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General Wood Carving

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  #1  
Old 10-24-2006, 09:11 AM
Lynn O. Doughty's Avatar
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Default Boiled Linseed Oil...Why I Hate It!

First off, why would you ever want to put something on your carving that goes by the name of "BLO"?

Now that that's out of the way I copied this from a reference site on the web:
  • No UV (ultraviolet) light resistance... UV causes more damage to exposed wood than any other factor, destroying wood fibers and setting it up for attack by mildew, fungus, and insects.
  • Linseed oil is mildew food... Many vegetable oils are food products for humans... all vegetable oils are food products for mildew! Linseed oil is not completely denatured, so it can encourage rather than discourage mildew growth.
  • Linseed oil does not harden sufficiently to offer enough resistance to abrasion to be a suitable deck floor preservative... at least by today's standards. Linseed oil has been used for interior wood floors, but it must be waxed for durability! Waxing an outside deck would be dangerous, even if you hang a "Slippery When Wet" sign!
  • Difficult to remove from wood... Multiple coats of linseed oil are gummy and difficult to remove fully for refinishing.
Need more?

As a side note, you should be aware that boiled linseed oil lends itself readily to spontaneous combustion. A rag used to apply boiled linseed oil and then carelessly thrown into a trash can, can easily result in a fire. This is not hearsay - I’ve seen it happen. When I was working out West I made up a furniture cleaner/polish that contained boiled linseed oil. I knew of the hazards, and told the people using it in a furniture store to dispose of the rags in a fire proof trash can. They didn’t, and about 45 minutes after a clerk had thrown the rag into a regular trash can with paper and other debris, it caught on fire. Luckily, no damage or injuries, but believe me when I say boiled linseed oil is a fire hazard. In my own shop I make almost all my own stains, using boiled linseed oil as an ingredient. I am always very careful how I dispose of the rags I use in staining. I’ve got insurance on the shop, but it would sure be a pain to replace everything!

Here's some more:

Linseed oils offer faster drying and better penetration, but they also turn very dark with age, many become rancid, they are not as durable, and they must be periodically renewed.

Okay....I think you get the general negatives of this stuff. However, if you still are still not convinced I'd suggest you check out the other oils available such as Tung and Danish. These have the same characteristics of BLO but have been refined to remove most of the negatives. Sure, all finishes have their negatives but I don't think they have near as many as Linseed oil.

What you put on your carvings is clearly up to you. These comments are only meant to help you make a better choice.




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Old 10-24-2006, 09:31 AM
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Default Re: Boiled Linseed Oil...Why I Hate It!

I totally agree with you Lynn! I fire hazard is the worse thing that can happen, of course. I had no idea, until it was on the news about it happening, that rags soaked in it could just self combust!

My experience wasn't that, thank goodness! We purchased an old sideboard years ago, it was literally gummy. We were told the man coated everything with linseed oil. The finish on that sideboard was dark, dirty and sticky, with actual dust visible in it. What a mess!

I love tung oil, my favorite being Formbys Satin Tung Oil, it gives a beautiful, durable, non-sticky finish that holds up well.....hmmmmm, for decades, in my experience. I've used it on lots of furniture and a few of my carvings, the ones that I finish natural.

For all of you using or tempted to use linseed oil, please be careful. That goes for all phases of our work, of course. Be informed! Thanks Lynn, for helping everyone be more so! Deborah
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Last edited by Callynne; 10-24-2006 at 06:46 PM.
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  #3  
Old 10-24-2006, 09:32 AM
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Default Re: Boiled Linseed Oil...Why I Hate It!

I've never been enthused about using "BLO".

So, what is a good alternative to put on wood carvings with no paint that looks good when finished and stays that way, cleans up easy, doesn't leave or cause residue to build up, and provides protection and resistance to the environment?

Acrylic polyurethane?
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  #4  
Old 10-24-2006, 09:38 AM
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Default Re: Boiled Linseed Oil...Why I Hate It!

Opps, Sorry!

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Last edited by Irish; 10-24-2006 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 10-24-2006, 09:42 AM
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Default Re: Boiled Linseed Oil...Why I Hate It!

Lynn,

Excellent information.

I can tell you why I use it on some canes and staffs. But I have never used in on a carving to be used inside.

In the mid 1800's boiled linseed oil was used for rain proofing. Most of the oil blankets were made by painting linseed oil combined with lamp soot and coal oil onto canvas. It produced an extreamly cheap but functional rain protection, which was supplied to many of the confederate army troops for ground cloths.

It water repeling properties for wood are excellent, also it will not whiten or stain as will many of the other finishes that come into contact with water. So yes I use BLO to protect funtional staffs and canes. But I use varish or other sealers for indoor carvings.

