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  1. #31
    Too many good tips here. I'll be trying out all kinds of stuff.

  2. #32
    Sponsors Dream Burls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hobbitling View Post
    Anybody use waterlox?
    I sometimes use waterlox to finish my blanks. Not the same as finishing a handle of course, but it works for my purpose. The only thing I would add to previous comments on it is that it is highly toxic and you need to be sure to be in a well ventilated space when using. Read the label carefully, they even mention the possibility of used rags spontaneously combusting.
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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Burls View Post
    I sometimes use waterlox to finish my blanks. Not the same as finishing a handle of course, but it works for my purpose. The only thing I would add to previous comments on it is that it is highly toxic and you need to be sure to be in a well ventilated space when using. Read the label carefully, they even mention the possibility of used rags spontaneously combusting.
    I think there is a low VOC version of waterlox for those concerned about fumes. The regular version is good old fashioned petroleum based solvents -- so yeah, not the healthiest things in the world to take deep breaths of - but pretty much same as any other mineral spirits/paint thinner/naptha solvent products.

    The combustion thing is definitely important to be careful with! Waterlox is a drying oil -- it reacts with oxygen to cure and gives off heat during that process. If you ball up a wet rag of it so the heat can't dissipate, it can surely get hot enough to ignite. best safe practice is to let any rags air dry while flat in a place where there's plenty of airflow..... I lay em flat on concrete away from anything flammable.

    I use the stuff all the time for furniture. It's one of the most forgiving finishes to wipe on, easily repaired and it gives a great older warm look. The amber tone it imparts from the tung oil isn't ideal for all things, though.

  4. #34


    Dave Martell's Avatar
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    For you guys using Waterlox, do you use the filler first and if so how does this stuff work? I'm interested in a product that will fill deep voids like found in woods like koa? Could the regular Waterlox cover this on it's own?

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Martell View Post
    For you guys using Waterlox, do you use the filler first and if so how does this stuff work? I'm interested in a product that will fill deep voids like found in woods like koa? Could the regular Waterlox cover this on it's own?
    Waterlox is fairly thin and would not fill anything other than maybe some superficial surface checks.
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  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Martell View Post
    For you guys using Waterlox, do you use the filler first and if so how does this stuff work? I'm interested in a product that will fill deep voids like found in woods like koa? Could the regular Waterlox cover this on it's own?
    Dave, You can fill with waterlox (assuming we're talking grain variation and not cracks/checks) but it takes a few coats before it will build enough to fill the voids if you're applying it as wipe on finish. Given drying time, this can be time consuming. When I am using waterlox on woods with more grain variation to avoid this, I'll typically do one or two coats of shellac first as a "sanding sealer." Simple enough -- just wipe them on with a lint free rag. Then maybe do a third pass with a rag that was wetted with a little extra solvent (alcohol) before the shellac to help melt and smooth the layers. The shellac dries very fast and once dried, it won't interfere with the waterlox bond.

    After putting the shellac layers down, I'll sand with either a 180 or 220 grit paper to knock most of the shellac back...then waterlox goes over the top of these. This works great for porous woods and it also helps to really pop the grain on highly figured woods. I've heard of others doing similar with slower cure CA glue as a sealer (mostly turners) and getting good results

    As an aside - I use the same approach if I want to add color (on furniture not for handles) to woods that absorb finish unevenly like maple or birch. The shellac creates a nice even and uniform substrate to help stains or dyes deliver more uniform color. Ultra Blonde shellac won't add much amber color if that's a concern.

    If what you're describing is deeper surface checks or cracks than just grain variation - I'd spot fill the individual problems with CA glue before moving into the rest of the finishing process.

    I've got a lot of experience using Waterlox on furniture. It's my favorite no-spray finish for things. If I can answer any questions, happy to.

  8. #38


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    Quote Originally Posted by CPD View Post
    Dave, You can fill with waterlox (assuming we're talking grain variation and not cracks/checks) but it takes a few coats before it will build enough to fill the voids if you're applying it as wipe on finish. Given drying time, this can be time consuming. When I am using waterlox on woods with more grain variation to avoid this, I'll typically do one or two coats of shellac first as a "sanding sealer." Simple enough -- just wipe them on with a lint free rag. Then maybe do a third pass with a rag that was wetted with a little extra solvent (alcohol) before the shellac to help melt and smooth the layers. The shellac dries very fast and once dried, it won't interfere with the waterlox bond.

    After putting the shellac layers down, I'll sand with either a 180 or 220 grit paper to knock most of the shellac back...then waterlox goes over the top of these. This works great for porous woods and it also helps to really pop the grain on highly figured woods. I've heard of others doing similar with slower cure CA glue as a sealer (mostly turners) and getting good results

    As an aside - I use the same approach if I want to add color (on furniture not for handles) to woods that absorb finish unevenly like maple or birch. The shellac creates a nice even and uniform substrate to help stains or dyes deliver more uniform color. Ultra Blonde shellac won't add much amber color if that's a concern.

