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Apprentice Visitor
edwardrhine
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎12-19-2011
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Finishing Walnut

I read an article in the May issue about the best method for finishing walnut. Can't find that issue.  I am finishing a project in walnut - any suggestions?

 

Ed Rhine

Honored Advisor
amateur60
Posts: 1,600
Registered: ‎10-24-2009
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Re: Finishing Walnut

What project?  What style, and usage.  There are hundreds of ways to finish walnut well, we need more clues what you are hoping to achieve.

Esteemed Advisor
p_toad
Posts: 3,341
Registered: ‎12-31-2009
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Re: Finishing Walnut

Welcome to the forums.  I don't have that issue handy so i can't reply, but some of the experts will be along shortly to give you a hand.

Senior Contributor
BobWoodworker
Posts: 406
Registered: ‎11-01-2009
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Re: Finishing Walnut

I have been very satisfied with a walnut finish recommended by Steve Mickley on this forum.  Sand through the grits to 180 or 220 grit. The finish begins with a liberal coat of BLO (boiled linseed oil) which is wiped off after letting it absorb into the wood for about 30 minutes.  This really pops the grain/figure of the wood and makes the dark walnut even darker.  Let this dry at least overnight.  Second step is to apply a coat of garnet shellac which seals the wood and makes it a little darker. The shellac dries very quickly so don't overwork when applying and one coat is sufficient.  After the shellac is dry you complete the finish with a top coat of varnish of your choice.  Some folks use poly while others go with Steve's recommendation of P&L 38 or waterlox in the sheen of your liking.  You can wipe or brush the top coat whichever you feel most comfortable doing.  I prefer using a 50-50 mix of P&L 38 varish and mineral spirits wiping it on with a cotton rag and lightly sanding with 400-600 grit in between varish coats. If you are dealing with a table top you might want to use a grain sealer as well for a smoother top.  Good luck, Bob 

Esteemed Advisor
Larry-Jenkins
Posts: 3,315
Registered: ‎10-23-2009
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Re: Finishing Walnut

Here's one I've posted many times.

 

It's a word-for-word description of how the Amish Furniure makers in Main Amana, Iowa finish theirs.

 

Here's the article, with some of my comments, and a Black Walnut Sideboard I made and finished using their methods.

 

Larry

 

 

This is a word-for-word copy of the original finishing process that has been used by the Amana furniture Shop in Amana, Iowa for many years.  I used it to finish a black walnut  sideboard.  The finishing materials can be purchased from the Amana Furniture Shop, 724 48th Avenue, Amana, Iowa  52203, or call 1-319-622-7688.  The bold statements near the end of the article are my additions.

                                      

                                                

 

 

                                            THE AMANA FURNITURE SHOP

 

                                                 Finishing the Amana Way

 

                                                  

Items needed for finishing: 

 

Amana Vintage Sanding Sealer;  Amana Vintage Varnish and  Amana Lemon Oil.  Only available from the Amana Furniture Shop., Amana, Iowa.

 

Soft rags - old sheets, towels, t-shirts

Rubber gloves

Wiping stain and/or wood filler (depending on the wood and desired color)

Tack cloth

Brushes for staining, sealing and top coat (2” badger hair brush recommended)

220, 240 and 320 sandpaper

Very fine grade Scotch Brite pads or 0000 steel wool

Rottenstone (mixed with rubbing oil)  (Woodworkers Supply  - 1-800-645-9292 for this and other supplies) Lacquer thinner for sealer cleanup

Mineral spirits for varnish cleanup

Tin can for soaking brush between coats of varnish.

 

1.  If no stain is to be used, start with step 3.  With a brush or cloth, going with the grain, apply generous amount of wiping stain to one side of the piece then wipe excess stain with a soft, clean cloth.  The longer you let the stain on the wood, the darker it will be.  If you feel the piece is getting too dark, when staining, you may need to stain smaller areas at a time.  Stain the inside of the piece also.  When finished with staining, saturate the rags with water and dispose of properly.  Let the piece dry overnight before applying the sanding sealer.

 

2.  After the piece has dried, you may need to touch-up the lighter areas to blend the color.  Using the same stain, blend the lighter wood only.  Let dry for about an hour before applying sealer.

 

3.  Stir (do not shake) Amana Vintage Sanding Sealer thoroughly before application.  It is a good idea to do this step in an area where no air is moving directly on the piece so sealer does not get tacky.  Going with the grain, apply sanding sealer by brush.  Seal all areas, including underneath and inside of drawers.  When completed, check for any runs which may be brushed out at this time.  Let dry at least 24 hours.  When done sealing, put brush in tin can with lacquer thinner covering the bristles.

 

4.  Sand with 240 or 220 sandpaper, always sanding with the grain until piece is smooth to the touch.  It is very important  to make sure the first sanding is smooth before applying Amana Vintage Varnish.  Before applying Amana Vintage Varnish, dust piece with a tack cloth.

