Wood finish mixes

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Forum topic by SST posted 02-22-2008 05:42 PM 8358 views 4 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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790 posts in 5250 days

02-22-2008 05:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: varnish finishing

I’ve been wanting to try new finishes for my projects, and I remember reading somewhere about a mix of equal parts of boiled linseed oil, spar varnish, and turpentine. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Has anyone used this or any similar mix? Will polyurethane work instead of spar varnish? I’ve also heard of beeswax in a mix. Anyone know about this?
I’d love to hear about your experiences with these things, their pluses and their minuses.
I’m thinking you might be a Lumberjock if you know about these things -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

7 replies so far

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 4937 days

#1 posted 02-22-2008 08:44 PM

Here is a recent discussion on a three part solution. Using Tung, Varnish, and thinner. I have not tried it, but favorited it.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Joey's profile


276 posts in 4870 days

#2 posted 02-22-2008 09:06 PM

I mix my own finish, and i use it pretty much on everything i make now. It’s a Maloof style finish.
mix equal parts 100% pure raw tung oil (not formby’s this is not real tung oil), boiled linseed oil, and gloss polyurethane. I sand the wood to 400 and then burnish with 0000 steel wool. remove all dust and wipe on the first coat, let this stand for about 5 minutes and then wipe off. It will take up to 48 hours for the first coat to dry, depending on temperature and weather. After it dries rub the wood down with 0000 steel wool and wipe on another coat, let stand 5 minutes and wipe off. you don’t want to leave the coats on thick, the tung oil won’t dry smooth like the poly will. You do have to build about 5 to 7 coats with this method. But it’s the best i have found. sometimes i will put a coat of paste wax on top just for smoothness.
whenever i use this finish, people’s comments are alway that they can’t believe how the wood looks and how good it feels.

-- Joey, Magee, Ms

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 5261 days

#3 posted 02-23-2008 02:01 PM

Hello SST;
—-years ago I used to do a shaker style finish for some pieces of furniture and also the trim boards on interior house work.

The mix I used was a 3 part mix of equal proportions:
—- 1 part Boiled Linseed Oil
—- 1 part Gum Turps and yes, plain mineral spirits will also work
—- 1 part Polyurethane (oil)

Just wipe//brush on and let sit a few minutes and then remove the excess with a cloth rag. Please pay special attention to those rags....I would place the rags in a metal garbage can and at the end of the day they would be already smoking. Burn your rags every day at the time you finish as these are highley combustible!

Depending on the sheen you are after is how many coats you will apply….

Thank you.

-- --frank, NH,

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 4839 days

#4 posted 02-23-2008 04:27 PM

Marc aka The Wood Whisperer advocates one part boiled linseed oil, one part varnish and one part mineral spirits. He may have said a different oil, but you get the idea.

-- Eric at

View TampaTom's profile


74 posts in 4808 days

#5 posted 02-23-2008 07:37 PM

I’ve also seen 1 part turpentine, one part beeswax and one part poly as a finish recipe…

Haven’t tried it yet, but it might work…

-- Tom's Workbench -

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 5052 days

#6 posted 02-23-2008 08:50 PM

There’s a little more discussion of a three part finish here at Chris Schwarz' personal site, in the most recent post. Also, our own Mike Lingenfelter has contributed a drawing there!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 4854 days

#7 posted 02-23-2008 10:48 PM

The mix you describe is what’s known as a long oil in finish maker’s parlance. Easy to apply, easy to repair as long as you don’t try to “build” the finish as the film will be way too soft. It’s great for a lot of projects but not all. The spar varnish is already a long oil finish as it’s resistance to moisture and the blistering that might occur are circumvented via the built-in flexibility of the resulting film. The boiled in boiled linseed oil isn’t cooked at all but rather lets you know that metallic driers have been added to the raw linseed oil to promote a faster cure rate. The turpentine is just a thinner/solvent for the mix. A caveat: whenever you cut a finish with a given solvent, make sure you maintain that solvent in that mix. Don’t ask me how I know that, it’s too embarrassing.

Anyway, what you propose is a soft finish that is easy to repair, not highly protective but adequate, never too shiny, smooth to the touch as it doesn’t get too much in the way of the wood and did I mention it was easy as heck to repair?


P.S. I use a mix of 1/3 each of pure gum turpentine, beeswax and boiled linseed oil for my wooden vise screws and to maintain my bench tops. It offers ease of use, adequate protection and the lovely amber glow that comes with the curing linseed oil. Hope this helps.

-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

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