very basic oiling wood question

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very basic oiling wood question

Postby vikki » Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:01 pm

I have finally finished my first carved willow bowl ( started on Robin Woods course, and tinkered with over the last few weeks :) )
And vaguely recalled advice to oil it- either walnut ( however I have one daughter with a nut intolerance, including walnut) or linseed.
I have been to the healthfood shop and got food grade linseed oil, but how much oil is best? Should I be soaking the bowl in it? Rubbing some in? multiple layers? Warming the oil- I think I heard someone mention that at the course, but I've lost my notes with moving house....
I did a general google before asking here, and one website warned it takes forever to dry, can be claggy, generally not advising it ( though to be fair they were covering a wide range of wood uses, including decking), and I'm scared of ruining something I'm rather chuffed with! I would post a photo however the lead for connecting the camera to the computers has also been misplaced in the move....sigh.
I intend to use this bowl just for fruit, but hope to keep making so might eventually have something we'd use for serving hot food.
I'll be tentatively rubbing a little oil on my bowl while watching for a reply- thanks in advance folks!
novice bowl carver and mum of 2. www.abusymum.blogspot.com (bits of carving and sewing currently- both brand new to me, so sometimes might be of interest!)
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Re: very basic oiling wood question

Postby Ian S » Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:24 pm

Hi Vikki

No doubt some of the others will chime in, but I would

1) Heat the oil up - stand the bottle in a bowl of hot water for 10, 15 minutes. This thins the oil so it penetrates the wood easily.

2) You probably want to use a clean rag to oil the bowl with enough oil to 'wet' the surface, but not leave oil standing on the surface (does this make sense)?

3) Leave the oil to soak in to the wood for about 15 minutes, then wipe off any excess with a cloth.

4) Leave to cure.

Safety warning - be careful when disposing of oily cloths. The oil apparently heats up when drying and lots of oily cloth in a bundle can heat up sufficiently to ignite....

As an aside, I oiled my willow bowl today! I used tung oil (because I bought a tin ages ago, and I need to use it). Slathered the stuff on, then heated the oil and bowl with hot air gun. Most of the oil soaked in beautifully and I wiped the excess off with a cloth. Bowl now sitting at a sunny window to let the oil cure.

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Re: very basic oiling wood question

Postby vikki » Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:31 pm

Thanks Ian, I was lurking reading other threads hoping for a reply :?
Oil heating up now, thank you very much :D
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Re: very basic oiling wood question

Postby arth » Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:44 pm

I've experimented with corn oil. I put my spoons in a food bag and poured in some oil and popped it in the microwave for 30 seconds. I leave it for to soak in the 30 minutes then pour in some more oil and microwave for another 30 seconds. When oil is hotter it penetrates deeper into the wood. This might work with your bowl.
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Re: very basic oiling wood question

Postby SeanHellman » Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:55 pm

Ben Orford recently made me aware of High Barns oil http://linseed-oil.com/, producer of raw linseed oil. I have not yet bought any from this chap, but will do in the future, I much prefer to buy as local as possible.

After using various oils for years, inside and out, I have found that oil has a habit of being washed away, even with applying warm onto warm wood. Oil on outdoor furniture really does not last long and needs to be reapplied at least 3 times a year. My preferred method now is to heat the oil up to 190 degrees c and dip the treen into it for a short period. Linseed can take months to dry, but after using Robin woods plates for nearly a year, it works very well.

I do not like the taint linseed gives to drinking vessels, kuksas etc and do not use it for them, even after curing my cup for months and drinking alcohol and water from it for months again, I can still taste the oil. I dip my cups into melted beeswax and then microwave the wax deep right into the wood. Beeswax is no good for hot liquids and I use ceramic for tea and coffee.
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Re: very basic oiling wood question

Postby vikki » Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:33 pm

Thanks Sean, that's good info to consider. Do you find the oils go rancid at all? My pot of linseed oil has a best before date on it, and I wondered with heating and cooling it might end up with a flavour as well.
How often do you re-oil bowls? I had initially though this might be a few layers job, but that doesnt't sound what anyone is recommending, but to expect to do it again after a time interval.
Hmm, what does the oil actually do-is this a step I can skip and not worry about?
Thanks for the warning about drinks and using beeswax instead- we don't have a microwave but if I make something successful I'll find a way to do that.
Finally, washing up ( sorry, I am a mum so it one of those things I end up doing/nagging about!) -does oiled wood require special consideration? Skip the detergent ( surely that'd get rid of the surface oil?) or use cooler water? Avoid washing unless truly neccesary (my family'd like that one). Again, as this first bowl is just planned for fruit these questions are more for my next work which I hope to use as serving dishes/salad bowls/etc.
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Re: very basic oiling wood question

Postby Nicola Wood » Mon Mar 29, 2010 5:23 pm

I've never had a problem with oils going rancid and I don't think warming and cooling it lots will be a problem. The only things I've seen spoiled by over-oiling are salad bowls which people have regularly oiled with olive oil and never washed, thinking this was good for the wood. Olive oil doesn't cure, it just builds up to be a sticky, claggy mess and gets very unpleasant!

What the oil does is simply soak into the wood and give it a protective layer, stopping anything from your food soaking in. It's not essential. We have spoons that we carved when camping and started using straight away so were never oiled. They are more likely so soak up the garlic flavours from your stew and deposit them in your custard say, but when you're camping it's not a major problem.

