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Thread: Remoisturizing dry wood

  1. #1
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    What do you put on really dried-out wood to help restore it, besides linseed oil? Mineral oil? My mahogany was so dry it soaked up varnish like a sponge, so I've been applying endless coats of linseed oil, hoping to varnish over it some day. That wouldn't work on new wood.

  2. #2
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    Oh come on, somebody must have some suggestions, what do you put on really dry wood to bring it back to life?

  3. #3
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    Water.

    [ 11-27-2002, 07:07 PM: Message edited by: thechemist ]

  4. #4
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    Why are you bothering with the linseed oil? Un less I'm missing something, what could be better than a really dry piece of wood, and If you want to varnish it, then start varnishing!
    Start out with a couple coats of 50/50 ratio of varnish and thinner, or better yet, cpes to seal up the wood, then start building up with the varnish.
    Bill

  5. #5
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    BOTOX ? - Boiled linseed oil seems to be the choice of the canoe people. There are some 100-year-olds out there, being worked on. I think the idea is to arrest or reverse the brittle characteristic of the old cedar. It may never actually come back, but future working won't cause it to crumble (I hope).

  6. #6
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    It's dead..... It wont ever come back to life.... You're just going to have to learn to deal with that fact.

  7. #7
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    Originally posted by Keith Mount:
    What do you put on really dried-out wood to help restore it, besides linseed oil?
    When you say "really dried-out", what do you mean?

    Do you mean wood that's sitting at Equilibrium Moisture Content (10.6-12.6 percent for Newark NJ) or do you mean wood that's been cooked in the sun until it looks heavily weather, grey, weatherbeaten and lifeless -- kind of like driftwood?

    If it's the former, you do nothing. If it's the latter, you replace the wood.

    Once wood gets to that state, there's not much you can do as the wood is gone, finito, deceased.

    The lignin (the polymer that holds the wood fibers together and gives wood its water repellency) has been destroyed by ultraviolet (UV) light. Among other byproducts, the photochemical degradation of lignin produces free radicals and acids. Guess what happens when you dump acid on wood?

    FWIW, there was a piece on Morning Edition (NPR) concerning Fort Apache on the White River Apache Reservation. It's up at 5000+ feet altitude. The US Government is supposed to be holding it "in trust" for the White River Apaches. Some of the buildings haven't had any maintenance since 1922. They quoted someone from the Apache Nation that in stabilizing one of the officer's houses, it took 288 gallons of paint to get the house painted.
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  8. #8
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    Well thank you for that. I mean dry in the sense that it soaks up varnish or oil like a sponge. A day or two after getting a good sanding and varnishing it looks and feels like it hasn't been touched. I guess from what everyone said here I should just keep sanding and varnishing til the end of time. I picked up this notion that if I put on endless coats of linseed oil it would get to a point where it felt rejuvenated, but I guess varnishing over linseed doesn't work too well. Thought maybe someone would come up with something like mazola or mineral oil or Pledge or motor oil or something. Guess not.

    How do you measure moisture content anyway?

  9. #9
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    Moisture content is measured with a moisture meter. Kiln dried wood is usually in the 6-8% range which is ideal for turning and furniture building. Other uses may require air dried or green wood with a higher moisture content. For more info on meters go to:

    http://www.lignomatusa.com/handheld/index.htm

    Ralph

  10. #10
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    I was tempted to yank your chain, but... naw...

    Look, ALL wood without anything on it will look like you describe if you put a coat of varnish on it. If you sand that coat of varnish off and put another one on, it will look the same. And on and on ad infinitem.

    It takes maybe at least four or five coats of varnish to start looking decent and eight or ten to really be done right... without counting what you sand off between coats.

    Build up your varnish base. Just slap it on and let it dry. Then use a medium grit Scotchbrite pad (burgundy colored) to rub the gloss off between coats. After you have four or five coats on it, only then sand with 120 grit to get the surface fair and the imperfections out. Then start building up again, wiping with the Scotchbrite pad between coats. It will start looking fine. However, if you sand off each coat after you put it on, it will never look any better than the first coat... ya folla?

