Turning Archive 2006

Building oil finishes

Carole Valentine
>It is not really my preference, but it seems that a lot of people (buyers in this region, at least) like a high gloss finish on decorative pieces, especially dyed ones. I sincerely hate working with lacquer so I have been experimenting to see just how high a gloss I can get with oil (Waterlox). I can get an extremly high gloss - lacquer-like in appearance - by building and wiping, building and wiping and on the final coat, merely smoothing the oil and not wiping it all off. These last few coats, especially the final one, are more *on* the wood than *in* it. Are these *on-the-wood* layers of cured oil subject to degradation over time like many of the film finishes I have seen? Crazing, flaking, etc.? Russ says that oil remains a little more flexible than lacquers and that makes sense, but don't the successive layers of lacquer sort of dissolve into one another? I am not sure if Waterlox or other hardening oils do that when used as a high-build finish. Of course the only way for me to tell anything about the durability is to let the pieces sit around for years and see what happens, so I thought I'd check on the collective experience here.

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