Sheen On My Natural Oil Finish


From original questioner:

I work with American hardwoods and typically finish my projects with Sam Maloof's tung oil, linseed oil, and beeswax formula following his two-step multi-coat process. I get a real smooth, buttery satin finish but I'm wondering if there should be, or if there is a way, to achieve a more reflective finish. Up close the finish looks real nice and feels great but from a distance it doesn't reflect light in the way I would like it to. (I sand up to 400-grit prior to finishing.) I've noticed in Sam Maloof's books that his project photos have beautiful shiny polishes on edges and surfaces. Is that maybe just the result of fancy photography or did he really achieve those shiny surfaces with his hand-rubbed finishing method? If so, I seem to be missing something.

From contributor Sc

Good old paste wax and elbow grease!

From contributor Ro

You need to do the following: apply oil (choose linseed, tung, watco, maloof, etc.) liberally and use wet/dry sandpaper to make a slurry and apply pressure, covering all the wood. Start the process with 320 grit and proceed through 2000/2500 grit. Each step you wipe on the slurry, allow to penetrate for a period of ten to twenty minutes, wipe off the excess and then wait 24 hours before applying the next coat of slurry. The wood has to be thoroughly dry to the touch, no oily residue should be present....if so, wait another 24 hours. Do you get the picture. The necessary grits in progression is: 320/400, followed by 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500, 2000, 2500. That's what I have done for walnut panels and the sheen is exquisite. It took two weeks for the process to come alive. Looking at the wood directly, the wood appears to have no sheen whatsoever, looking at an angle and the wood pops with a 60 degree sheen. On wood panels I was able to use an orbital (festool rotex) sander to achieve the above.

From contributor Da

Thanks Robert and Scott. I've never tried paste wax but will now. And I think maybe I haven't been wiping my Maloof oil coats off enough and/or letting them dry enough between coats. I do usually wait 24 hours but even then I've noticed that when I pick an item up and then remove my hand I can see my fingerprint left behind on a thin layer of oil. Is this common or do I need to dry it more? Also, I noticed today that some walnut that I'd finished months ago now has some spots where the finish has turned a dull white. When I rub those areas lightly very small white flecks roll off. Feels like it could be dried beeswax. Not sure what I should conclude from it though. Maybe too much wax in my formula. Any ideas?

From contributor jw

I have been using water lox for about 40 years .
This is what I do .
first sand to 220 , blow off , get nylon stockings from your wife ect , fold into a smooth pad ( note , you will not have any lint of any kind , this is the best dust free applicator as you will find ) . dip the pad into the t.o. and just pad it onto the wood . the idea here is to go with the grain in straight passes and leave a thin coat on the wood ( to wait 10-15 minutes and wipe dry will get you nowhere ) . then walk away for 2 days , now because the t.o. dry s so slowly you will get dust in the finish so sand with 320 to remove all particles . and repeat . you will find that the first 2-3 coats go on with little problems , and anyone can get good results if they stop at 2-3 coats but you will not have much of a build what separates the men from the boys is to continue for 10 -12 coats , as you start to build the finish it gets harder and harder to apply an even coat , but stay with it and you will be rewarded with one of the most beautiful finishes out there . you will need to wait 4-5 weeks or more before you rub it out .