After carving 106 of these spell panels for “The American Peasant,” Megan painted all of them with three colors of Allback linseed oil paint – Holkham Green, Old Red and Old Blue.
The stuff takes 24 to 48 to dry. And we let the panel sit around for a full week to really harden. The colors are gorgeous, and the paint covers bare wood in one thin coat. So a little paint goes a long way.
Now I am experimenting with how to finish the finish. The painted surface is a bit rustic. It’s a little rough in texture. And with the green and red colors, there are areas that are shinier than others. The blue is more consistent in sheen.
After messing around with several abrasives, I settled on fine sanding sponge (#220) that has a firm backing. The paint takes a surprising amount of abuse, so cutting through the color isn’t a huge risk like it is with latex or acrylic paint.
After sanding the panels smooth, I followed with a very light coat of boiled linseed oil. I wiped it on with a rag and wiped it clean with a second rag. This is the best result so far. The surface is smooth, consistent and a bit luminous. Though it doesn’t look plastic at all.
If I come up with a better method, I’ll share it here.
— Christopher Schwarz
25 thoughts on “Finishing the Finish (Linseed Oil Paint)”
At the risk of asking a dumb question: Would you use that to finish a tool chest?
Historically, it has been used to finish anything, from a house down to a small decorative object. Good stuff.
Thanks for update. Did you try shellac as well? Just curious.
No. Just oils and waxes. I am looking for a low lustre
You may have mentioned it but is this as safe as milk paint?
Linseed oil paint is very low in toxicity. Virtually no VOCs. I don’t know how to compare it to milk paint by this metric. But it’s safe stuff.
Thanks. I’ll give it a shot
Oh, cool to know. We’ve been experimenting with mixing pigments with BLO and citrus solvent – color is rubbing off a little more than I like after it’s cured but before we have a top coat on it, which made me think I needed more oil to our mix, but yours also looks a lot more opaque than what I ended up with.
This stuff is opaque, but the grain is visible.
Thanks for the tips, my next project after our move to Albuquerque will be a Henry Lapp painted dresser. This sounds like the finish we want. Great job as usual.
do what Maloof did..add tung oil …which has drying agents…to the bioled linseed oil
Do you think this would be ok inside a case or would it be stinky for a long time, like other BLO type products?
It has very little smell. But I can’t guarantee anything because I leave my interiors bare of all finish.
I have used linseed oil paint inside a case, and found it works fine provided you are prepared/able to leave the case door ajar for at least a couple of months while the paint dries (i.e. polymerises, for which it needs a steady supply of oxygen). Once it is fully cured there’s no smell at all.
Hej Mattias. Jag har försökt hitta en kontaktväg till dig, och nu har jag förhoppningsvis gjort det. Jag skulle vilja tacka dig för den fantastiska resumén av Träsmak som gjort på den här bloggen, jag blev alldeles överväldigad. Du får gärna kontakta mig på e-post firstname.lastname@example.org om du vill. Jag vill gärna höra mer om dig och det här som ni sysslar med. Det verkar spännande i mina ögon.
What I have done on a couple of pieces now is admittedly more tedious, because drying time for multiple coats mans more time spent watching paint dry (or at least waiting for it to do so; even an unwatched pot of linseed oil paint will eventually polymerise, given a steady supply of oxygen), but I’ve found the results worth the wait.
First coat is a mix of 1/3 linseed oil paint and 2/3 boiled (as in proper boiled; not heavy metaled) linseed oil. Apply as thin a coat as you can, dry-tip with a second brush. both to equalise and to remove any last amounts of excess paint.
Leave to dry for between 24 and 72 hours, depending on local heat, humidity and airflow (’cause oxygen).
Second coat is pure linseeed oil paint. Again, apply as thin as you can, and dry-tip.
Leave to dry.
Third coat is again pure linseed oil paint; thin coat; dry-tip. Leave to dry.
In my experience at least, this builds up layers of pigment, giving a to my eyes delightful sheen and depth of colour. If proper care is taken to put the paint on thinly, the grain will still be visible, even though the piece will look properly painted.
Hey Mattias, this is great, thanks! How do you clean your brush after? I got some linseed soap with the paint but I feel like the process has to be different than how I’ve cleaned brushes in the past.
You are most welcome, Matt! Obviously I don’t know how you have cleaned brushes in the past, and thus not how this compares, but in any case it is just as basic and simple as one could imagine.
So, having finished painting for the day, I will go to my workshop sink, put a good dollop of soap on the brush, and work it in between the bristles with my fingers until it forms a lather, then rinse with water; then repeat (and repeat …) until he lather stays white (this sign obviously doesn’t count if the paint was white), the rinse runs off clear and I can see no more (or hardly any) traces of paint in between the bristles. I’ve never timed myself, but I’d say it takes maybe five minutes or so.
I will usually take a little bit of extra care in the early stages not to splash soapy paint all over the sink, just to save myself the effort of having to clean it off with more soap — those pigments are strong and go a very long way.
I haven’t got a mix tap at my workshop sink, so I mostly use cold water, as the hot water gets way too hot pretty soon, but I suspect that warm (as opposed to hot) water would work better than cold; I will do a couple of lather-and-rinse cycles towards the end under the hot tap, and find that helps with the final cleaning. Had I had a mix tap, i would most likely have used warm water all the way through.
So. No rocket science. No unicorn tears. Just soap, water and some elbow grease.
When you said finishing the finish my heart started to beat faster, I started to feel tense, my mind racing… he’s gonna put ceramic coating on top… got to the end and it’s just some more BLO, calmness restored.
Any thoughts on doing two different colors, so the base coat will show as the top coat wears?
If you’re talking about the paint being kind of grainy, of the 3 brands of linseed oil paint I’ve used, Allback, Viking, and Ottosson’s, Ottosson’s seems the least grainy. He boasts a 3 stage grinding process that may be superior to the manufacturing of the other brands.
By the way, even though the paints are solvent-free, the pigments in them can be quite toxic.
After the light coat of linseed oil, I frequently use a light coat of linseed/beeswax that I make. It also is a nice rejuvenator for any tired linseed oil finish.
thanks for these posts. They have rekindled my interest in linseed oil paints.
I stumbled across another source for buying Allback paint as well as Viking and Ottoson paints, and the site seems to be a great resource for those interested in traditional, VOC free paint. They even have teaching workshops for those who would like to learn more.
Did Megan mix the colors together to apply as one layer or did she apply 3 different colors with the red being the top layer?
Each one is one coat of that color
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