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Thread: Seeking handle finishing advice.

  1. #1

    Seeking handle finishing advice.

    I know very little to nothing about wood, so every handle I make is a learning experience. I have made a few and they are fine, but now I am trying to make them awesome. So the questions are. Can I sand something too fine before I apply the finish (I am currently using butchers block oil from Lowes), also along the same lines can I do much sanding after I apply the finish? Also what are some good treatments for wood to help it resist moisture and help it shine? I just got some Micro Mesh in and I will be using that for the final steps of sanding, will that be good enough or should I get a buffing wheel (If I should get one what compounds are best for wood)?

    Thanks for the help, and any tips that come to mind are more than welcome too.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Cairns. Australia.
    I just started using the same oil and sanding with 400grit paper in between coats.I usually sand to 800 before i apply the oil.After 5 coats it is almost like a varnish.Unless i find something better this is what i will be sticking with.Dont know much about buffing though.

  3. #3
    Weird Wood Pusher Burl Source's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Kerby, OR
    You might try one of the oil blends that does both penetrate and build up a surface.
    Like Danish or Tung Oil.

    The finish I like is done like this;
    After sanding apply a coat of danish oil and let sit about 30 minutes (before it starts to feel tacky).
    Wipe off all excess with an old t-shirt or other soft cloth.
    Let dry a few hours then repeat.
    Keep applying coats until you like how the handle looks.
    Let that dry overnight.
    Then with 0000 fine steel wool rub down the wood to remove any surface roughness.
    Clean off any dust and then apply final coat of oil.
    Then once again wipe down the handle with a soft cloth.
    Let dry overnight.
    Then apply paste wax, let dry and then buff by hand with a soft cloth.
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  4. #4
    Boiled linseed oil, Danish oil, and Tung oil are all easy to apply, accept repair by re-application, and are food safe.

    Boiled linseed oil is going the give a dull finish, and if over applied can be gummy, but it's also the easiest. It's really flax seed oil treated so it will polymerize faster. Wipe on, allow absorb for an hour or two and wipe off. Re-apply in a day or two, repeat until you have the finish you like. It will never become slick and shiny, but it looks nice and keeps water out of the wood. If it wears off, re coat a couple times. You can wax it if you like, but again it will never fill the wood up enough to get shiny.

    Danish oil also leaves a matte surface, but is harder and more water and wear resistant than linseed oil. Apply like linseed oil.

    Tung oil comes in several types, some of which will leave a mirror surface when applied properly. It's the hardest to apply correctly, and will leave slick handles which you may not like (I don't). Follow the directions exactly, and use a soft one first to fill the wood. High gloss tung oil is tricky, you have to wipe it down after it starts to set but before it becomes to thick to polish out -- wait too long and it smears and makes a mess. The high gloss tung oils are harder to repair as well, since they don't re-dissolve in the new oil much. That means a streaky mess becomes a streaky mess with a shiny gloss coat on top.

    All of these are available at the box stores (Lowes, Home Depot, local good hardware store) or by mail order.


  5. #5
    Can I sand as high as 8000-12000 grit with micro mesh before I start applying this finish? or after? I am looking for something food safe, low maintenance, and gives a good polish (not necessarily mirror finish) that is not slippery. Would Danish oil be a good option?

  6. #6
    Danish oil should be fine. Semigloss finish, probably.

    You can sand to whatever grit you wish before using oil finish.


  7. #7
    Awesome, thanks.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Colorado Springs
    Boiled linseed oil is not food safe because of the additives.
    Raw linseed oil is food safe

  9. #9
    Thanks, that could have caused a problem.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    San Francisco Bay Area
    To the earlier question - it is possible to sand "too fine" before finish but it depends on what finish material you are using.

    Think of wood grain like straws. The finer you sand, the narrower the opening and the more difficult it becomes for the liquid to be absorbed/penetrate deeply.

    If you are using a finish that builds its own surface layer (a varnish , shellac, lacquer) sanding beyond 220 (some might argue 320) before finishing is general wasted effort. Sanding the raw wood is more about getting a good substrate for the finish to bond with. More important is sanding ebtween layers to level the "film" the finish builds up. Those layers you'll want to level and even out to whatever grade creates the sheen/smoothness you seek.

    If you are using a penetrating oil, than the recipe becomes different. Penetrating oil doesn't build a film in the same way. You could sand to 600, 800...even higher if you wanted. The stopping point is really only a matter of the viscosity of the finish. Personally, I would not go higher than 600 because I want deeper penetration....

    One thing to think about in finishing handles is what texture/grip you want to remain once you are left. Some like sheen, others want something more grippy. The materials you use and the level to which you sand will impact that.

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