    If what you're describing is deeper surface checks or cracks than just grain variation - I'd spot fill the individual problems with CA glue before moving into the rest of the finishing process.

    I've got a lot of experience using Waterlox on furniture. It's my favorite no-spray finish for things. If I can answer any questions, happy to.

    Excellent info, thanks!

    I've been on the transition of using CA glue less or should I say just for the big holes and looking for something to seal the pores (real small to large like koa has) prior to finishing. I've tried all the usual suspects getting the best results so far from Tru-Oil's filler/sealer but the feel is so plasticky that I've sanded it off every time I've used it. Sounds like shellac is worth trying and maybe even Waterlox after that, I just want to get the sealing thing down first.

    What type of shellac do you prefer?

  9. #39
    Senior Member zitangy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Martell View Post
    For you guys using Waterlox, do you use the filler first and if so how does this stuff work? I'm interested in a product that will fill deep voids like found in woods like koa? Could the regular Waterlox cover this on it's own?
    I collect the saw dust when sanding wood when repairing cracks on furniture, put a little super glue in the cavity, add very viscous super glue, and a little more sawdust and then glue ( repeat as necessary)till its all even and settled settled. level it as best as possible and then when dry sand it off.

    For black color wood.. I collect saw dust from harder wood.

    Learnt this from an antique furniture repair lady..

    D

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Martell View Post
    Excellent info, thanks!

    I've been on the transition of using CA glue less or should I say just for the big holes and looking for something to seal the pores (real small to large like koa has) prior to finishing. I've tried all the usual suspects getting the best results so far from Tru-Oil's filler/sealer but the feel is so plasticky that I've sanded it off every time I've used it. Sounds like shellac is worth trying and maybe even Waterlox after that, I just want to get the sealing thing down first.

    What type of shellac do you prefer?
    I'm not a fan of the "plastic" finish either. I like an old time look and a finish that people want to touch. The shellac/waterlox process with a little buffing creates that kind of a result. It's sort of matte sheen with a silky look... especially if you buff a little beeswax or boardwax over the top coat.

    I haven't done much with Koa recently but the formula has worked great on all kinds of porous and highly figured woods -- from oak to mahogany to lacewood etc.

    For type of shellac/details - there are a number of premixed shellacs you can buy but my personal preference is to buy flakes and mix it up as needed. That lets me have more control over the color and viscosity... It's not difficult to do. It's literally just putting the flake into denatured alcohol (or Bekhol if you want a premium more refined solvent product) and letting it dissolve overnight. Few points:

    1. buy dewaxed shellac flakes. The waxed variety are only good as a top coat or in french polishing. Dewaxed won't interfere with other finishes layered on top.
    2. make in batches suited to your project. mixed up shellac doesn't spoil, but it does get harder to apply after about 4 months to 6 months so it's best to work small batches so that it's "fresh"
    3. viscosity -- shellac is usually described by the "Cut" which means the ratio of flake to alcohol. 2lbs flake to 1 gallon solven is a two pound cut, 1 lbs flake to 1 gallon a one pound cut etc. For sealing/filling I'd go with a 1.5lb cut....it's pretty thin but no so much that you'll need to use a ton to fill grain. For a 1.5lb cut in a small batch, you'd use 1.5oz shellac per 8 oz alcohol solvent. I usually make a batch in a mason jar as needed.
    4. If you have deeper cracks to fill, you can use a thicker 2.5, 3 or 4lb cut of shellac... it just gets harder to apply as it gets thicker.
    5. There are a number of colors of shellac available in flake form - they run from ultra pale and blonde to orange and deep amber. You can combine them as needed to have control over how much color (if any) they leave on the wood. I use blonde or pale most of the time to keep the amount of amber color added to a minimum.
    6. Avoid the bullseye type premixed shellac products from hardware stores. Usually a lot cheaper than mixing your own, but the results are nowhere near as good.

    sources -- can find shellac at a lot of more specialized woodworking shops from woodcraft to Highland Woodworking. Guitar maker stores like Stew Mac will also carry. Homestead Finishing Products is another option - small store run by a finishing expert who has a lot of good info in a forum like here)

    shellac prices vary a ton because it's used in a lot of products -- waxy and food safe, it ends up as a filler in all kinds of consumer products and things. Right now it's pretty pricy at near $40lb but good news is, a little goes a long way. Especially at a 2lb cut or less. You could probably run at least hundred handles/saya with a single lb of shellac.

    As an added aside - if you do the shellac/waterlox combo on a handle, it will probably take 3 to 5 days for the waterlox to fully harden (true full cure is longer...but by a week, you're good from a hardness standpoint). During that period it may feel a little tacky or plastic like. Once fully cured, though, it buffs down beautifully and there is no plastic feeling. I just made a couple handles with a mix of ultra dense African Blackwood and stabilized burls. The formula worked great. (I won't post a public picture but if you're curious - this being your forum in the first place - happy to PM you a picture)

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