Unfinished finish?

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Forum topic by Dave Rutan posted 12-17-2016 09:41 PM 893 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dave Rutan

2008 posts in 3241 days

12-17-2016 09:41 PM

Topic tags/keywords: human oil finish unfinished question

Is there a term for when a piece of furniture, usually a chair, is sanded smooth but no finish is added? The idea being that contact with human skin will impart some sort of oils to the parts that are touched? I heard about this being done, but I wonder if there is an actual term for it.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

6 replies so far

View Carloz's profile


1147 posts in 1644 days

#1 posted 12-17-2016 10:20 PM

Yes there is a term – “gross”. I just had to refinish some of unfinished stuff that was used for only half a year although it was in a gym so the use was pretty intense.
A bare wood after contact with the skin will absorb sweat and look absolutely disgusting after a while.
After I touched it with a sander the dust went up and smelled so bad I had to go back and find the organic vapors respirator.
There is a reason why people finish wood properly.

View Rich's profile


6775 posts in 1642 days

#2 posted 12-17-2016 10:22 PM

In Dave Marks’ video where he builds a wooden hand plane, he talks about giving it a “hand oil” finish, that is, leaving it unfinished and letting the oil it picks up from the skin be the finish.

That doesn’t really answer your question though.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Dave Rutan

2008 posts in 3241 days

#3 posted 12-17-2016 10:26 PM

I agree it would be gross. I imagine the wood would turn a sort of dirty gray color. Your mention of the odor reminds me of Norm Abram planing the recycled boards from a brewery in his original Adirondack chair video. They smelled like beer. I’m still curious though if there is a term for it in woodworking.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


6930 posts in 2440 days

#4 posted 12-17-2016 10:37 PM

I’ve seen it called a “hand finish” or a “work finish” though I cannot remember where I heard that and cannot seem to find anything with a quick search.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Loren's profile


11145 posts in 4700 days

#5 posted 12-17-2016 11:17 PM

I call it “bare wood”... in any case it’s prone
to grain raising so I usually put wax on for
a little protection.

Tool handles unfinished get dark and burnished
from handling but most unfinished wood will
get dirty.

In Japanese temples carpenters plane the baseboards
when they pick up scuffs. They use fine pine and
the planed surface is remarkably dirt and dent
resistant, slick, but needs occasional touch-ups.

View mike02130's profile


170 posts in 1725 days

#6 posted 12-18-2016 02:11 AM

Like those cheap unfinished furniture stores. I believe it’s called unfinished.

-- Google first, search forums second, ask questions later.

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