Waterlox users(and/or birchwood casey tru oil users) - a couple questions

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Forum topic by Survivalbloke posted 10-04-2017 11:10 PM 2082 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1157 days

10-04-2017 11:10 PM

Well hello all of you! This is my first post here.

I finish furniture for a living. Well, I build, I restore antiques, I repair, and I refinish. Over the years I’ve narrowed what I use down to just a few finishes. With these finishes, I have supreme predictability. In order of durability, I use:

-Nitro lacquer
-Conversion Varnish

I recently saw a table top the other day, and was quite impressed with the appearance of the finish. The guy said he used Waterlox – about 5 or 6 coats. For those of you who have experience with this product, what is it? How is the durability against moisture?

A secondary question if you will. I have a buddy who has started to use Birchwood Casey Tru Oil as his go-to table top finish. Do any of you have any experience with that?

5 replies so far

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6173 posts in 1511 days

#1 posted 10-05-2017 12:49 AM

I use Waterlox frequently specifically for its durability against moisture. The tung oil base gives the wood a nice luster as well.

If you watch any Thomas Johnson Antique Restoration videos on youtube, you’ll notice that he uses Waterlox extensively. He calls it tung oil and doesn’t show the label, but you can see from the colors on the can that it’s Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish. He also uses the satin product on occasion.

I have no experience with Birchwood Casey Tru Oil.

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

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681 posts in 1670 days

#2 posted 10-06-2017 01:46 AM

I have a distant cousin that’s a woodworker with a ‘name’, which means he can sell stuff for big bucks. Admittedly, his work is top notch and the finish is lovely. So, I just had to ask what he used. He uses Waterlox Original. So I started using the same stuff, and getting great results. I put a sealer down (Minwax Antique Oil, though he used Watco Danish Oil) and then at least 3 coats of Waterlox, minimum. The cousin said that because of the cost, and no other reason, he used other than Waterlox sealer, preferring the Watco. But since the Watco is slow to dry, I switched to the Minwax Antique Oil.

The Waterlox gives a nice film finish that seems to hold water out, though I haven’t really put it to a hard test.

I apply with sponge brushes. Thin application on vertical surfaces and heavier application on horizontal surfaces I don’t know what he uses to apply the finish.

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567 posts in 1425 days

#3 posted 10-06-2017 11:30 AM

I have used the Tru-Oil extensively, but not for furniture. I have restored in excess of 50 old American double guns. Tru-Oil is a good, easy to use product for gunstocks, which is its intended use. I don’t see why it would not work for furniture. I will tell you a couple tips that I have learned form using it. First, it has Japan drier in it and when opened and exposed to air for use the drier tends to leave it relatively quickly. You will notice that it begins to slow drying after use and you can just add some more drier to it. Second, I always spray the final coat and it “wets” out perfectly smooth as glass if you first warm it and the object being sprayed. Be advised that Tru-Oil is not as clear as many finishes, you might find that it will darken some wood more than you might want. Good luck.

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81 posts in 1156 days

#4 posted 10-06-2017 04:23 PM

Msinc, good info. How do you judge the amount of Japan drier to add? I assume it’s just “feel”. What type of sprayer are you using. Thanks for the previous info I’ll see where I can get this.

-- TomB

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567 posts in 1425 days

#5 posted 10-07-2017 02:01 AM

Msinc, good info. How do you judge the amount of Japan drier to add? I assume it s just “feel”. What type of sprayer are you using. Thanks for the previous info I ll see where I can get this.

- tomb8

Sorry for the delay…been a little busy. It doesn’t take a lot of Japan drier. The way this stuff works, as I understand it, is that it rises to the surface in a very thin coat after the item is coated/sprayed. It blocks ambient air {and I assume its moisture content too} from contacting the very surface of the finish. When air is allowed to contact the finish that very outside part that gets “air” contact is very slow to dry and that is what stays sticky. You don’t need much because the drier just forms a thin protective coat. In terms of amount I only use like a teaspoon to the pint. The Japan drier I have is rather dark brown in color and it can further darken the finish if you use too much. Because it separates and rises to the top I don’t believe having too much will necessarily hurt the finish.
It is very similar to “surface agent” used with fiberglass or gel-coat to prevent that sticky surface. In order for these finishes to solidify {dry} and not be sticky they must not contact air.
One of the things nice about Tru-Oil is that it can be applied with a brush, a rag or sponge, your finger or spray. I use a siphon type spray gun because it atomizes the finish better and I am able to get a high gloss, glass like finish this way. I wipe or brush it on to fast build a thicker coat and spray the final coat.
Tru-Oil is nice for things like gun stocks because you can apply it lightly and have the appearance of a military oil finish, you can build it up and spray it to a very high wet glossy shine or buff it flat with a rubbing compound and hard flannel pad for a hand rubbed “London Oil” finish.
They offer a spray can and if you let hot water run on the can and shake it to warm up the contents you can get it to wet out perfectly too. Typically I buff the item being finished with #0000 superfine steel wool and hit it with a tack cloth before I spray. I should add that some of the new better grade HVLP guns are easily capable of producing a very fine well atomized spray and resultant high gloss too, but they are high dollar. I find that a cheap siphon gun will get the job done for way less money. When you first apply this with a gun or spray can it will appear like you have it too thick or it will look unlevel, don’t worry, if it was warmed up first it will soon flow out nice and smooth.
I have to say that I cannot take credit for the warming tip…that came directly from a very helpful tech at Birchwood-Casey.

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