  11. #11
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    Some times ethylene glycol auto antifreeze will do what you are attempting. It acts like a non-volatile water in this case.
    Born June 14, 1921
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  12. #12
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    Had a similar problem with the mahogany cockpit sides and saloon on my boat where the wood had gone very light in colour... then someone had slapped on coats of garden furniture preservative.
    I took advice from a Finnish gent whose Vertue I had long admired and used a "saturant" woodseal. Deks Oilje, Endeavour Oil and Le Tonkoise are all in the same family, different recipes. The first five or six coats should literally saturate the wood. The first two have a finishing version, but still rely on multiple coats to build.
    I don't believe traditional varnish, even thinned 50/50 would have done the job. Unlike varnish the saturants don't need flatting between fresh coats.

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by Dave Carnell:
    Some times ethylene glycol auto antifreeze will do what you are attempting.<snip>
    Check with whatever manufacturer makes the varnish or other coating you are planning on putting on wood treated in such a manner to get their agreement that this is a good idea before you do this.

    I am definitely not in favor of it.

    There have been many previous discussions of this practice.

    See, for example, http://media5.hypernet.com/cgi-bin/U...=1&t=002241&p=

  14. #14
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    I never said I was sanding it all off again Bob.

  15. #15
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    Keith, "Poppie's" (my grandfather) tool box was old, dry, and warped (that's another story). Saturating it with linseed oil actually did a lot in terms of returning some pliability to the wood. The Devas of varnishing advocate "wet" sanding using linseed oil and W/D paper. You might want to review their book.

    You might also do a search for one of the best explanations ever on how to varnish. It's a lot shorter than their book (sorry, I can't remember their names) and it's free, and done by our own major-league resource, Bob Cleek.

    For the record, I've used their linseed oil method and it does generate good results.
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  16. #16
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    Keith-
    before you spend too much money on multiple coats of varnish, make sure what you are dealing with: is the wood dry and the surface (only) is rough, or is it rotting and needs to be replaced? Can you penetrate the surface with a poke of an ice pick or pen knife? If yes, replace it. If no, the its a surface problem and you should remove the bad material to expose solid, good wood before proceding.
    That being said, Watco sells an outdoor tung oil with a UV inhibitor that they claim penetrates and strengthens- their claim not mine. At any rate, lot cheaper than varnish and once its dry you can varnish over it.
    Matt

  17. #17
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    Bob... Why burgundy color pad?

  18. #18
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    Originally posted by Jim Budde:
    Bob... Why burgundy color pad?
    The 'scotchbrite' type abrasives are made for metal finishing. The common brands are

    Norton's Beartex. Comes in different grades, identified by color, White, Maroon and Grey (coarse to fine).

    3M Scotch-Brite Surface Conditioning Abrasives. Scotch-Brite comes in well...a lot of different grades and forms. They make gold, white, grey and maroon (2 kinds), but I don't know how it compares to Beartex. And that doesn't include the common green flavor for food service, etc. Here's the url for Scotch-brite (evidently, there's a 180 character limit on URLs in the forum software):

    http://products3.3m.com/catalog/us/en001/auto_marine_aero/automotive_aftermarket/node_GSZQWS9M2Rge/root_GST1T4S9TCgv/vroot_GSLPLPKL4Xge/theme_us_aad_3_0/command_AbcPageHandle r/outp ut_html

    One of the two flavors of maroon uses 3M's Imperial line of abrasive on it -- cubic zirconia or some such abrasive, supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread (for some definition of 'best' and for certain purposes. YMMV.)

    [ 12-04-2002, 04:26 PM: Message edited by: Nicholas Carey ]
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  19. #19
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    The wood's nice and hard, no soft spots except under the windshield where water pooled. It was neglected, and it absorbs the varnish unevenly, that's all. As long as that's happening there's no way you're going to get one of those mirror finishes we all lust for. I did several coats of linseed on the mahogany bow and will varnish over that in the spring - some people just have to find these things out for themselves.

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