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Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits (Read 506 times)
 
Micheal Gipson
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Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Jun 21st, 2019 at 12:27am
 
A customer asked me to use boiled linseed oil mixed with mineral spirits on their project. I must say I'm pretty Blown Away with the results. The fact that it's highly waterproof and in some cases fire resistant, I can see myself putting it on anything that isn't food grade. Lol. But before I go pedal-to-the-metal into this finish, I figured I better ask the the people who have had more experience than I.

What are the pros and cons that you have found with boiled linseed oil and have you ever done one part linseed oil one part mineral spirits? I couldn't find information on that mixture anywhere other than Wikipedia saying that adding mineral spirits could speed up the drying process. I'm putting on the final coats before I pair it off the lathe. This is a shifting knob or a manual truck.
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Micheal Gipson
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Re: Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Reply #1 - Jun 21st, 2019 at 12:29am
 
My phone is refusing to let me post the picture.
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Louie Powell
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Re: Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Reply #2 - Jun 21st, 2019 at 6:08am
 
Linseed oil is a very good finish.  The initial coat, thinned with a solvent, penetrates into the fibers of the wood.  Additional coats will build to a soft lustre. 

It's not a hard finish (it penetrates rather than forming a skin), so it isn't as protective as a varnish or lacquer.

You can thin that first coat with mineral spirits, but I prefer turpentine.  Some people use an orange oil solvent - it smells much better!

The concern for food safety comes about because 'boiled' linseed oil isn't actually boiled, but rather the polymerization is accelerated by the addition of metallic dryers. 

You can get similar results pure Tung oil or walnut oil.  Pure Tung oil doesn't contain metallic dryers, and polymerizes all on its own.  Tung oil provides better protection for the wood, and it doesn't darken as much as linseed oil as it ages.  Walnut oil darkens even less.
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Ed Weber
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Re: Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Reply #3 - Jun 21st, 2019 at 9:12am
 
Micheal Gipson wrote on Jun 21st, 2019 at 12:27am:
The fact that it's highly waterproof and in some cases fire resistant


Highly waterproof, compared to what?
Fire resistant, I would like to know where this information came from, I have never heard this claim.

Linseed Oil is a drying oil
Adding mineral spirits or any type of solvent thins the oil, it does not help it dry. It may dry faster but that's because you applied a thinned coat. When you apply less product it takes less time to dry (polymerize).
You can purchase Raw Linseed oil, Polymerized Linseed Oil and of course, Boiled Linseed Oil. They all have a place to be used.

Linseed oil for outdoor projects,
I use turpentine mixed with BLO as Louie mentioned. Linseed oil is okay for preserving outdoor items that are static, like fences, not items that get used like decks.
(many old farmers or people who store equipment outdoors will coat the bare metal parts with Linseed Oil to prevent rusting. It's natural and sticky)

Linseed oil doesn't harden enough to be durable or wear resistant and has no UV protection. It does provide some protection but at a cost. Linseed oil can promote mildew to grow and must be applied properly to get any benefit. Applying to thickly, when the wood has too high of a moisture content or when it's too cold and it won't dry properly.

For me, Linseed oil, boiled or raw, is best used as an additive or ingredient in a finish but not as a stand alone finish itself.
JMO
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Richard Shelby
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Re: Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Reply #4 - Jun 21st, 2019 at 9:15am
 
Linseed is actually Flax seed oil. It is a food suplment for HUFA's (Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids). I use it on salad bowls in combination with paraffin wax. It leaves a matte finish but highly waterproof.
 
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Micheal Gipson
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Re: Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Reply #5 - Jun 21st, 2019 at 11:46am
 
Ed Weber, there is a video I watched while trying to find information on the mixture. He used a thick coat of regular linseed oil on a cloth and let it dry and completely cure. He put water on it and it didn't go through. Next he used a flint and steel with a 300° spark with no affect. Holding a flame directly to it is the only thing that actually took effect. But after giving it another week or so after curing it had no effect.

Now if it's not true then I have been had. I don't plan on setting my projects on fire so it just seemed like a added bonus.


If it's not that good of a stand-alone finish, what are good finishes to pair it with? Other than a wax of the top of it, I haven't seen anything else added to it. YouTube is Limited in information even with all the wood workers on it. You can't cover it all. I'm glad I can come here and get answers.


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Ed Weber
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Re: Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Reply #6 - Jun 21st, 2019 at 1:10pm
 
Richard Shelby wrote on Jun 21st, 2019 at 9:15am:
t leaves a matte finish but highly waterproof.


Unless Linseed oil is applied in several light coats and allowed to dry properly in between, it isn't a very good waterproofing measure. I suspect that the wax may have more to do with preventing water penetration than the Linseed oil does.

