Another busy week for me and lots of miles on the road, but two very enjoyable demos to show for it. On Monday I was with Test Valley Turners, and on Tuesday I was the guest of Middlesex Woodturners Association. Both were great audiences and the demos flew by, thank you one and all.
A few weeks ago I was telling you about the benefits of using Cut’n’Polish on an old finish that has become sticky; the abrasive in it helps clean the surface and the wax seals it in. The comment was prompted by Mick Giles after using it on this bowl…

We put the picture in our weekly draw to be featured in the Newsletter and this week it came up. Thanks for sharing both the picture and the information Mick.
Do we have some questions..?
Well it’s not often we get a question we haven’t heard before, or that when we do we don’t know the solution. But it’s happened three times this week, and I thought I’d share them with you and would welcome any feedback.

The first one was, perhaps, the oddest one we’ve had for a very long time, and when we tracked down the answer it was a real surprise. The question that came in was this: ‘I’m restoring some old cricket balls using Melamine Lacquer, do you have any better suggestions?’. We were, as this week’s title says, stumped (see what I did there?).
Cricket balls have a leather shell on them (the red bit on the outside), and using lacquer on it seemed very strange to us; the lacquer dries hard and could crack. Wouldn’t something with more flexibility (an oil or wax) be better? We jumped onto the web to investigate, being careful to choose reputable sites. And we were dumbstruck to read that the standard method of finishing a cricket ball is to apply a thin coat of a cellulose based lacquer to the leather outer of the ball. Which is what the Melamine Lacquer is, so whether it is the ‘best’ way or not, it’s the traditional way, and who are we to argue? For refurbishment, the suggestion is a light rub down with a fine abrasive, then apply the lacquer. This bowled me over (okay, no more cricket puns!).

Another question came in asking if it was possible to tint our Tung Oil. This is unusual, as Tung Oil is often chosen because it’s a pure oil with no solvents or other additives so it’s rare to want to add any. Because of this, we had no knowledge of whether our Spirit Stains would work. So Mel put on her mad scientist lab coat and experimented with it.
Spirit Stains are thin enough to mix with most things, including lacquers, varnishes, and even some oils. But not, it seems, Tung Oil. The effect was verging on the spectacular as the oil pulled the colour apart. We used the Green stain, a random choice, and the oil separated it into blue and yellow. I thought that perhaps the stain wouldn’t disperse evenly, but this outcome was totally unexpected.
A water stain almost certainly wouldn’t work, whether an oil-based stain would fare any better we don’t know, but these are quite hard to come by these days.

Still on the subject of tinting things, we were also asked this week if Spirit Stain can be used to colour epoxy resin. This is a bit closer to a lacquer, so I’d expect it to be successful, but as with the previous question, we don’t have any direct experience of it – we simply haven’t had occasion to try it. Unlike with the Tung Oil, we didn’t have any resin either, so we weren’t able to play around with it. I’d expect any problems to show up pretty much straight away if it wasn’t going to work. Things like the stain dropping out of solution or not mixing in properly, but we can’t give a definitive answer on this one. Can you?

So that’s it for the questions this week. If you are signed up for our Woodturning Weekender bulletins you’ll have seen that we’re supporting the Dalmann Timbers appeal for tools for Mozambique. You can read more about this here. They are collecting all tools, not just woodturning – not just wood either, metalworking tools are also welcome.
If you haven’t already heard about this and want to join in, you can drop tools off at any of the outlets mentioned. If none are convenient, just contact Rob at Dalmann and he’ll be happy to work with you to make suitable arrangements.
You can contact Rob via his website. Such ideas are not new, but Rob’s personal involvement will ensure the tools get to where they need to be.

I’ll be back again next week and hope to see you then