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The Man In Black
03-29-2011, 11:25 PM
I have a piece of white wax wood that I am going to cut and make into a hiking staff. But what should I coat it with? I see many people seem to use tung oil. Why is this better than normal varnish?

And what hight should I cut it to? Shoulder hight would be about right, right?

Trekon86
03-30-2011, 12:10 AM
Tung oil and tung oil finishes (different animals) are both hardening oils. The difference being, pure tung oil takes much longer to dry but is food safe, whereas tung oil finishes (Formby's, etc) dry more quickly and harden to a nice shellac finish but are not food safe.


For a stave it shouldn't matter. Try Formby's, I've been using it on stuff for about two years and haven't had any issues with it flaking or rubbing off. The trick is to go thick over thin. E.G. a thin first coat, followed by a thicker one or more.

Works well, doesn't yellow like BLO does, and dries much more quickly than BLO as well. Astronomically quicker drying than pure linseed/flaxseed oil, for sure.

Polyurethane would work but in my experience is best for items that will not receive a lot of hard use or wear as it tends to develop wear spots or chips in the finish. Plus, polyurethane tends to come with stain premixed unless you specifically tell the guy behind the paint counter that you want clearcoat.
PMZ

bsred
03-30-2011, 01:29 AM
I think for a hiking staff at least as tall as you are, I usually try to get them a couple inches longer than height, so that if the foot splinters you can cut it down, shoulder high is probably good enough, but I think taller is better and more versatile. I Have never sealed any of mine but I will be from now on.

Ironwood
03-30-2011, 05:01 AM
I have used tung oil before. It gives a more natural finish. I have also used a spar varnish finish which is used for wooden boats. Its a more glossy finish but is fairly durable when applied in multiple coats.

Talfuchre
03-30-2011, 07:12 AM
The rule of thumb I have always heard is:

1) Walking staff - cut it to your armpit in length.

2) Walking stick - Hold your arm with a bent elbow and parallel to the ground. Cut the staff one hand width above your hand holding the stick.


TF

happywanderer
03-30-2011, 08:10 AM
I think for a hiking staff at least as tall as you are, I ussually try to get them a couple inches longer than height, so that if the foot splinters you can cut it down, shoulder high is probably good enough, but I think taller is better and more versatile. I Have never sealed any of mine but I'll will be from now on.

I usually find a piece of pipe that's slightly smaller than the foot of the staff; cut off about an inch of the pipe; file/sand around the foot of the staff until I'm able to pressure fit the pipe over the staff foot like a collar. Use some epoxy to ensure that the pipe doesn't work its way back off of the staff over time. Works great! Keeps the stick from splitting/wearing away.

xj35s
03-30-2011, 08:12 AM
I heard a taller walking stick will catch on overhead hazard's while you're looking where your feet are going. I think for in the "outback" it would come in handy for reach as well.

you can always cut it shorter but you can not lengthen...

walmart has spar varnish in a spray can for $6. stain section.

happywanderer
03-30-2011, 08:13 AM
I've used a variety of finishes on sticks, but my favorite is tung oil, like trek said. Easy to apply and feels more natural than varnish/shellac.

xj35s
03-30-2011, 08:14 AM
how long is the cure time?

happywanderer
03-30-2011, 09:36 AM
Cure time on tung oil finish (not the natural stuff) is similar to varnish or shellac. You'll want to check the can to be sure, but as I recall it's something like a couple hours to touch.

The Man In Black
03-30-2011, 10:36 AM
Tung oil and tung oil finishes (different animals) are both hardening oils. The difference being, pure tung oil takes much longer to dry but is food safe, whereas tung oil finishes (Formby's, etc) dry more quickly and harden to a nice shellac finish but are not food safe.

Um, does it matter that my staff will not be food safe? I wasn't going to eat it. :9:

Thanks for the replies

Old Philosopher
03-30-2011, 11:04 AM
I have a piece of white wax wood that I am going to cut and make into a hiking staff. But what should I coat it with? I see many people seem to use tung oil. Why is this better than normal varnish?

