Oiled Finish

Discussion in 'Materials' started by Phil Westendorf, Apr 19, 2014.

  1. Phil Westendorf
    Joined: Jun 2012
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    Location: Saginaw, MI

    Phil Westendorf Junior Member

    I am building a 16 ft. McKenzie River Drift Boat. It is a skin over frame and I will be adding three sections of removable floor boards on the bottom frames (nine total). I would like to use an Oil Finish on these floor boards as the rest of the boat is a Natural Finish which will keep me in the Varnishing mode longer than I'd like, most seasons.

    So, besides Boiled Linseed Oil & Mineral spirits what other additives should I use. I did a search here and elsewhere without the answer I think I am looking for.
    That being Pine Tar, which I kinda remember reading about previously.

    Anybody out there have a recommendation for a recipe for an Oiled Finish. The floor boards will be 1/2" White Ash or maybe White Oak (due to availability & cost).

    phil w.
  2. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Japan drier is all you need, about 2% by volume, with the spirits and oil (tung is much better than linseed BTW). Pine tar adds a very small amount of UV resistance, which is meaningless in the big picture, as you'll have to renew this coating frequently enough that UV resistance is moot. So, a 50/50 spirits/oil mix with a splash of Japan drier, which is available at the local paint or hardware store.

    These traditional oil finishes take a lot of prep, before they can perform. You soak the raw wood with a 75/25 spirit/oil mix on the first couple of go 'rounds, say once an hour for half a day. Progressively decrease the ratio to 50/50 as you progress through the first "wettings" (no drier in these initial "cut" wettings). The following day apply 2 coats, 12 hours apart (with drier) and continue doing this for a few days. Eventually (about a week), you'll have saturated the wood with so much oil, it just will not suck up any more. If the wood is good and soaked, it's still only marginally water repellant, but it's traditional and easy enough to reapply.
  3. Phil Westendorf
    Joined: Jun 2012
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    Location: Saginaw, MI

    Phil Westendorf Junior Member

    Thanks for the reply. Sounds like a plan. I appreciate your and others experience as shared on this site.
    Keep your stick on the Ice, Go Wings!
  4. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Pine tar is black and sticky. You can also use a deck product like Thompson's
  5. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Thompson's is vehicle suspended wax. If you use products like this, the surface can receive only this type of treatment afterward. You can sand the hell out of it and hope you don't get contamination in paint or varnish, but it's a crap shoot.
  6. Easy Rider
    Joined: Oct 2009
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    Location: NW Washington State USA

    Easy Rider Senior Member

    I've used a lot of raw linseed oil and turpentine and as long as I kept putting more on every 2 months or so all went well.

    I used kerosene on the first coats as Peter Culler says it penetrates the wood best. Then went to 20% oil, 15% "Olympic Wood Preservative" and basically turpentine for the rest.

    The oil never dried completely but one could sit on the cap rail and after standing up not having anything on one's pants. Now that I see the pic it looks like I was about ready for a re-coat of the oil mix when the pic was taken. It usually looked a bit better than this.

    But linseed oil is fungus food and after I let the boat sit the cap rail turned black in about a year. I suspect the fresh wood preservative and turpentine kept the fungus or whatever in check. How should I go back to varnish and minimize the amount of wood lost to sanding? It's teak.

    In the pic the winch and cleat platform had some varnish on it but the cap rail was as described above.

    Attached Files:

  7. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    I have attempted various combinations of both tung oil and boiled linseed oil and was not happy with any of the results. It takes forever to turn hard, and will have a dull surface, it will not be very durable (as pointed out) and it will not be waterproof. It is not really cheaper to make your own, vs. buying an oil finish. The various ingredients you need to make it work all add up to much more product than you will need. One traditional mixture that I found in a number of references was boiled linseed oil, beeswax, turpentine. Others include pine tar and kerosine, all stay tacky and soft, and often decompose into sticky goop.

    For this reason I highly recommend just buying some oil based spar varnish or any exterior oil finish product. Even the mass produced stuff from the big box store will be much easier to use, be more durable and give you superior results at a lower cost. If you like shinny bright work use the gloss finish, if you want something less slippery use satin finish.

    Those big paint companies have chemists and laboratories working out various combinations and ingredient over many many decades to come up with something really superior. you will not be able to make something better from any "old fashioned" formula. And certainly not less costly than the mass produced products. You might experiment with some scrap wood and see for yourself, but I have tried for many decades to use "traditional" formulations and have just given up and buy oil finish by the gallon, save money, time and the trouble of stripping off the old gunk to put something on more durable and attractive.

    If the old timers had Home Depot to get their varnish from they would have. all of the old formulations had to be reapplied every few weeks to keep the ship from rotting away, that also gave the crew something to do to keep them busy. So you can try it the "traditional" way, and use cotton canvas and bronze fittings, or use modern finish and make something more durable and much less work to keep nice.
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