This is how wiping oil finishes came about, linseed oil by itself isn't up to the task, so thinners are added to help it penetrate and some type of resin is added for durability and protection.
To get a similar level of protection with only linseed oil, the process is quite time consuming which is one reason why you don't see it done often.

I will add a little bit of science.
Linseed oil, when it cures and starts to get harder or polymerize, doesn't have a very strong cross-linking structure. This means it's water resistant properties aren't that good.
Tung oil on the other hand has about twice as many cross-linking connections as Linseed oil, giving it far better waterproofing  properties.

IMO,
Much of the popularity of linseed oil is that it's cheap and available most anywhere. Since it is by far the most widely used drying oil, there is no end to the amount of concoctions you can find throughout history, in books and of course the internet.
Linseed oil is a wonderful product but it has limitations. In certain applications it is not always the best choice.
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Louie Powell
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Re: Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Reply #7 - Jun 21st, 2019 at 1:55pm
 
Micheal Gipson wrote on Jun 21st, 2019 at 11:46am:
If it's not that good of a stand-alone finish, what are good finishes to pair it with?


Fiinishes generally fall into three catetories:
  1. penetrating finishes - finishes that actually penetrate into the wood, and that incorporate the actual surface of the wood as part of the finish.  Penetrating finishes tend to retain the tactile feel and texture of the wood, but are generally not exceptionally glossy.  One notable advantage of penetrating finishes is that if the item is damaged, a penetrating finish can be repaired.  Most penetrating finishes are based on one of the drying oils - linseed, Tung or walnut, in combination with other components. Commercial penetrating finishes include the Danish oils, 'teak oil', 'antique oil', and Waterlox.  In the world of turning, penetrating finishes are often applied by wiping, and are sometimes called 'wiping finishes'.
  2. skin finishes - finishes that leave a hard shell on the surface of the wood.  These finishes tend to be very glossy, but are notoriously difficult to repair.  The finish lies on top of the wood surface, and tends to have a glass-like feel.  In some cases, they are described as 'plasticky'.  Shellac, lacquer and polyurethane are the most common skin finishes; pen turners also frequently use cyanocryllate (superglue) as a finish.  One semantic concern - so-called 'wipe on poly' is actually a skin finish rather than a penetrating finish - it's basically polyurethane with additional mineral spirits to make it apply in thinner coats.
  3. other finishes include finishes that are intended to be 'food safe'  (which generally also means that the finish will degrade over time).   One bowl turner I know uses only pure beeswax to finish salad bowls. 


  4. Wax can be applied on top of any of these finishes to create a higher gloss.  However, the thing to be aware of with wax is that handling the item will degrade the wax, so it's mainly intended for display items.

    Turners often make up their own finishes by combining one or more of these basic components.  For example, turners often use a 'friction polish' made by blending one of the drying oils with either shellac or lacquer, along with the matching solvent (typically in a 1:1:1 ratio).  This is applied to the piece with it spinning; rubbing the spinning piece creates friction and heat the blends additional coats of finish into earlier coats, and accelerates drying.    I make a wiping finish by blending pure Tung oil, turpentine, and a high-quality akyd varnish to make something that is similar to the commercial finish Waterlox. 

    Experimenting with various finishes is all part of the craft of turning.




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Micheal Gipson
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Re: Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Reply #8 - Jun 21st, 2019 at 2:29pm
 
So oil based finish like mineral oil and linseed oil, go into the wood to keep it revitalized and not dry out. Does it do anything if you were to put a coat of linseed oil then put poly over it? Or is that pointless? 

If it's fully cured, would BLO be good for pen making? Is it a durable enough to be handed daily? It was another wood worker that wanted the linseed oil finish and it's for a gear shifter for a car. So I would think its very durable. He said to only put 3 coats.
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Don Stephan
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Re: Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Reply #9 - Jun 21st, 2019 at 7:26pm
 
Some points have really confused me.

First, I don't understand why any woodworker would try to set on fire a rag with a cured coating of finish.  I just don't see the relevance or importance.

Second, my experience with boiled linseed oil (BLO) on my workbench is that it develops water spots rather easily even after a year.  The ring caused by the wet coffee cup likely will be in my bench for another 10 years unless I true up the surface and apply another couple coats.

I have no idea what technically is meant by "revitalizing" wood - if an existing finish has been degraded by years of exposure to sunlight, the finish may need to be stripped and a new finish applied, but I wouldn't consider that "revitalizing" wood.

Fourth, I know of no finish, including epoxy, that is impervious to movement of moisture.  If so, no finish prevents wood from drying out when moved to an environment with lower relative humidity.

The surface of raw wood left exposed to strong sunlight will begin to turn grayish, at which time a coat of BLO will make the wood much more attractive.  But it is not chemically changing the wood, rejuvenating it, reinvigorating it, reinventing it, restoring it, or any of the other imaginations of marketers who know nothing about wood.

