are done on 'white wood' and not old grade beech stock.  Tentative conclusions are just that, and not indicative of what will happen on a darker wood with less natural contrast to it.

Some general conclusions about Cedar wood oil as an additive to regular finishing oils can be made, however.

First - It is a very light oil for finishing wood, and does not leave a thick finish like BLO does.

Second - It imparts very little tonal shift to the wood it is on as a finish when used straight.

Third - As an additive it performs many functions to the finish of other oils. It is not a simple 'does one thing additive'.

Fourth - When added to Tung oil, BLO or Walnut oil, Cedar oil tends to dull gloss in the finish.

Fifth - Also when added to the above it reduces yellow and yellow-brown tonal shifts.

Sixth - Also when added it enhances tonal shift on the dark part of wood grains.

Seventh - Taken cumulatively as an additive it is a contrast enhancer and gloss flattener.

Eighth - When added to other oils it decreases viscosity and drying times of the other oils tested.

If pressed at this point I would go with either a Tung oil or BLO mix with cedar oil at 2:1 concentrations as a sanding coat, and then add small amounts of cedar oil to all further coats for adhesion.  Walnut oil might do for a second to last finish coat if browns needed to be deepened and brought out visually.

 

Notes:

When prepared in tiny batches of <10ml in size, Cedar wood oil has a pronounced change to the viscosity of other oils.

Areas prepared with Cedar wood oil mixtures dried faster even when no solvent/drier was added to the mixture, although after two hours there was still visible oil on the surface of all samples, they were beginning to be puddles.

At concentrations above 25% of Cedar oil in a mixture and 1:1 solvent ratios, the drying time was approximately 20 minutes.  At 2:1 they were upwards of 60 minutes, after which only droplets were left on the surface.

Walnut oil is of lower viscosity to start with and runs easily with even a small amount of solvent added to it.

When making a Walnut oil mix with citrus solvent, one gets hungry as they are reminded of salad dressing.  Prepare only after meals, not before, as it is distracting.

A thorough set of tests will need to be done on luan board on the dark wood side as it is a good representative of old beech wood, save the ring grain is red, not brown.  This will take a couple of days to set up.