Our Hand-rubbed Oil Finish
We finish our chairs and most of our other furniture with three coats of oil, hand-rubbed into the wood. We finish with Deft Danish Oil to which we have added Deft Polyurethane Varnish (Defthane), about 20% by volume. The oil penetrates into pores and fibers bringing out the color, figure, and character of the wood, and giving them depth. Believing that no color in a can will ever equal the natural color of wood, we do not use stains.
Color, figure, and character vary for wood of a given species. Stain obscures these individual attributes making wood products uniform and consistent. We respect this inconsistency as another element of the medium to be explored in the composition of each piece of furniture. Sometimes when selecting wood for a piece, I must admit that the ease of just "building it and smearing brown stain on it" is tempting. But there are no second thoughts in that wonderful moment when the oil enlivens natural wood, well chosen and matched.
The oil dries (polymerizes) in the fibers of the wood, sealing and toughening the surface. Subsequent coats build a thin film and develop sheen. The surface of the wood is critical to the finish. We spend much of our time preparing the surface — sanding. Enough time so that sanding is the task for which we are least likely to express affection. But, "so smooth," "silky," "satin," "sensuous" we hear.
Because an oil finish is relatively thin, you experience and enjoy the wood directly. But since an oil finish is relatively thin, water left on the surface can enter and make a spot. Not a terrible, and often not a noticeable, thing but sometimes annoying. To maintain its superior surface, oil finished furniture requires some vigilance to wipe off spills. Very little other maintenance is required. We recommend an annual light coat of lemon oil.
I have written a full step by step description of our oil finishing process and materials, (How We Apply an Oil Finish) if you are interested in the details.
Our furniture is museum quality, but made for home and family living. I urge everyone to relax and use it. A scratch or dent is a minor thing; a collection of them writes your history of use. If you choose, surface imperfections are easy to repair when the finish is oil. We provide instructions, (Repairing Our Oil Finish), and a repair kit for our patrons who need them.
We offer some choices in surface treatment and finish for dining tabletops. (see Options for Finishing Dining Tabletops).