Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 188, May 2021 Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
Finishing: Make Your Oil Finishes Last Longer
By Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher

Way back in the 70s, while I was in college, finances were really tight and finding a job was virtually impossible, or so it seemed to me at the time. Luckily, I ended up finding a job with a fellow named Otis who ran an antique shop not far from school.

He would come and pick me up from school and on the way back to the shop he would take a longer route so he could search the trash piles and whatever else that was on the side of the road. Otis would pick up anything that he could possibly use in the shop...used wood, the occasional old can of paint, or rusted pieces of metal. He was especially interested in old rusty sheet metal that he would use to make repairs on primitives, where he would nail a small piece onto the back of a sideboard or in the back of a drawer where rats had eaten their way through the soft pine.

Besides restoring primitives, Otis would build the occasional reproduction and incorporate some of his finds like old oil paint for example. Most houses back in the day were painted white with black trim so plenty of half full cans of paint were easy to find. Otis would open them up and if the paint was any good at all he would add a touch of turpentine and stir it in. He would then cover the paint completely with plastic wrap so air couldn't get to it when he replaced the lid. He would then store the paint upside down to help keep it useable. He always tested it to make sure it would dry by adding more turpentine and brushing it on a piece of scrap.

I recently did this this with a can of old polyurethane and since oil based paint is varnish with added pigments we'll see how it goes without the pigments...stay tuned for a tip this Summer where I will analyze the results.

Click here to visit the Highland Woodworking Finishing Department

Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at alannoel@comcast.net.

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