The term hand rubbed isn’t what it’s perceived today. Let’s face it we are a lazy bunch when it comes to physical work and impatient as well, these two ingredients rob us from achieving wondrous, fantastic results. You know the old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” and neither should your projects be, let’s leave the shoddy work for the mass producers. We as amatuer woodworkers aka hobbyists have the luxury of time so why not utilise that time into producing outstanding results, after all we have the most important critic to satisfy…Ourselves.
The greatest advantage of oil polishing as it was once called is its permanence, it will withstand both heat and moisture and gives a dull, glossy or as it’s also known as a lustrous sheen effect and in some timbers it really can pop the grain which makes it visually very appealing. Oiling your timbers can really be a lifesaver as you don’t’ have to worry about brush marks, runs or drips, fish eyes, orange peels and so forth. It really is the safest and best way of applying finish on your projects regardless whether you’re an expert or a novice and after this article not only will you get larger biceps you will become an expert in applying oil finish.
You can use this method in linseed oil or tung oil and you’d want to read up on my other articles on the different type of effects each oil gives to the timber. I’m personally a big fan of Kunos Livos which is 100% natural but this oil doesn’t work on all timbers and can if not applied correctly give disastrous results, always best to experiment on scrap before committing it on your projects.
Apply either raw or boiled linseed diluted with five parts of turpentine or citrus solvents, I like to use citrus solvents for its pleasant smell and it’s a natural safe product. You commonly use raw linseed for outdoor furniture and BLO for indoor. Dilution of the oil allows the oil to penetrate the wood better, it leaves a thinner film on the surface and is more economical. A quick word on the economics, there is no need to spend $50 on a bottle of BLO on popular name brands without mentioning them. You might think they put something inside making it a better product when the truth is unlike the old advert “oils and oils” in this case oil is oil. So if you buy BLO or Raw from your local hardware store like Diggers brand here in Australia which costs around $11 at Bunnings you can bet it’s the same oil they have in the cans at $50+ at your most popular and over priced woodworking stores. Well enough on that.
To begin start early in the morning as this is an all day event and keep checking on your progress every half hour or so.
Apply thin coats not heavy ones advocated by retail sellers and allow some time for the oil to soak into the timber and recoat as needed until no more oil is being sucked into the timber and then comes the laborious part, rub, rub and rub day after day creating a friction you might say this is burnishing the timber. You keep doing this until no more oil is being regurgitated through the pores leaving you out of breath, sores muscles but a beautiful lustrous sheen for everyone to marvel at.
The process is simple but the work is hard just enjoy the process.