 

5.  Apply the first coat of Amana Vintage Varnish the same way the sealer was applied.  Let dry overnight or longer.  Clean brush with mineral spirits.

 

6.  Sand lightly (Just enough to make sure there arte no runs or rough areas) with 220 sandpaper, always sanding with the grain.  Dust with tack cloth and apply second coat of Amana Vintage Varnish.  Let dry overnight.

 

7.  Sand lightly with 220 sandpaper.  Mostly, you are checking for runs or rough areas (which may be removed by sanding.)  Apply third coat of Amana Vintage Varnish.  In an area with temperature at least 65 degrees or more with very little or no dust, let dry 5 to 7 days before starting the rubbing process.

 

 

                                                                     Rubbing Process

 

 

The rubbing process requires a lot of sanding and patience.  Using 220 then 320 grit sandpaper, going with the grain, sand until the entire varnished surface is sanded and no glossy spots (sparkles) remain.  The sanded varnish should be white and powdery.  If it gums up on the sandpaper, it need to dry longer.  Using Scotch Brite very fine pad or 0000 steel wool, go over the entire piece with the grain.  Do NOT sand in one spot too long or you will make the varnish “hot” and you will rub through.  If this happens, you will need to touch-up the area with stain and varnish and let dry overnight before starting the rubbing process again.

 

 

After all the varnish “sparkles” are gone, it is time for oiling with the rottenstone mixture.  Mix a small amount of rottenstone powder and rubbing oil to a creamy consistency.  Using some pressure, apply mixture with a 0000 steel wool pad or sponge (rottenstone goes a long way so only a small amount is needed.)  Wipe on rottenstone mixture, enough to cover all outside areas of  the piece not the insides. I did all surfaces for quality reasons, not commercial reasons. Wipe off with a soft cloth until all the black rottenstone mixture is removed.  Wipe the entire piece with Amana Lemon Oil.  Now your finished piece will feel like silk.   I did not use oil because I felt it gave the piece an oily look and removed the “satin“ finish look I wanted. 

 

 

 

 

                              Some observations after using this process

 

The original Vintage Varnish specified in the Amana article is softer than the modern polyurethanes and will result in a finish that has a  more pronounced scratch pattern than the newer polyurethanes, which is quite attractive and closely matches the finish on the furniture displayed in their shop in Amana, Iowa. 

 

If you want maximum durability, you could consider using oil-base gloss polyurethane in place of Amana’s Vintage Varnish which is one of the hardest finishes available.  It can be sanded and rubbed out exactly as described in the Amana instructions, but because it‘s harder than the Vintage varnish, it will be smoother and a little shinier.  The shine can be reduced to your liking by rubbing the finished piece with dry 0000 steel wool in long, even strokes with moderate pressure. 

 

I also applied a fourth coat of Vintage Varnish on the top of my black walnut sideboard for maximum durability and did all my rottenstone and oil rubbing with 0000 steel wool.  I felt like I had much better control with the steel wool than I did with the scotch Brite.   A Terry cloth pad can be used with the rottenstone and oil for a softer finish.  Your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Larry Jenkins  2006

 

larry.jenkins@hotmail.com

 

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Good enough.. Isn't.
Honored Advisor
RussBoyd
Posts: 7,823
Registered: ‎10-23-2009
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Re: Finishing Walnut

VERY nice looking piece Larry.

"If you can't hide it...advertise it!"
Esteemed Advisor
Larry-Jenkins
Posts: 3,315
Registered: ‎10-23-2009
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Re: Finishing Walnut

[ Edited ]

Thanks, Russ..

 

It's from a plan in WOOD some years ago.  Theirs was made from Oak.  I used some old air-dried Black Walnut.

 

The Amana Way does result in a very fine finish.  They are only 25 miles from us, so we had an opportunity to go out in their shop and watch them finish some Black Walnut furniture.  What a great experience.

 

Then they were good enough to share their methods with me. 

 

Here's a better image of the Sideboard.  Because the Black Walnut is air-dried, it still has the faint violet graining in the wood that would have been removed if steamed.

 

Larry 

 

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Good enough.. Isn't.
Honored Advisor
ynoT
Posts: 10,510
Registered: ‎10-23-2009
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Re: Finishing Walnut

That's a beauty, Larry.

 

What issue was that plan in, please?

 

Tony

"Why worry about things you can't control when you can keep yourself busy controlling the things that depend on you."
Esteemed Advisor
Larry-Jenkins
Posts: 3,315
Registered: ‎10-23-2009
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Re: Finishing Walnut

Thanks, Tony.

 

I'll look it up for you.

 

Larry

Good enough.. Isn't.
Esteemed Advisor
Larry-Jenkins
Posts: 3,315
Registered: ‎10-23-2009
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Re: Finishing Walnut

Tony..

 

WOOD Issue 77.

 

Look close at my last image.  I changed the top edge profile to one that I thought better matched the Period.

 

Larry

 

 

Good enough.. Isn't.

 

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