As for washing up, I just bung them all in hot, soapy water with the pots and pans etc. The oil should penetrate well into the wood (which is why you warm it first) and what is in there tends to stay in there and protect it long term. The detergents tend to wash the oil out of the surface making it look a bit dry over time, but if you want to tart it up, just wipe a little back on the surface using a bit of kitchen towel.
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Re: very basic oiling wood question

Postby forestdesigns » Mon Mar 29, 2010 6:36 pm

A couple of years ago I made a new kitchen & spoiled myself with a chestnut countertop. I don´t like the look of varnish & find it has a very shortterm resistance to water. So I spent a long time looking for alternatives. There are only two naturally drying (vegetable?) oils, linseed & tung. They create a hard layer which seperates your wood from... whatever. For my countertop, this is not as good as it sounds because when that layer is cut, chipped or cracked you have an opening for water to soak in.

OK, here´s the tricky part. For my countertop I soak the oil very deep to fill the poors with it, so that water can never penetrate deep enough to give me serious problems, eventually the oil sinks deep enough & the pours are more or less permanently filled. The surface oil is constantly wiped & washed off, so nowdays I just need to wipe a little oil onto the surface every once in awhile, or an oil beeswax mixture .

Vegetable oils will eventually turn rancid, so I had to use... something like parrafin oil, or liquid vaselin for the inicial deep penetration, otherwise I would one day have a rancid countertop. With a bowl, spoon, cutting boards, etc., it will constantly be washed away & replaced by fresh oil so this is not a problem.

I have also heard about linseed oil turning goopy & imagine that´s the slooooow process of drying, it´s getting thicker & thicker. So just don´t give it too much, or as has been said, just wipe it off & no problem!

Sean... I´ve stayed at the farm of High Barn oils many years ago for about a week! It´s owner Durwin Banks has a massive kitchen table he built & treated with linseed oil. At the time I had little (never say no) experience as a woodworker, but I don´t remember any yucky stuff anywhere. Just a big beautyfull table he´d built out of recycled material (the floor from a bowling alley) He told me that the only side effect was it turns the wood dark as oxidizations sets in, but I´ve found that happens with all oils on wood.

I´m posting a photo of my countertop... just because I can!
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recently oiled, with an olive branch towel rack
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sweet chestnut countertop, with a spoon hiding the gap that I still haven´t covered... Ooops!
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Re: very basic oiling wood question

Postby RichardLaw » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:29 pm

Not a chemist myself, but ... the advantage of linseed oil is that it polymerises as it oxydises, that is it forms complex, stable three dimentional molecular chains (a bit like polystyrene!). That's a posh way of saying it sets and goes hard (or 'goes off' as a plasterer might say) if you choose to use some other vegetable oil you need to find out whether this polymerisation will happen or not - olive oil positively does not, and therefore your oiled treasure will become tacky in time. Tung oil does polymerise, as the Chinese have known at least since 400BC, however, it is extracted from a nut so is likely to cause allergic reaction in people with nut allergies. Apparently safflower, poppy and soybean oil also set hard, as does walnut oil. Organic oils are subject to going rancid, but that should really only concern you if you're using them as culinary ingredients. None of these grow in Strid Wood, but what does grow there is all very heavy.
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Re: very basic oiling wood question

Postby vikki » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:17 pm

Thanks all, all this info is FABULOUS!
Will bear in mind garlic custard implications.... :)
novice bowl carver and mum of 2. www.abusymum.blogspot.com (bits of carving and sewing currently- both brand new to me, so sometimes might be of interest!)
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Re: very basic oiling wood question

Postby jrccaim » Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:40 am

Any veg oil will do. The pros seem to be in favor of walnut oil. Well and good, but here in Alaska, this is very pricey, about 8USD/200 ml. No thanks. I use canola oil, (which is a contraction of "Canadian Oil") which is very cheap. It is basically, I understand, rapeseed oil. I also use this for cooking -- I buy gallon jugs of the stuff (4 liter) for about 5 USD. If you use your cherished object at all, as I do with spoons, the oil won't last. Just slather some more on. The idea of microwaving is noteworthy, and I have duly noticed it. My daughter has a microwave (I refuse to have one in my house) so soon I will try nuking my freshly oiled spoons. I would never use tung oil on any food-related object. I don't like the tang of linseed, even if food-safe. Olive oil, while not as pricey as canola, I use to cook!

I really must spend more time in this section -- good questions, good answers:).
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Re: very basic oiling wood question

Postby Ian S » Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:38 pm

Hi jrccaim

jrccaim wrote:I would never use tung oil on any food-related object.


Can I ask why not? The stuff that I bought is food safe (assuming you aren't allergic to nuts in general....).

Cheers
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Re: very basic oiling wood question

Postby forestwalker » Sun Apr 04, 2010 1:57 pm

Re Robin Woods deep fat fryer technique: have you tried any other oil than palm oil? I don' like to deplete the rainforests any more than necessary, but the technique does look like it could give a good result.
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Re: very basic oiling wood question

Postby Celtic Eagle » Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:12 pm

I have used Groundnut oil for a fork I recently carved and that seems to work OK anybody else tried it?
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Re: very basic oiling wood question

Postby Nicola Wood » Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:00 pm

forestwalker wrote:Re Robin Woods deep fat fryer technique: have you tried any other oil than palm oil? I don' like to deplete the rainforests any more than necessary, but the technique does look like it could give a good result.

He only used palm oil briefly until he found out how it was produced, but that happened to be the period when he was writing his book. Nowadays he only uses cold pressed linseed oil but in the same way, in the chip pan, and it works fine. (We just have to be careful we choose the right pan when we're doing the chips!)
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