I will say this I have been very impressed with Cabot's timber oil. Which properties seem to be excellent without the awlful smell of BLO that seems to last forever.
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Old 10-24-2006, 09:48 AM
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Default Re: Boiled Linseed Oil...Why I Hate It!

Interesting conversation! I'm learning oodles of information!

mikeg
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Old 10-24-2006, 09:58 AM
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Default Re: Boiled Linseed Oil...Why I Hate It!

Want to keep your axe, maul, or sledge handles from cracking? Sand or scrape ALL that lacquer finish off, then rub it down with linseed oil, drill a 1/4" hole in the but end about 2" deep and fill the hole with blo. Cork it with a 1/4" dowell and let it stand for a while. After a week or so check the hole and refill with more blo.

Those little "straw packages" in the wood will absorb the blo and you will have a tool handle that is now just a bit flexible and resiliant, instead of dry and brittle. Odds of it breaking in use will be greatly reduced. Works for "working" walking sticks, too. You know, not the decorative ones you take to the mall or park, but the ones that hit the trail and are leaned on, pried with, and used for pack supports, tarp posts, etc.

Can't say I've ever used it on a carving, though.

All finishes that "cure" rather than merely dry, by having the carrier evaporate, will chemicaly generate heat during the curing process. Confine that heat with a wipe rag, and you have a recipe for a fire.

Both Lynn and Susan are right in their assesments of the risks and benefits of linseed oil. You should assess the characteristics of any finish you use, as all have drawbacs and advantages, and none will serve every purpose, and all serve some purposes. Kinda like looking for the "perfect" tool!

Geeze, another afterthought.........even those finishes that "dry", eventually, after the carrier evaporation, spend some time, chemically curing, so heat can be generated and wipe rags and covered spills should be dealt with properly! that's why the can says something like "dries to the touch in 20 minutes(carrier has evaporated) but wait 72 hours before heavy use.

Al

Last edited by AlArchie; 10-24-2006 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 10-24-2006, 11:33 AM
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Default Re: Boiled Linseed Oil...Why I Hate It!

Susan,

I like your post why did you delete it? Finishing or carving is about making choices. It is Lynn's choice to not use BLO. He doesn't ike it... well ok he hates it, but that doesn't mean that everyone does.

But I think your post had a lot of information that should be made known. Your mixing down , the effect your looking for and the finish you receive is good information.

But in both cases it is nothing but a way of finishing, there are many different ways to finish and as you and Goody and many others here pointed out to me... they all have purpose and good and bad points. But with one sided information the decesion to make a choice becomes non existant. Then all of our work would be finished the same, and I can tell you the differences gained by those finishing styles is well worth using them all .

Garry
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Old 10-24-2006, 11:40 AM
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Default Re: Boiled Linseed Oil...Why I Hate It!

I will admit that I too use that stuff on my tool handles as it keeps the wood from drying out. Thats a positive aspect that I overlooked.

Maybe my use of the word "Hate" was a little strong. I don't actually "Hate" linseed oil. It's just when I see a carving, especially a caricature carving, that has been coated with that stuff I just shake my head at the thought that it could have looked so much better if something else was used.

Years ago, at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in OKC, they had an exhibit of Andy Anderson's work. It was a scene of Judge Roy Bean's Court House out west of the Pecos. Tthey were stringing up some poor fella' out front for some crime. That carving looked like they had stored it in a barn someplace for the past 50 years it had so much dust and dirt on it. Andy used BLO on his carvings too. Of course back when he was carving they didn't have the wide selection of finishes available that we do. I like to think that ol' Andy, when walking through the paint section of Lowes or Home Depot he would stop, look at the gallon of BLO and then reach for the small can of POLY!

Maybe the crime that that poor wrangler committed was that he went for his BLO when he should have reached for something else!
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Last edited by Lynn O. Doughty; 10-24-2006 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 10-24-2006, 11:58 AM
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Default Re: Boiled Linseed Oil...Why I Hate It!

Susan,

I agree with Ashbys, I thought you had some good points. Your post was informative.

I think Al hit it on the head, it all depends on what you're looking for in a finish. And what the project is will probably also factor in on what you need from a finish. You probably wouldn't use the same finish on a cutting board as you would on a child's toy.

But all of the points that Lynn brought up should be considered when choosing a finish for your project. As far as disposing of rags after, I can't stand the suspense! I throw them in a coffee can, take them outside and burn them.

Does anybody know if putting poly or something similar over BLO will prevent mildew or turning rancid?

mikeg
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