Hope I didn't sound harsh, that was not intended.  I asked the same sorts of questions a few years ago (well, maybe more than a few years ago).  Read books and articles by Jeff Jewitt, Bob Flexner, and a third well regarded finisher who writes a lot.  Jeff's first book Hand Applied Finishes is a great place to start.  Hopefully your local public library has books by these writers.  And keep asking questions!
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Micheal Gipson
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Re: Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Reply #10 - Jun 21st, 2019 at 9:14pm
 
I don't think he was a wood worker. It was a test for making walets or something like that. I wouldn't test it on wood. Revitalizing the wood was just a bad choice of words. You guys know what oil does to wood. 

I will look for those books I would like to have more information on it.
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Re: Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Reply #11 - Jun 21st, 2019 at 10:59pm
 
Good inf—Lots to read, but sometimes experience helps along with knowing what you are using.  Unlike many, I do have a strong chemistry/organic background—- kind of important to my avocation.
I have experimented a LOT with finishes.  By itself BLO is not a hard, durable finish.  What it does best for me is to really make the grain POP!  I do mix my own “wipe on” poly and have one recipe that uses 25-30 ish % BLO to 75  ish  % wipe on.
I use that as a first coat either as a friction application on the lathe or just as first coat off the lathe.  Works best for me as just the first coat with the rest just being wipe on or “regular” poly. My solvent of choice is usually naphtha.
As for being fire proof— NOT!  BLO rags will easily spontaneously combust (it’s happened to a close friend) — so treat them accordingly.
Growing up— my father used BLO on outside cedar— because some authority told him it was good— maybe for a couple years.  Then it turned black from weathering/decomposition.   It does not cure(harden) and probably will go rancid so as a single finish I would not use it on food bearing surfaces.  However once used with or covered with poly, it does make food safe surfaces.
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« Last Edit: Jun 21st, 2019 at 11:02pm by David Hill »  

Everyday liberating nice things from ordinary chunks of wood---and I like gnarly wood, the outcome is nearly always better than the start.
 
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Re: Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Reply #12 - Jun 22nd, 2019 at 1:37pm
 
Louie Powell wrote on Jun 21st, 2019 at 1:55pm:
Turners often make up their own finishes by combining one or more of these basic components.  For example, turners often use a 'friction polish' made by blending one of the drying oils with either shellac or lacquer, along with the matching solvent (typically in a 1:1:1 ratio).  This is applied to the piece with it spinning; rubbing the spinning piece creates friction and heat the blends additional coats of finish into earlier coats, and accelerates drying.


This is not directed at Louie in any way. My rant (pet peeve) is directed at quality and lack there of for the sake of speed.

IMNSHO,

This is why I hate friction polishes or all-in-one finishes.
Trying to combine oil (a penetrating finish), shellac, (a film forming top coat), and wax ( a very thin level of protection and beautification).

First coat on raw wood;
Oil soaks in and enhances the grain
Shellac or lacquer forms a film
Wax melts and covers the surface.

Shellac and lacquer DO NOT need any heat, friction or even sanding to "blend" into the previous coat. The solvent present softens  the previous coat (dissolves the surface a small amount) and literally melts the successive coats into the previous one. They are hard (dry) when no more solvent is present.

The heat created by friction melts the wax (if present) so that it may flow more evenly and produce the glossy finish. Heat will speed the evaporation of the solvent, which in turn makes the overall drying time shorter but it's not a big difference.

Second coat
Oil can not penetrate through top coat and becomes not much more than a lubricant for applying the shellac or lacquer (shellac and lacquer are sticky)
  (This is why some people try to compare it to the process of French Polishing)
The solvent in the shellac or lacquer dissolves the previous coat of wax, stripping it away. Then the solvent begins to soften the surface of the previous coat in preparation for the next. The shellac or lacquer harden very quickly as the solvent evaporates and the heat builds. This in turn begins melting the was and the process starts over and over for each additional coat.
Since you are sacrificing thickness of coat (quality) for speed of application,  these coats are very thin. several need to be applied for any level of protection.
As you can see in my description of the process, oil is really only present in the first coat (where it an penetrate) and wax is only present in the final coat (where it won't be stripped off by solvent). With all the coats in between, only the shellac or lacquer remain.
Don't believe me, that's fine. Look at the applicator you used after a friction polish and tell me what's on there.
I'm guessing it's excess oil and wax.

Retail products like Mylands and Hut are well over 75% solvent, leaving little room for shellac and wax (which you can see)
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Mike Nathal
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Re: Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Reply #13 - Jun 23rd, 2019 at 6:13am
 
+1 on getting a good book on finishes.  I have not read Jeff Jewitt's book but highly recommend Understanding Wood Finishing by Bob Flexner
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Re: Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits
Reply #14 - Jun 23rd, 2019 at 8:46am
 
Michael Dresdner is the third author of finishing books I would recommend.
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