And what hight should I cut it to? Shoulder hight would be about right, right?
I notice you said it was wax wood. I'm assuming you're talking about the type used in some martial arts? I have no idea how that material would take a finish. I've never used one over a period of time outdoors, but the wood is dense, and pretty much impervious to moisture to begin with.
Pure tung oil preserves by being absorbed into the fibers of the wood. I don't think that would be the case with wax wood.
If you want to coat it with something anyway, I'd recommend spar varnish, or MinWax (tm) clear polyurethane. Verathane (tm) will yellow with age. Spar varnish is made to withstand the rigors of sea duty, but it still has to be reapplied occasionally.
Like I said, I think all bets are off on how any of these will work on wax wood.

GrampaMike
03-30-2011, 11:29 AM
Varnish is shiny and pretty, but is also a very hard finish that can develop cracks, allowing water to creep into the wood over time. If you use your stick for stream crossings a lot, this wear can accelerate considerably since it will get banged and scratched on hidden rocks by the force of the water, and be submerged quite a bit.

Consider an oil finish in place of varnish, and plan to touch it up periodically. A stick finished in this way will require maintenance, but should last for many a journey.

GrampaMike

Old Philosopher
03-30-2011, 11:51 AM
Well, suspicions confirmed.
The care and feeding of a waxwood staff is not easy to find, but this is some info from three different sources.

The bottom line seems to be that you want to use either a surface WAX on the staff, or an oil similar to your body oils. That would narrow it down to lanolin (animal product), or pure tung oil (plant).

The first comment is a little freaky:


Leave it along and let it go natural. As you use the staff, the human oil from your hands is all what it needs. The more you use it the oil from your palms turns the staff into a very light brown color. The oil seals the pores in the wood, which is really an air root, and kills the wormlike larvies that live inside the staff. If you do not seal the white staff with your human oil, these insects will bore out and leave very little holes. White saw dust appears near the newly bored holes. That's why these staffs will break when shaken hard.


Do not varnish Chinese white wax wood staffs.


staff is crafted of fine polished white wax wood, a wood noted for its flexibility and strength. In order to keep your staff flexible, don't store it in a dry environment !

The Man In Black
03-30-2011, 01:12 PM
Well, suspicions confirmed.
The care and feeding of a waxwood staff is not easy to find, but this is some info from three different sources.

The bottom line seems to be that you want to use either a surface WAX on the staff, or an oil similar to your body oils. That would narrow it down to lanolin (animal product), or pure tung oil (plant).

The first comment is a little freaky:

Hmm... So, should I go with the tung oil then? And yes, it is a martial arts staff. But was never really used.

Old Philosopher
03-30-2011, 01:36 PM
Hmm... So, should I go with the tung oil then? And yes, it is a martial arts staff. But was never really used.
There were several references to NOT putting a hard coat on the staff, because it is naturally flexible, and the finish will crack.
That bug larvae thing blew me away, but the guy who posted that seemed to be the local guru on that website forum. Strange......
The reason I suggested lanolin is because of all the comments about 'natural' oils from your hand preserving the waxwood. Lanolin has moisturizing properties, and is derived from sheep. It's the closest thing to human body oils, and is used for chapped skin, etc.

bsred
03-31-2011, 07:45 PM
Sounds like you should go get a bucket of fried chicken, and after every piece you eat rub your hands on the length of the staff.

ForestNH/VT
03-31-2011, 08:05 PM
I know many wouldn't consider it very "bushcrafty" but I have had good luck with mineral oil on my staff. I rubbed it down until it couldn't absorb any more once a day for a week. I also set the bottom in a small cup of it to really soak the end that gets the most abuse. It feels really good in the hand, repels water, and mineral oil won't degrade over time. FWIW

Forest

The Man In Black
04-04-2011, 10:46 AM
I know many wouldn't consider it very "bushcrafty" but I have had good luck with mineral oil on my staff. I rubbed it down until it couldn't absorb any more once a day for a week. I also set the bottom in a small cup of it to really soak the end that gets the most abuse. It feels really good in the hand, repels water, and mineral oil won't degrade over time. FWIW

Forest

I may try that.

But how about something like thompson's water seal?

Farnsrocket
04-04-2011, 08:47 PM
Boiled linseed oil.

VinoNoir
04-04-2011, 10:27 PM
Sounds like you should go get a bucket of fried chicken, and after every piece you eat rub your hands on the length of the staff.

Im sure the bears would just love that. Mmmmmm..a camper kabob, on a chicken flavored stick.

