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Sander Marechal




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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jan, 2011 2:32 pm    Post subject: A new wooden bench. How to treat it?         Reply with quote

I just spent the entire weekend building a really nice wooden bench with a friend for our reenactment group. See the attached (poor quality) picture for the bench and our smug faces just after we finished. The top and legs are redwood and the beams are spruce (I think. I don't know the exact English terms but this is what Google Translate gave me for "grenen" and "vuren" wood).

Anyway, I am now looking into how we should treat the wood. How was wooden furniture historically treated? And how maintenance intensive is it? Note that this bench will be used outside in our encampment, so it will likely see some rain and wind and wet people sitting on it.

Thanks in advance for any advice. I'll take some better pictures of the bench in teh next few days so you can see exactly how it's put together. It's based on this design from Grey Dragon.



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My friend and me, being all smug and proud of our work.

The Knights Hospitaller: http://www.hospitaalridders.nl
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jan, 2011 2:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Boiled linseed oil.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Chuck Russell




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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jan, 2011 5:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

ya just be careful of the rags afterwards. and do this in a high ventilated area, like outside way outside!

isnt there a linseed/beeswax combo somewhere?
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Sander Marechal




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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jan, 2011 9:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Boiled linseed oil.


Okay, but how maintenance intensive is it after I do that? And what will the oil do for the colour of the bench? Will it darken much?

The Knights Hospitaller: http://www.hospitaalridders.nl
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Ozsváth Árpád-István




Location: Romania
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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jan, 2011 9:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't use more linseed oil than the wood absorb, for it will take weeks to dry. Use a clean rag to put on the material. The first layer will get absorbed quickly so you can repeat the process a few more times after it dries. It will have a slightly darker and a bit yellowish nuance depending on the linseed oil you use. This seals the wood from humidity and it can last for centuries if you don't abuse it, of course...
You can try it first on a piece of wood from the same material you used for the bench.
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Eric Hejdström




Location: Visby, Sweden
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 12:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I usually put on a few layers of boiled linseed oil. Use a rag (old towel is good, don't use paper tissue) and put on quite richly and rub it out with the rag. Rub it until there's no patches of oil on the wood. The bioled linseed oil goes into the wood quite good. Do this a few times and then do the same with raw linseed oil. When the raw linseed oil hardens you get a really strong surface. Just remember to always wipe excess oil off with the rag. Otherwise the surface will become sticky and it will take weeks to dry. As long as you rub it in each time it won't get sticky when it dries.

Nice bench by the way!

And don't forget to burn the rags afterwards!

/Eric
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N Cioran




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 3:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The mantra for linseed oil finishes is:

- Once a day for a week
- Once a week for a month
- Once a month for a year
- Once a year thereafter

Wipe on the oil generously each time, then wipe off the excess.

That said, since you are using redwood, which is not a medievally available wood, I would suggest a painted finish in tempera. Lay down a few thin coat of gesso first to make a better surface for painting if you do.

Hvae fun!
Cole
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 7:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's nothing wrong with a boiled linseed oil finish except that the oil unthinned will take forever to dry. If you're going to use boiled linseed oil I recommend you mix it with an equal amount of paint thinner or turpentine ( which smells better I think). A more efficient alternative would be Watco oil which is really a slow varnish or a wiping varnish, you can probably achieve the same effect with less work.


Shellac has been around for a long time and is a pretty easy finish to apply as long as you're not French polishing. Amber shellac gives a nice warm tone to wood, it can be tinted darker if one wishes and a couple of coats of paste wax will give the bench some protection from water and alcohol, the enemies of shellac. Shellac thins with denatured alcohol which can be dangerous if not used with adequate ventilation so be careful..
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Ozsváth Árpád-István




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 9:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't worry with the methyl-alcohol. As long as you don't drink it, it's harmless Laughing Out Loud
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Sander Marechal




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 10:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for all the advice so far. Linseed oil sounds great, but I am not sure that we have the time to do it properly (I'll have to check with some of the other members in my group). If it was just this one bench it wouldn't be a problem, but we are going to build a lot more stuff for our encampment. More benches, armor boxes, tables, weapon racks, etcetera, etcetera.

Any other alternatives to consider? How a bout waxing for example? Or isn't that a period solution at all? Or how about oiling with a "modern" linseed oil-based floor or furniture oil?

The Knights Hospitaller: http://www.hospitaalridders.nl
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Gabriele A. Pini




Location: Olgiate Comasco, Como
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 11:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For my tableware I used a modern composition of linseed oil and orange juice. It's very good for protect the wood, it dry very quickly and don't require more than one application. Also is pratically edible, so I don't have to worry myself about chemical in my soup (at least not more than in my real life).

That said, it's not very period, so now I will go and flog myself for three Miserere...
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Joel Minturn





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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2011 6:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Found an article on Interior Wood Finishing in Medieval and Renaissance Europe http://www.medievalwoodworking.org/articles.htm The PDF in question is about half way down the page.

I have also heard of Beeswax/Tupintine/Boiled Linseed oil finishes. While it made a nice finish on my crossbow it may be too soft of a finish for a bench.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2011 11:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gabriele A. Pini wrote:
For my tableware I used a modern composition of linseed oil and orange juice. It's very good for protect the wood, it dry very quickly and don't require more than one application. Also is pratically edible, so I don't have to worry myself about chemical in my soup (at least not more than in my real life).

That said, it's not very period, so now I will go and flog myself for three Miserere...


Now that is interesting. Eek! Cool How much orange juice in % to the linseed oil ?

Any specific mixing and application tips ?

Any idea what is happening here chemically: Does the citric acid in the orange juice accelerate the drying process and in what way does it affect the finish in durability and hardness ?

I assume it doesn't become rancid or rot or anything negative over extended periods of time.

Well, I am curious enough to try it on something.

( Would lemon juice do the same thing ? ).

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Sander Marechal




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2011 9:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Gabriele A. Pini wrote:
For my tableware I used a modern composition of linseed oil and orange juice.


Now that is interesting. Eek! Cool


Yes, absolutely. What Jean said. Hold the flogging and post more info.

Joel Minturn wrote:
Found an article on Interior Wood Finishing in Medieval and Renaissance Europe http://www.medievalwoodworking.org/articles.htm The PDF in question is about half way down the page.


Ohhh, now there's a handy website. Thanks!

The Knights Hospitaller: http://www.hospitaalridders.nl


Last edited by Sander Marechal on Wed 26 Jan, 2011 2:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Wed 26 Jan, 2011 12:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This 'medieval varnish' recipe is intriuging, alas I cannot readily get the ingrediants, but it is interesting to think that many timber constructions had a red tinge rather than brown.
Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
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Sander Marechal




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Feb, 2011 12:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Attached are two more pictures of the bench. The first one shows how I reworked the ends of the beams. I didn't like the square ends so I rounded them off. The second picture shows the bench disassembled.

I still could use more advise on how to finish it. I discussed it with the other members in my reenactment group, but doing it with boiled linseed oil is going to take too much time, considering the amount of other items that we are going to make.

The article on medievalwoodworking.org mainly deals with interior finishes, not exterior finishes. This bench will be used outside, though it will most often sit under a our day shade. The article says that using modern furniture oil or wax isn't durable and that wax laquer gives it a very plastic look.

Does anyone have experience using modern furniture oil or wax? I'd prefer not to stain or paint the bench. I quite like it how it is. A shade or two darker would be fine, but not something really dark like most modern stains are.

Thanks in advance!



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The reworked ends of the beams

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Disassembled, easy for transport

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