Our Hand-rubbed Oil Finish
The first application of oil to our furniture is a delightful moment — enriching the color, enlivening the figure, and creating depth.
We finish with Deft Danish Oil to which we have added Deft Polyurethane Varnish, about 20% by volume. The addition of the varnish adds more resin to the mixture, increasing the rate at which the finish builds, but also reducing the margin of error and creating new opportunities for making a mess. The resins form the final finish. In these Deft products, they are derived from natural sources (tung oil and linseed oil) and synthetic ones (urethane). When applied, the mixture soaks into the top layers of the wood fibers. The actual depth to which it penetrates depends upon the species of wood and the care given to application, but is not over about .040."
A molecule of resin may be imprecisely described as a short chain of linked carbon atoms attended by units of hydrogen and oxygen. As drying occurs, these chains link up (polymerize) into large, matted, complex molecules entwined within and bonded to the wood fibers. Given adequate drying time, subsequent coats of oil add to this structure. As more resin is added and polymerized into the thickening web, the finish becomes tougher and more water resistant, and the reflection of light from the surface to the eye becomes sublime.
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, and we are gratified and fulfilled.
Because an oil finish is relatively thin, you experience and enjoy the wood directly. But because an oil finish is relatively thin, liquids left on the surface can enter and leave 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 spills. Very little other maintenance is required. If your finish is damaged, see Repair.
Maintaining Our Hand-rubbed Oil Finish (or our varnish finish)
Whatever product and schedule for maintenance that you use on your other furniture are almost certainly fine to use on our furniture. If in doubt, please ask us.
If the surface is soiled in some way, wipe it with a damp, or nearly wet, cloth. If the soiling is particularly stuck or built up, use a little soap or detergent. Rinse with a damp, or nearly wet, cloth. Dry thoroughly.
Polish with a lemon oil product. Good ones are available at grocery or hardware stores. We keep a rag with the oil. Add oil to the furniture or to the rag and rub until there is an even and complete coating. Rub and buff with a dry cloth to remove any excess.