Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Steak Knives Part 3 - Testing Finishes 2

Okay, so I discussed what finishes I selected, now this post is essentially just to show and discuss the results of my little finishing experiment.

As a reminder, this is what I did;

1. I sanded a piece of scrap of bubinga, leopardwood, wenge, Carribean rosewood, redheart, and paduak. and zebrawood to 800 grit.
2. I finished one side of each with Tru-Oil.
3. A few days later, sealed the other side with dewaxed shellac and used Tru-Oil.
4. Formby's on a piece of each.
5. Lastly, I took a final piece and tried the submersion technique.

Results after the jump:

Knife scale materials, unfinished
Okay, any good experiment needs a control. So, if we're aiming for a mediocre, or perhaps even passable, experiment, we need something that looks a bit like a control, but really isn't one if we want to get technical. Enter the picture of unfinished scrap wood above! If it really were a control, I'd just leave it unfinished, but I took a picture of it, so that will have to do. Mediocrity here we come.

Experiment 1a - Tru-Oil:

Finished with Tru-Oil
Process: Rubbed on a thin coat of Tru-Oil, let dry 8-12 hours, sanded with 1200 grit sandpaper, rubbed on another coat. I put a total of 5 coats sanding between each. (After the last coat I tried finish sanding with 1500, but it just dulled the finish, so that's out). Also, there were no issues with the material interfering with the oil drying/curing (here's looking at you paduak).

Pros: Smooth as silk, feels durable, great gloss finish, great tactile feel in the hand. Easy to apply, fast drying.

Cons: Honestly, none are apparent.

Experiment 1b - Tru-Oil over dewaxed shellac:

Process: Applied a coat of dewaxed shellac, then repeated the same process that I used in Experiment 1.

Pros: None are apparent over and above using only Tru-Oil. Essentially, the outcome was the same.

Cons: It takes an additional step.

Experiment 2a - Soak in boiled linseed oil overnight:

Top to bottom: Paduak, bubinga, Carribean Rosewood, zebrawood, and leopardwood, all unfinished
Look everyone, it's mediocre "control" 2.0!

Soaking in BLO overnight

After a week + of curing time
Process: Put in container, pour in boiled linseed oil, leave overnight, wipe off and let dry.

Pros: Easy to apply (I guess? I imagine it would take some rigging if there were knife blades attached to these pieces of wood, like I'd have to clamp the blade and dunk it into a tall deep container maybe?). 

Cons: It uses *a lot* of oil to submerge the material, and almost all of it is going to waste. Wiping that down is messy, and it takes a long time to dry. Also, after review, it's tough to make sure *all* of the excess is wiped off. I ended up with some spots where the surface was gummy because I didn't quite wipe all down perfectly.

Questions of taste: It darkened the wood more than the Tru-Oil. I guess whether that's a pro or con is up to your taste. The oil varnishes (Tru-Oil and Formby's) both built up a very smooth finish that had a distinct feel. This kind of felt like a finish but retained more of the "I'm touching raw wood" feel.

Experiment 2b - Tru-Oil over Boiled Linseed Oil Soak:

Process: Six coats of Tru-Oil wiped on over the Boiled Linseed Oil Soak, sanding at 1200 grit between coats.

Pros: Imparts the gloss (though that maybe a question of taste), improves the tactile feel of the pieces.

Cons: None really that are different from before. 

Experiment 3a - Formby's Tung Oil Finish:

Three mediocre control photos? Surely you jest.

Add caption

Process: Wiped on Formby's Tung Oil Finish

Pros: Easy to apply. After a few coats it built up a tactile feel of being "finished." Built a nice gloss shine. Visually, it's not too dissimilar from the Tru-Oil. Fast drying.

Cons: None particularly apparent. However, in comparison to the Tru-Oil, it didn't build the same tactile experience, which I think in the context of something in your hands is a key consideration.

Conclusion: Tru-Oil

Honestly, it's hard to convey properly by way of amateur photography. The handles just felt an awful lot better in the hand finished with Tru-Oil. I know, kind of unsatisfying, but honestly it had the best visual, tactile, finish of any of the things I tested.

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