Angus McGunnigl
04-04-2011, 11:32 PM
Try Formbys as others have said. Get the Tung Oil Finish. Easy to apply, looks nice and is inexpensive.

I used in on knife handles and it has been fine.

Easy to find too

2500ak
04-07-2011, 02:36 AM
When I first started refinishing gunstocks I'd try all of my combination of stains, and finishes, and techniques making walking sticks.

In my experience, mineral oil just darkens wood and give it an unpleasant feel, and imo, and unpleasant smell.

Varnish and shellac like to chip, crack, and flake. They'll also yellow it they get left out in the sun.

Boiled linseed oil takes a while, doesn't give the wood all that great of a finish, the color isn't enhanced (as with tung oil), I didn't care for the texture (I don't like satin finishes), but it does an excellent job of making the wood water repellent.

Personally, I like TruOil, you can get it anywhere guns are sold. I believe it contains Tung and Linseed, among other things. It sets up in about a day per coat.

For the perfect walking stick or gunstock I determined that the best procedure was this:

1) strip with Kleanstrip KS-3 (do not breath the fumes, do not get it on you) If the wood isn't finished skip the step

2) bleach with oxalic acid (wood bleach/brightener, ensures consistent coloring and uptake of stain)

3) Wet the wood to raise the grain with an iron and a piece of wet cloth

4) sand, re-raise and repeat as many times as necessary (this is also the time to lift any dents)

5) buff with 000, and then 0000 steel wool

6) stain with a quality oil based stain (never had great luck with water based)

I liked the kind Varathane made. My favorite was always Cabernet, makes the wood a soft smoldering red. They go so much easier than water based.

Only Varathane stain I ever had trouble with was the ebony one. Granted I was applying it to light wood, took a lot of coats, and a lot of touch up work with steel wool to make it look right. So difficult, but not impossible.

7) After allowing the wood to sit for a few days, hand rub the first coat of TruOil into the wood.

8) Allow a day to dry

9) Buff with 00 steel wool until the finish dulls uniformly to satin

10) Add next coat

11) Repeat (about the 10th coat I switch to 000 steel wool, at the 20th I step it up to 0000) I usually stop around 50 coats

12) The final coat should be applied liberally, and then squeegeed off with a piece of heavy printer paper

13) Apply wax, allow the wax to set, and then buff it off

The finish is as clear as glass, almost impervious to scratching, but isn't incredibly hard, the wood can still dent if you whack it against something. If you fill in the dents with it they'll just glass over.

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h219/MasterMind_88/2.jpg

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h219/MasterMind_88/DSC_0524.jpg

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h219/MasterMind_88/DSC_0526.jpg

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h219/MasterMind_88/DSC_0981-1.jpg

If this is going to be a rough use item, you might try poly and a water based stain. Thick enough poly applied with sanding in between coats is very, very durable. But it will feel like plastic, and won't have the 3 dimensionality of the TruOil, or the pure Tung oil.

Here, you can see on this Marlin 60 I did. The finish is a little cloudy, and the texture feels cheep. Although it's tougher than nails. I'd feel perfectly comfortable leaving the stock in a bathtub, or in the rain, or using it as a cutting block or as a hammer. Just isn't as eye catching, or as pleasing to grip as the Mosins finish.

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h219/MasterMind_88/IMG_0063.jpg

I'm also of the mind that poly finish goes with water based stains, and oil based finishes go with oil stains. Final products seem to hold up better if you don't mix and match.

I never did much research, my procedure was pretty much trial an error. I don't know how well it hold up to traditional wisdom, but it does work.

Jim W.
04-07-2011, 03:49 AM
I have a walking stick that a friend made for me that is just short of my full heigth. I like how he finished the end so it doesn't wear out quickly and doesn't slip on rocks. He put a rubber tip from a crutch/cane on it.

Jim

briarbrow
04-07-2011, 06:56 AM
I like the polyurethane wipe on finish. It works similar to an oil but offers more protection, but is better suited to walnut and such.

Wax wood- hmm? sounds like instructions. Burnish and wax

The Man In Black
04-07-2011, 10:21 AM
Thnaks for the in depth reply 2500ak. I will look into your method.

Again, thanks for all the replies guys.

EDIT 2500ak, how does the TruOil method hold up against rain and water? You mention the other method is more water proof.

