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Thread: Neatsfoot oil on timber

  1. #1
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    Default Neatsfoot oil on timber

    Hello! I'm trying and testing neatsfoot oil mixed with turps - about 50/50 - on some western red cedar at the moment, in order to work out whether or not it would work as a protective oil for thwarts, transom and stem on the dory I'm building at the moment. King Billy Pine and Celery Top pine (both Tasmanian, for you international folk) are being used for thwarts/transom and stem respectively, and I'd rather not go down the varnishing path this time - I do enough of maintaining it at work haha! I'll go with the same for the spars if all goes well.

    The neatsfoot/turps mix is up to it's fourth coat in 2 days, and I could have applied more, and so far the wood's got a great depth and smooth, absorbed, finish. What are your thoughts? Does anyone know how it will last, with regular, say every few months or so, application? I'm sure I'm not the first, but my (shipwright) boss hasn't ever tried it.


    Thanks,
    Andy

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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    I'll be interested to hear how it goes Ando, I've only ever used neatsfoot oil on leather (horse tack) and haven't actually used it on timber before, though I've heard of it being used on interior furniture but as a rejuvenating product rather than a finishing product. I have no idea how it'd go in the sun and rain long term. What made you think to use it?
    Larks

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    I've only ever used it on my oar leathers as well. I've been pondering and reading about different oil finishes - linseed, tung, pine tar - and then neatsfoot came to mind, and here I am. We'll see how it goes hey. I'm coating a chunk of celery top at the moment, and i'll leave it outside for a few weeks and get back to you.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    Long term on leather it seems to rot the stitching. never tried it on wood.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    Uses of neatsfoot oil from Wikki

    Uses

    Neatsfoot oil is used on a number of leather products, although it has been replaced by synthetic products for certain applications. Items such as baseball gloves, saddles, horse harnesses and other horse tack can be softened and conditioned with neatsfoot oil.
    If used on important historical objects, neatsfoot oil (like other leather dressings) can oxidize with time and contribute to embrittling.[6] It also may leave an oily residue that can attract dust. On newer leather, it may cause darkening (even after a single application), thus may not be a desirable product to use when the maintenance of a lighter shade is desired. Neatsfoot oil is more useful for routine use on working equipment.
    Neatsfoot oil is often used to oil sign-writers' brushes that have been used in oil based paint, as this oil is non drying and can be easily washed out with solvent at any time. By oiling the brushes it reduces the build up of pigment in the ferrule, the metal part that many brushes have to hold the hairs in place.
    Neatsfoot oil is used in metalworking industries as a cutting fluid for aluminium. For machining, tapping and drilling aluminium, it is superior to kerosene and other water-based cutting fluids.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    Neatsfoot on timber? Why?

    There are so many tried and true wood treatments. Why try to reinvent the wheel with something that doesn't have any sort of track record for its intended axel?

    BTW, what is a neat, and why are his feet so oily?
    Schooner Captains Love to Get Blown Offshore

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    It doesn't harden, you're gonna get an oily bum.

    Neatsfoot oil is a yellow oil rendered and purified from the shin bones and feet (but not the hooves) of cattle.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    Quote Originally Posted by Gib Etheridge View Post
    Neatsfoot oil is a yellow oil rendered and purified from the shin bones and feet (but not the hooves) of cattle.
    I guess "Cowsfoot Oil" didn't make it past the marketing dept..
    Schooner Captains Love to Get Blown Offshore

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    Interesting idea anyway. Historically I know they used fishoil, but I can't recall any reference to neatsfoot oil. I'm guessing a dog would happily chew on those thwarts.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    ...as this oil is non drying and can be easily washed out with solvent at any time
    Sort of the opposite of what you want a wood finish to do. I'd suspect is may grow mold too.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    I soaked some leather in neats foot oil last spring and then made up some leathers for a set of oars. The stuff still seeps from the oar leathers and gets all over the finish of my car when the oars are on the roof rack, especially when it's raining. I can't ever imagine deliberately putting this stuff on wood. It's going to be a constant mess. Maybe Japan drier might work to solidify it.

