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Question about how to finish wooden tools

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Forum topic by AlainBriot posted 03-28-2020 02:16 PM 322 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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AlainBriot

11 posts in 58 days


03-28-2020 02:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing tool handles wooden tools finish

Hi,

I recently purchased three Ash mallets from Garrett Wade. The photographs on the site showed these with a beautiful finish however the ones I received are unfinished. The wood was sanded but left in a natural state. They feel somewhat ‘raw’ or rough.
My question is what do you suggest to finish these and make them look as good as they can? I looked at different types of finish however some look very glossy while others leave a sticky feel to the tools.

I have never put a finish on a tool so this is new to me. My question is specifically about mallets but I am interested in how to finish other types of wooden tools. Any advice is welcome.

Thank you.


22 replies so far

View bilyo's profile

bilyo

1078 posts in 1832 days


#1 posted 03-28-2020 02:45 PM

Mostly wood tools are left unfinished. Over time they will take on their own patina. If you feel better about having a finish on them, try using equal parts of linseed oil or tung oil, poly or alkyd varnish, and mineral spirits or turpentine. You can add a small amount of japan drier if you like. You can renew this finish easily as needed and you only need to mix up the quantity you need.

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AlainBriot

11 posts in 58 days


#2 posted 03-28-2020 03:04 PM

Thank you for this suggestion. It does sound complicated—you mention 5 different products. What percentage of each? How many ounces? Any simpler solutions?

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

16623 posts in 3348 days


#3 posted 03-28-2020 03:19 PM

Equal parts of linseed oil, poly and mineral spirits is what I use. Bilyo was giving alternatives; pick on product in each of the groups of ‘thirds,’ and give it a go.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View Axis39's profile

Axis39

193 posts in 326 days


#4 posted 03-28-2020 04:17 PM

I do a few coats of boiled linseed oil and then a couple of coats of shellac. All rubbed on with a rag.

But, that’s one of my favorite finishes for anything… LOL

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

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simmo

80 posts in 4201 days


#5 posted 03-28-2020 04:24 PM

Sweat
Chris ,

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AlanWS

47 posts in 4287 days


#6 posted 03-28-2020 04:45 PM

Simplest: nothing or sweat.

Next: some oil or other. Just put some boiled linseed oil or tung oil on a rag, and rub it in. After a while, rub it off with a clean(er) cloth. Make sure to air out the cloths, since if they are bunched up, cloths wet with these oils can spontaneously ignite. This finish will make your mallet look very nice, but will take at least several days to dry, and will smell for weeks. I was going to say that this is what I’d do, but I realize that I have 3 unfinished mallets in various sizes, and one finished with shellac, so I guess not.

The reason to mix in a thinner (mineral spirits or turpentine) is just to get it to soak in quickly and allow you to put on a thinner coat that might not need to be wiped off. It does not remain in the finish after drying, so the amount you use is just whatever makes it most convenient to apply. Adding a varnish to the oil will make a harder coat. In my opinion this is not as useful for a mallet, but on furniture a 1:1:1 mixture of oil, varnish, and thinner is very nice, and is sometimes referred to as a Maloof finish. If you don’t know of Sam Maloof, he’s worth looking up.

If you care about speed of drying or smell, just shellac will work fine. I thin the first coat with alcohol to about a 1 lb cut (1 lb dry flakes per gallon or about 2 alcohol : 1 Zinnser canned shellac). This soaks in well, and rubs to a nice subtle finish or first coat for almost any other finish. For a mallet that’s all I’d use since a thick coat would crack as you hit something.

Ethanol and water are the only thinners I use in the house, and it’s not outdoor finishing season yet here.

-- Alan in Wisconsin

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AlainBriot

11 posts in 58 days


#7 posted 03-28-2020 05:35 PM

Thank you Alan. Some use wax after boiled linseed oil. Do you recommend that for tool handles?

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

1254 posts in 1317 days


#8 posted 03-28-2020 05:55 PM

Johnson’s paste floor wax is what I use on most everything. Looks nice, renewable, and is strippable if you want shellac or poly later

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

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AlainBriot

11 posts in 58 days


#9 posted 03-28-2020 07:56 PM

Thank you for the help. Any preference / recommendations for the brand of boiled linseed oil (BOL) ?

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tvrgeek

938 posts in 2378 days


#10 posted 03-28-2020 08:43 PM

Just hit them with a coat of clear spray lacquer.

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therealSteveN

5544 posts in 1303 days


#11 posted 03-28-2020 08:54 PM

Whatever they have at the Big Box nearest you will get it done.

Thirds each of MS, Poly, and BLO. I used this as a topcoat for years. Lately I have gone more for Arm r Seal. I would suggest trying the mix against straight Arm r Seal to see which you liked best. My money is going toward Arm r Seal.

Probably good advice for any finish you want to try, use a bit on some scrap, before committing some hard work to a product, you’ve not tested.

-- Think safe, be safe

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AlainBriot

11 posts in 58 days


#12 posted 03-28-2020 09:19 PM

Thank you. Did any of you use Tried and True products? If yes, how do you like them and which one do you prefer (there’s 3 different ones that I know of) ?

View Phil32's profile

Phil32

1057 posts in 633 days


#13 posted 03-28-2020 09:29 PM

If your use your tools a lot, your skin reaction may be more important than appearance. Ask yourself if you would paint your hands with the products before applying them to your tool handles.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

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AlainBriot

11 posts in 58 days


#14 posted 03-28-2020 09:36 PM

Good point however I have never used any of these products which is why I am here getting advice :-)

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Phil32

1057 posts in 633 days


#15 posted 03-28-2020 09:48 PM

I use my woodcarving tools a lot. I leave them unfinished. Occasionally I scrub off the sweat & dirt with soap & water.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

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