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Author Topic: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?  (Read 10409 times)

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Offline Bob Gerritsen

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Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« on: August 07, 2012, 04:51 PM »
This is a bit of an emergency, I have to finish a walnut table tomorrow (although I could delay it with another day if needed) and want to do this with an oil/varnish mix.

From what I understand I need boiled linseed oil, polyurethane lacquer and turpentine, right? This is the first time I want to make this mix in Switzerland (used to work in the Netherlands) and so far I've noticed some things can be hard to find. So I need to know what the deal is with this oil/varnish mix. For instance, can I use NON boiled linseed oil? What exactly can I or can't I use for solvent? And the same with the varnish or lacquer (not sure if there is a difference as English is not my first language), what can go in and what can't?

I've looked for boiled linseed before but have only found non boiled, there's plenty varnishes out there but I do not know what makes a good candidate exactly so cannot make a proper decision when picking.

I realize my questioning is rather broad but the thing is I will go shopping for the ingredients tomorrow and I'm not sure what I'll find. Meanwhile I no very little on this subject or finishing in general (it's on my to read up on list...) so need all the knowledge I can squeeze out of you.

Let's call it Maloof finish for dummies. ;) All advice input is highly appreciated!! Thanks in advance.

Cheers! Bob.

Btw, It's bedtime over here so pardon the delay in response.

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Offline RonWen

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2012, 06:01 PM »
There are no doubt shipping restrictions that would prevent your buying the Rockler prepared Maloof finish however one of the reviewers listed his mixture which as I recall is what Mr. Maloof used.   http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=2004&site=ROCKLER

Online Scott B.

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2012, 08:11 PM »
Back in the 90's I did a bunch of this recipe:

-boiled linseed oil
-oil polyurethane (minwax)
-turpentine

Equal parts of all 3. Here in the states, boiled linseed is readily available at most hardware stores. If you cannot get it, use the nonboiled and reduce it with mineral spirits to a workable and mixable consistency. Be sure to sample well before going live. Its a nice finish, but there are definitely more user and eco friendly options today to a similar or better result.

Online davee

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2012, 08:20 PM »
I believe the recipe is two parts - the first as listed above with multiple coats applied.  The second is "handfuls of shredded beeswax to equal parts boiled linseed oil and raw tung oil".  The second is heated in a double boiler to melt the wax.  The mixture should have the consistancy of heavy cream.  The second part is also applied several times.

Online Tim Raleigh

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2012, 09:10 PM »
Here's a quote from Sam Maloof I picked up from another site.

"It is a mixture of one-third linseed oil, one-third raw tung oil, and one-third semigloss urethane varnish. I apply it generously and then rub it off completely so there isn't a wet spot left anywhere. I let it sit overnight and then add another coat. The process is repeated about 4 times. Then I make a batch of finish that is half linseed oil and half tung oil with some shredded beeswax mixed in. I put two coats of that finish on, and the chair's finished, ready to be used."
I bought some Festools...

Offline JJ Wavra

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2012, 10:20 PM »
Here's a quote from Sam Maloof I picked up from another site.

"It is a mixture of one-third linseed oil, one-third raw tung oil, and one-third semigloss urethane varnish. I apply it generously and then rub it off completely so there isn't a wet spot left anywhere. I let it sit overnight and then add another coat. The process is repeated about 4 times. Then I make a batch of finish that is half linseed oil and half tung oil with some shredded beeswax mixed in. I put two coats of that finish on, and the chair's finished, ready to be used."
This is the recipe that I have from an article maloof wrote. 
JJ

Offline Bob Gerritsen

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2012, 12:53 AM »
Thanks guys, that does help.

So in the end I can use non boiled linseed, that's good to know. I will try to score some tung oil but have never seen it here so might fall back on oil poly. Anyway, I feel much more confident now.
 
The second mix brings up other questions though... Forgive my ignorance but for that second part of the finish; how exactly does the shredded beeswax become liquid/part of the mix? Do I heat that mix or just stir it?

By not applying the second mix, what do I loose? Is it less pretty or also less strong, maybe less water resistant?

Cheers, Bob.

Offline Ken Nagrod

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2012, 12:57 AM »
I thought that linseed oil that wasn't truly boiled linseed oil, took forever to dry?

