I think the semi-gloss sheen of cured BLO is just right for natural finish, solid wood furniture.
My favorite finish hasn’t changed in years and that is probably because I haven’t tried many others. I’m a low risk maker who prefers to stick with a process that has worked for centuries rather than any product that was mixed from unidentified ingredients. A steady regiment of Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO) and elbow grease is just the ticket.
I’ve already written on this topic, so read that entry first. In the time since that entry, I have picked up a few additional tips that have given me more consistent results.
Thanks to my father-in-law for battling the blaze.
– Do not throw your oily (wet) rags in a garbage can. They WILL ignite. I lost my (plastic) garbage can this way. It wasn’t even a hot day. Since that incident, I dispose of my oily rags in a water filled ziplock bag.
– After applying finish, try to wipe off everything you just applied. Seriously, use more than one dry cotton rag and try to wipe it all off. A thick layer of oil will gel and make a tacky surface. A tacky surface will need to be removed with lots of forceful rubbing of a fine abrasive until the surface is no longer sticky. Paper grocery bags and abrasive pads work for this salvage procedure but sandpaper is nearly useless because it will clog very quickly.
– Apply 6 coats of oil or more. Don’t skimp on this just because the surface looks nice after 2 coats. It will look much better after 6 coats (or more).
– I wipe the whole surface with a rough cotton towel as the first step of applying a new coat and again as the last step after I have dried the new coat. This process takes a lot of wiping, but it is not tiring because you do not need to use a lot of force, just a lot of motion.
– Do not apply a new coat if you suspect the previous coat is still wet. If you have the slightest suspicion that the previous coat is uncured, walk away for at least 24 hours. Coating over a layer that is not fully cured guarantees a tacky finish.
– Expect this process to take a few weeks. Sure, there are faster finishes that will work for less patient craftsmen, but I built this dresser over the course of a year and I don’t mind if it takes me a month to get the perfect finish.
The dresser, all finished and ready to be filled with clothes.
The dresser adds the next piece to the bedroom suite. All that’s left is to replace the department store night stands, but I’ve other projects higher on my build list. Think green woodworking.
I hope you have enjoyed this build along. Writing it up has been a lot of work, but fun. Who knows, by the time I get ready to build another case piece I may need to refer to my own instructions.