Varnish recipe using Walnut Oil?

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Blog entry by Dez posted 09-16-2010 07:42 PM 13712 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A very good friend of mine recently emailed me with a status update (I asked how he was doing), and a question!
I have some experience with finishes but not this type of finish – so I thought I would pose the question here as there are so many knowledgeable folks that hang out here.

”You wouldn’t have any idea of a recipe for a short oil varnish using walnut oil would you?
I want to finish this instrument in a varnish with a French Polish over it.”

In the meantime I will peruse the answers I got from Google and see what I can come up with there.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

5 comments so far

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1530 posts in 5363 days

#1 posted 09-17-2010 01:56 AM

I just use Walnut oil straight: Apply it heavily, let it sit for a bit, wipe it off, in a few days (if I can wait that long, I usually use it on food-safe objects) it dries hard.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View BigTiny's profile


1721 posts in 4126 days

#2 posted 09-17-2010 06:32 PM

There’s no “E” at the end of T.A.N.S.T.A.A.F.L.

(For the non Heinlein fans, it stands for “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”).

For french polishing, there’s an excellent site that goes into it at length at:

Check it out.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Dez's profile


1176 posts in 5315 days

#3 posted 09-17-2010 08:57 PM

Thanks fro the link Big Tiny. I know, I added the E for “Ever”!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 4673 days

#4 posted 02-19-2011 12:34 PM


I just checked this out, I dont know if its already too late… but if you apply the walnut oil straight and let it “polimerize” or harden out completly, you should be able to coat it with another type of varnish, but doing a test would proably be a good idea. I have never tried this before personally but I have seen some post about it here on Lumber Jocks. French polish should work too, after the oil is hardened… the question is if it is really worth going through the extra effort of oiling the wood and waiting for it to dry throughly, and then coating it again. By this I mean, if the difference in the wood color is that significant, if it were handled with a normal Varnish.

I have tried a trick out though that does work, it brings out the grain more than just normal Varnish and thats Thining out the first coat of varnish with some thinner so it soaks deeper into the wood. then sand, then varnish two more times with light sanding inbetween. This seems to work well in my experience!

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View Dez's profile


1176 posts in 5315 days

#5 posted 02-19-2011 05:38 PM

Never too late unless he and I stop making things!
I had read about letting walnut oil harden and then re-coating with french polish on a luthiers site. They were quite in depth about the process including the “polymerizing” of the walnut oil using ultraviolet (sunshine or special UV lights), even digging into old documents and recipes for both. It was quite an interesting read.
I believe he decided to go ahead and use a varnish on this one and wait until another instrument to experiment.
Thanks again!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

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