    BTW, neats were another name for young cattle in some bygone era. Apparently the liquid-like fat in the shins allowed the stock to tolerate low temps and snow.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    Quote Originally Posted by SchoonerRat View Post
    Neatsfoot on timber? Why?

    There are so many tried and true wood treatments. Why try to reinvent the wheel
    This
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    Thanks for the feedback fellas. I'm not trying to reinvent anything. I like the soft finish that neatsfoot oil gives, and that's what I'm aiming for. Synthetic timber oils are out of the equation, along with varnish. I've read of linseed oil's blackening of timber, and as much as that suits a certain aesthetic and style that I'd love to try one day, this isn't the time. What about tung oil? Pricey from what I've seen, but it'd do a fine job for a soft, matte, oiled look, right?

    I'll get some Japan drier and see what happens hey. And mold? We'll see how my tests go as well.
    My boss soaked some Tufnol fairleads in neatsfoot oil for the past day, if that adds to anything.

    Thanks,
    Andy

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    3 parts turpentine
    2 parts boiled linseed oil
    1 part traditional spar varnish

    Flood the wood surface, buff well with 400 grit wet or dry paper, wipe off excess, let dry, repeat as desired.

    Save the neat's feet for your topsiders.
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    A little while on, and the offcuts of Huon, Celery top and King Billy pine, have held up surprising well. I'll take some photos tomorrow and get them on here.

    Andy

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    I'll add to the chorus - don't do it. I wasn't even happy with trad boat soup (50/50 boiled linseed oil / real turpentine) treatment on my fir thwarts and floorboards, as it got sticky in the hot sun and let a lot of mud and dirt into the wood grain. Ended up taking them back down to wood and using marine varnish.

    Oil finishes are more common in colder climates, with varnish and paint predominating as you go southwards. Good reasons for this, as you'll discover.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    I stopped using Neat's foot oil when I discovered Mink oil.....
    I find squeezing the oil out of minks to be much more rewarding than squeezing the oil out of cow shins.....
    Never trust a man with a clean workshop.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    I remember riding a Brooks bicycle saddle that had been soaked in Neatsfoot oil. It kept seeping back out. Then the leather got hard anyway. Pointless stuff.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    It sounds like an appetizing meal for fungi...

    Not really the guy to invite to the banquet.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    Quote Originally Posted by seedy View Post
    I remember riding a Brooks bicycle saddle that had been soaked in Neatsfoot oil. It kept seeping back out. Then the leather got hard anyway. Pointless stuff.
    SOAKING is likely the culprit for this problem. I use mink oil, but application should be pretty much the same. Apply to surface, let sit for a few minutes, wipe off the excess. Soak your leather and you'll be able to wring it out like a damp sponge for some time to come.
    Schooner Captains Love to Get Blown Offshore

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    Here are some photos. Thanks for the replies and ideas. Started testing Tung, BLO, varnish and turps combinations as well. I quite like what I've seen so far today with a combination of BLO, tung, varnish and (mineral) turps.
    Huon Pine


    Celery Top


    King Billy


    Another piece of celery top


    Enjoy,
    Andy

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    Andy,

    Nice that you posted fotos. Unfortunately, I have no idea what I'm looking at. Can you supply a narrative to go along with each image, or are you just posting for your own record?
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    My bad, guys, the wood in the pictures has been sitting outside for a couple of months with only a few coats of neatsfoot oil thinned with turps. The surface is still slightly 'waxy', but not oily, and that's only noticed when you rub it. Just doing this to see what it's like. Maybe it's a bit pointless, but I think it's worthwhile to see what other options there are for finishes.

    Andy

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Neatsfoot oil on timber

    Worth doing Ando, as much as there is some wonderful advice on this forum there's also a lot of unsubstantiated opinion and I've found there's nothing better in the end than trying it first hand yourself and seeing what you come up with........a close second to doing it first hand though is watching someone else doing it first hand on the forum and seeing the results as they come through, so thanks for doing this and passing on the results.
    Larks

    "Be who you are and say what you feel...
    Because those that matter...don't mind...
    And those that mind.... don't matter."

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