I’ve been keeping a little secret. And I’m not quite ready to spill the beans, not 100% at least. That will happen soon enough in a post chronicling the concept-through-construction of a mixed species (ash and elm) “bistro table” built by Ron Bauer this spring. Anticipation is half the pleasure! Until then, today’s post is a sneak peek into the process of tung oiling the ash and elm centerpiece of the main room.
Given the diminutive scale of Rosslyn’s icehouse, each ingredient, design detail, furnishing, and decoration is important and demands intention. A single, small table designed in collaboration with Ron — with whom we’ve teamed up on multiple past projects, from hand turned bowls and custom cutting boards to tables, desks, and builtins — and impeccably crafted by Ron is now receiving 8 to 12 hand applied coats of tung oil, courtesy of Tony Foster.
In the photo above Tony is sanding the table’s underside, skirt, joinery, and legs with ultra fine (1500 grit) sand paper to remove any hour joint irregularities, etc. And in the phot below he’s begun to hand rub (maybe massage is more accurate) the tung oil deep into the ash and elm grain, ensuring total coverage without over-applying, and working strictly with the grain direction.
Comparing the middle underside and and breadboards to the legs, skirt, and near underside offers an accurate contrast between pre-oil and post-oil.
Prior to diving in I double checked with my brother, Charlie. He’s a seasoned woodworker, and he’s never once lead me astray when it comes to appropriate joinery, finishing, etc. In this case I asked if my instinct to eschew linseed for tung oiling made sense to him.
For the ash, definitely tung oil, I would think. Could even richen the color hues a little. Tung oil is pretty straightforward: the more coats, the better the finish. Wipe it on, wait until just tacky, and rub it off. Use plenty of cloths. And throw them in water when you’re done to avoid fire.
[Linseed]… is less luminescent, by itself. Though if you cut it with mineral spirits and add a polyurethane, you get an oil-like finish with waterproof properties of poly… Linseed oil can discolor paler woods (like ash) making them yellow. — Charlie Davis
It’s always reassuring to have his weigh-in, and the focus and determination that Tony’s bringing to this project inspire plenty of confidence.
Get ready for the reveal… Soon!