Old Philosopher
04-07-2011, 11:44 AM
Just remember waxwood is a unique product. It may not take to conventional finishes the way other wood does. What ever finish you choose should remain flexible, like the wood itself. From what little I know about it, maybe a wax finish would work best?

2500ak
04-07-2011, 03:41 PM
Thnaks for the in depth reply 2500ak. I will look into your method.

Again, thanks for all the replies guys.

EDIT 2500ak, how does the TruOil method hold up against rain and water? You mention the other method is more water proof.

If applied correctly and completely it's waterproof, part of the oil sinks in, and it makes a hard clear shell. Poly is plastic, so I'd say it's easier to make it waterproof. TruOil doesn't go on as thick, or as quickly.

When you work with TruOil you'll figure out pretty quick just how tenacious it is. It'll waterproof your skin if you get it on you.

Adheres in a few seconds, then takes three or four days for the finish to wear off your hands. About the only way to remove it is bleach. I did have a fair amount of luck buffing it off with talcum powered though. You can get it to pill up if it's still fairly fresh, then hit it with dishsoap. Boraxo will work too, but most of the other grease cutting stuff I use when wrenching on my trucks was ineffective.


I imagine it'll stick to just about anything, I had to burn (or sand and re-blue) it off metal parts of the riflestock.

The only real disadvantage (other than how long it takes to finish), is that it isn't a hard shell like poly (which is more like plastic), it feels solid but when you smack it against something it's only about as good as rubber and the wood can dent if it's soft wood.

It's kind of like fairly hard, crystal clear amber. Which I suppose is what it is, in a way.


Poly will stick to almost anything too. You probably don't need the KS-3 if it's unfinished, but some Kleanstrip-X will take off anything that might prevent it from adhearing. It'll also take off your fingerprints to, so be careful. Then do the ironing and the wet rag trick to lift any residual wax, oil, sap (whatever it is that might make it not adhear).

Another good trick if you're using poly is to rough up the surface with medium grit sandpaper. Without feeling the wood I wouldn't be able to tell you which grit, but something between 280 and 320, it'll give the hard shell something to bite into. Extend the surface area too.

I wouldn't sweat it too much, both poly and TruOil are very serviceable. If it dents, cracks, bubbles, etc... you just attack the problem spot with some sand paper, or steel wool until you're down below the damage, then fill it in.

Shellac and varnish are less serviceable. The actual shell comes from the dissolved and emulsified carapace of a certain kind of beetle, and it'll yellow if left in the sun. That's a harder fix and will probably require a strip and re-finish.

BLO and Tung are pretty serviceable too, you just have to apply new coats every now and again. They can still get stains (use the iron trick to lift the stain out), and they dent even easier than the TruOil.

Since this is a rough use item, I'd be leaning towards the poly. Get some of that really high grade stuff for wood floors. It's made to last just about forever.

The Man In Black
04-08-2011, 11:17 AM
I think I would rather go with the Tru Oil over the other. WOuld this be the stuff? http://www.amazon.com/Tru-Oil-Gun-Stock-Finish-Ounce/dp/B0000C5398

And about how much do you think I'd need? And are 50 coats really necessary?

Thanks.

Kepper
04-08-2011, 11:25 AM
Sounds like you should go get a bucket of fried chicken, and after every piece you eat rub your hands on the length of the staff.

Just expect some odd looks if people see you rubbing you staff.

2500ak
04-08-2011, 02:21 PM
I think I would rather go with the Tru Oil over the other. WOuld this be the stuff? http://www.amazon.com/Tru-Oil-Gun-Stock-Finish-Ounce/dp/B0000C5398

And about how much do you think I'd need? And are 50 coats really necessary?

Thanks.

No, I'm a perfectionist, and I was perfecting my method. If I'd come up with the idea of squeegeeing the excess off with paper to prevent all runs then it probably would have only taken between ten and fifteen.

It's pretty much sealed after one coat, but I believe overkill is always the best option.

For your application you probably won't even use one small bottle of it. Just a tiny dollop will coat the entire surface. I used only three small bottles, and the only reason I couldn't use one is that the stuff expires pretty quickly once you've opened it.

If you shake it regularly you'll get a week or two out of a bottle before it crystallizes.