I’m writing this whilst still buzzing (or should that be recovering?!) from Makers Central at the NEC last weekend. I know some of you were there, thanks for coming and saying hello, and if you weren’t or didn’t there’s another chance this Friday and Saturday as I’ll be at Woodworks@Daventry.
A recurring theme at Makers Central was about the maintenance of certain finishes and how long they will last, so this week I’m going to run through various products and try to give some advice on them. As this could be a long answer (as if I ever write short ones!) I’m going to make the whole newsletter about this one subject.
First off, if you’re looking for a virtually maintenance-free finish, in normal use at least, then you’ve got to be looking at a lacquer. The Melamine Lacquer, Melamine Gloss Lacquer and Acrylic Gloss Lacquer are all very hard wearing and will withstand a lot of handling, bumps and knocks and, to a point, heat and water. The downside to this is that if the finish does get damaged due to major abuse then it’s much harder to repair and can often need a major cutback and reapplication.
The lacquers mentioned above are designed for interior use and will weather very quickly if used outdoors. If you want to use a lacquer outdoors then any of our acrylic aerosols are fine for the job, they have a built in UV protection and should require very little maintenance even under these conditions. Always keep an eye on them though when possible, any breakdown in the coating, however unlikely, will allow water to get under it causing the wood to swell and the finish to delaminate.
Oils fall somewhere in the middle ground; where an item is being used in contact with food then of course the only coating we suggest for that is the Food Safe Finish, which is a very slow drying oil. This will protect the wood and keep it clean without tainting any food it comes into contact with, and will withstand being wiped with a damp cloth, even one with some washing up liquid on it. A more thorough washing is likely to remove it quite quickly so if this happens another coat or two could be required. The good news is that this is a very easy process.
Finishing Oil and Hard Wax Oil are very hard wearing oils and will stand up to quite a lot, requiring very little maintenance. The main exception is if they are used outdoors. Finishing Oil is better for this as it contains a high level of UV resistance, and depending on the amount of weathering it is subjected to we’d recommend a good clean down once a year and a coat of oil be reapplied. Again, a very easy process.
Lemon Oil is a very low-build product with a near-matt appearance when dry to any damage it might suffer is not usually easy to see. If there is any then it’s normally fixed with just another coat of the oil.
Generally speaking, waxes offer the least resistance but are probably one of the more resilient finishes – they are very flexible and don’t crack or craze in the way that a lacquer would if the wood warps at all or is hit with a great deal of force.
Any damage that a wax does suffer is usually very easy to fix, simply by applying more wax to the affected area. If this is done with something like the White NyWeb it will soften the wax already there and blend in with the new wax to give a seamless repair.
Approaching damaged or marked items from a different angle, minor blemishes and jaded finishes can often be remedied by using the Buffing Wheel system; the first two wheels will remove any marks or small scratches etc whilst the third wheel will apply a top coating offering protection to the piece.
I’ll sign off there for this week, hope to see some of you at Daventry on Friday or Saturday, have a good week,