Offline RonWen

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2012, 12:59 AM »
Thanks guys, that does help.

So in the end I can use non boiled linseed, that's good to know. I will try to score some tung oil but have never seen it here so might fall back on oil poly. Anyway, I feel much more confident now.
 
The second mix brings up other questions though... Forgive my ignorance but for that second part of the finish; how exactly does the shredded beeswax become liquid/part of the mix? Do I heat that mix or just stir it?

By not applying the second mix, what do I loose? Is it less pretty or also less strong, maybe less water resistant?

Cheers, Bob.

Unless I missed something everyone uses boiled linseed oil -- raw linseed oil is so much different I can't imagine it would dry to a nice finish.  Perhaps others can clarify that point.  I wouldn't want to see you spoil a nice project.

Ken posted at the same time I did, sounds like he is thinking the same. 
« Last Edit: August 08, 2012, 01:01 AM by RonWen »

Offline CharlesWilson

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2012, 09:14 AM »
I thought that linseed oil that wasn't truly boiled linseed oil, took forever to dry?

That is my understanding, also. 
Charles Wilson

Online Tim Raleigh

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2012, 09:54 AM »
So in the end I can use non boiled linseed, that's good to know. I will try to score some tung oil but have never seen it here so might fall back on oil poly. Anyway, I feel much more confident now.
I wouldn't use non-boiled linseed oil. While Tung oil is considered a "dryer" pure linseed oil takes forever to dry. Personally I hate it.
Both Lee valley and Rockler carry Pure tung oil. Just make sure it doesn't contain any petroleum distillates. People with peanut allergies are sensitive to Tung oil.

The second mix brings up other questions though... Forgive my ignorance but for that second part of the finish; how exactly does the shredded beeswax become liquid/part of the mix? Do I heat that mix or just stir it?

Traditionally beeswax is dissolved in Turpentine. Since I have never used Tung oil or this recipe I am not really sure but my first guess is that the Tung oil will dissolve the beeswax.

By not applying the second mix, what do I loose? Is it less pretty or also less strong, maybe less water resistant?

Can't help you there. It does make it "water repellant" other than that not sure.
Tim
I bought some Festools...

Online davee

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2012, 10:02 AM »
Thanks guys, that does help.

So in the end I can use non boiled linseed, that's good to know. I will try to score some tung oil but have never seen it here so might fall back on oil poly. Anyway, I feel much more confident now.
 
The second mix brings up other questions though... Forgive my ignorance but for that second part of the finish; how exactly does the shredded beeswax become liquid/part of the mix? Do I heat that mix or just stir it?

By not applying the second mix, what do I loose? Is it less pretty or also less strong, maybe less water resistant?

Cheers, Bob.

My understanding of boiled linseed oil is that it has a drying component added to allow for a faster drying time.  I don't think that plain linseed oil would work for the finish.  For the second mix, the wax is melted into the other components.  This is typically done using a double boiler with water below.  It is recommended that this be done outdoors as there is a real potential for fire.  This finish is hand rubbed on and provides lustre to the finish.

It was mentioned above that a similar finish can be achieved using easier products - I suspect this is true.  This finish is time consuming.  We just finished a bench using this technique (we in that I made the bench and my wife did the finish).  The table next to the bench has a traditional polyurethane.  The bench the Sam Maloof finish.  In my wife's words, you see the finish on the table (smooth, shiny, etc.), but see the wood on the bench.  

The finish didn't jump out until the wax portion was added.  As is, my wife is considering another (fourth coat) to be truly finished.

Offline CharlesWilson

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2012, 10:36 AM »
I can guarantee that Maloof didn't adopt that recipe on a whim.

Charles
Charles Wilson

Online Tim Raleigh

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2012, 10:57 AM »
We just finished a bench using this technique (we in that I made the bench and my wife did the finish).  The table next to the bench has a traditional polyurethane.  The bench the Sam Maloof finish.  In my wife's words, you see the finish on the table (smooth, shiny, etc.), but see the wood on the bench.  

The finish didn't jump out until the wax portion was added.  As is, my wife is considering another (fourth coat) to be truly finished.

That Bench looks awesome! Congratulations.
My wife often complains that we don't do enough together, perhaps I should suggest we build a bench like this.
I often ask if she would like to join me on a trip to Home Depot but it doesn't go over to well [big grin].
Tim
I bought some Festools...

Online joraft

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2012, 12:35 PM »

... We just finished a bench using this technique (we in that I made the bench and my wife did the finish).  



That's a great looking bench, Davee! Nice work!
John

Offline RonWen

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2012, 04:03 PM »

My understanding of boiled linseed oil is that it has a drying component added to allow for a faster drying time.  I don't think that plain linseed oil would work for the finish.  For the second mix, the wax is melted into the other components.  This is typically done using a double boiler with water below.  It is recommended that this be done outdoors as there is a real potential for fire.  This finish is hand rubbed on and provides lustre to the finish.

It was mentioned above that a similar finish can be achieved using easier products - I suspect this is true.  This finish is time consuming.  We just finished a bench using this technique (we in that I made the bench and my wife did the finish).  The table next to the bench has a traditional polyurethane.  The bench the Sam Maloof finish.  In my wife's words, you see the finish on the table (smooth, shiny, etc.), but see the wood on the bench.  

The finish didn't jump out until the wax portion was added.  As is, my wife is considering another (fourth coat) to be truly finished.

Strikingly beautiful! 
(It's easy to see why walnut was Mr. Maloof's favorite wood.)

Offline Bob Gerritsen

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2012, 04:57 PM »
Thanks again for the feedback everyone!

I did find boiled linseed oil today and made some samples with two lacquers I thought might qualify. However, the only polyurethane I could find was water based. Although I know way too little when it comes to finishes, I figured that water wouldn't go well with the oil. ;) Anyway, I made samples with two lacquers, one was called 'boat varnish' and the other I can't recall at the moment. I used equal measures for the three parts but ended up with something very very thin in both cases. The first samples looked ok, however my gut feeling was thicker would be better. Plus I have no idea yet how these product differ from the poly as used in Maloofs mix. Eventually I passed by a pro shop and explained the man what I wanted to do. He needed to digest the idea of mixing lacquer with linseed oil for a couple of minutes but eventually called some tech guy from his main brand and we've found something I hope. It will arrive Friday, can't wait to try it!

This finish does turn into more work than foreseen (especially with the second wax mix) but I'm determined to make this work. Plus I want to read up on finishing soon, very annoying I'm completely in the dark here.

Thanks again, will report back with pics of the table.

Cheers, Bob.

Ps; that bench looks killer Davee, thanks for sharing.

Offline Bob Gerritsen

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2012, 02:03 PM »
Hi all,

Although I don't have the pics yet to proof it, I did manage to find a great quality poly and boiled linseed oil and this finish has turned out smashing!! I mean, the walnut has a deep dark tone that is just yummy and like Davee's wife says, you really do see the wood and not the finish. Right now the table is in a garage, it was in the way in the shop, which doesn't have good enough lighting to get some pics but I will provide those later, promised.
Now, I still have to apply the mix with the wax in it but would like to know something first.

1- After the wax mixture, could I still apply the first oil mixture in the future? I think generally after wax there is no going back to oil but I'm hoping it is different with this.
2- Is it a great loss for the finish if I leave it at this first mixture? I've applied four coats now, should be good and it already looks great but I simply cannot judge what the wax mixture will add to it. Is it just the satin gloss or something protective also? The poly protects plenty I would guess.

The reason I ask is I always like to leave some finish with the clients so they can do the occasional touch up. Maybe I can still do this with the second mixture as it does have oil in it but I simply don't know.

Also, I still have to find shredded bees wax and not quite sure where to get that. It would be somewhat of a relief if I can leave it at this. Still, if it really is worth it I'm going for it.

All advise is appreciated!

Cheers, Bob.

Offline Geezertom

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2014, 03:50 PM »
Sam's original finish was 1/3 pure tung oil, 1/3 beeswax, 1/3 polyurethane varnish.  I got this directly from him when I attended a class at his house/workshop.  You melt them all together in a double boiler.  Because of the polyurethane, you have to be careful if you are using a gas stove.

What I don't remember is how long you let this finish sit before wiping it down and how many times you apply it.

Offline woodguy7

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Re: Sam Maloof oil/varnish finish, what's in it exactly?
« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2014, 05:01 PM »
Must try that recipe, thanks.

If its made of wood, i can make it smaller.
Shirt size medium
p.s- ive started reading these too