Wiping Varnish Selection - Router Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-17-2009, 01:23 AM Thread Starter
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Default Wiping Varnish Selection

My Son and I are making my own version of Marc Spagnuolo's (The Wood Whisperer) end grain cutting board from padauk and tigerwood. He talks of several finishing options but recommends a 50/50 mix of wiping varnish and mineral spirits. After visiting HD and Lowes and seeing the only product they offer with the "varnish" the offer is Spar Varnish. This didn't sound like something yo cut food on, but I don't know. I scanned their oil based poly cans, suspecting it was varnish-based, but didn't find the word varnish.

I've googled the term and people talk of making wiping varnish by diluting poly and others refer to "wiping varnish (this includes polyurethane)", implying there are verious blends that fall under the wiping varnish name.

He talks about how, after 3-4 minutes of letting the end grain soak this up it may have soaked clear through the 1-1/4" board and how it is not film-building. This sounds like a good finish for a cutting board, protecting the inner wood from water also.

If poly will work and I understand it correctly then it you would dilute poly 50/50 with MS to make wiping varnish and then dilute that 50/50 to get his mix.

This would be a 75% MS / 25% oil-based poly mix. That sounds very dilute but I don't know enough to judge.

I understand that mineral oil can be used as an alternative however he indicated it required regular recoat while mineral oil is only required on this to hide cut marks that may eventually show up.

I could sure use some help here, planning a path forward.

Jim

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-17-2009, 09:29 AM
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Many members have, during the time that I've been a member, talked about "wipe on Poly" something that I had never seen, that is until quite recently when I happened to see it in a store. So far I haven't had a chance to try it, but by all accounts it does a great job (I'll let the forum know if it doesn't!)
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-17-2009, 10:31 AM
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Jim,

I have used the Wipe On Poly that Harry has pointed out...bought it at Lowe's. I am not sure of the mix, but it is definitely thinner than polyurethanes I have used. From your description you may be able to use this right out of the can with no further mixing. It might be worth a look. It is very easy to use with no runs and a very nice finish.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-17-2009, 11:58 AM
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He talks about how, after 3-4 minutes of letting the end grain soak this up it may have soaked clear through the 1-1/4" board and how it is not film-building. This sounds like a good finish for a cutting board, protecting the inner wood from water also.

If poly will work and I understand it correctly then it you would dilute poly 50/50 with MS to make wiping varnish and then dilute that 50/50 to get his mix.

This would be a 75% MS / 25% oil-based poly mix. That sounds very dilute but I don't know enough to judge.
Hi Jim,

Based on the desire of soaking thru 1 1/4" of end grain in a few minutes, I would think that the 75-25 mix would be reasonable.

If you are in doubt, why not write to Marc and get him to clarify it for you. He is a very personable guy and I have communicated with him many times over several questions I had. He was always good to take the time to help me.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-17-2009, 12:24 PM
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Varnish is made with a resin, a drying(or semi--drying) oil cooked in the absence of oxygen. The resin is usually alkd,the oil usually boiled linseed. Other ingredients such as solvent,driers are added. Polyurethane is an alkd resin varnish with a small amount of urethane resin added. Wiping varnish is simply varnish with enough thinner added to make it easy to apply. If this is to be a working cutting board I would do as the old time butchers did with their blocks a mixture of mineral oil and wax. I have finished a great many cutting boards and unless they were purely decorative I have never used a film forming finish-which varnish is. My best advice would be to use mineral oil or mineral and wax mixed together.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-17-2009, 12:46 PM
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It would be easiest to just skip the varnish all together on the cutting board and go with mineral oil or mineral oil + beeswax.

FYI, don't get the mineral oil at the hardware store, they charge too much. Get the generic "house brand" at a chain drug store, it will be cheaper. Just look at the label to be sure it says 100% mineral oil. Similar advice for the beeswax. I found it was more than $2/ounce at the hardware store and $0.95/ounce (1lb block) at Hobby Lobby. YMMV

The last ones I made I just kept slopping on mineral oil until it stopped soaking in. Took about 4 or 5 liberal coats (endgrain cherry & walnut and birch & walnut).
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-17-2009, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Jim,

Based on the desire of soaking thru 1 1/4" of end grain in a few minutes, I would think that the 75-25 mix would be reasonable.

If you are in doubt, why not write to Marc and get him to clarify it for you. He is a very personable guy and I have communicated with him many times over several questions I had. He was always good to take the time to help me.
Bob,

I think the email to Marc is a great idea, independant of the outcome. If for nothing else just to know what he meant. Your assessment on the mix is very plausable since he made it very clear than the purpose was *not* to build up a film coat.

Jerry & RW,

Mineral Oil or a Mineral Oil wax blend is the next in line. The only reason I was leaning towards the varnish was Marc's claim that it provided better protection and required less maintenance.

Jim

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-18-2009, 04:42 AM
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Lot's of good information here for all of us novices, this is one worth marking for future use. Thanks to everyone for the input.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-19-2009, 04:00 AM
 
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For cutting boards use mineral oil.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-19-2009, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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Bob,

I think the email to Marc is a great idea, independant of the outcome. If for nothing else just to know what he meant. Your assessment on the mix is very plausable since he made it very clear than the purpose was *not* to build up a film coat.

Jerry & RW,

Mineral Oil or a Mineral Oil wax blend is the next in line. The only reason I was leaning towards the varnish was Marc's claim that it provided better protection and required less maintenance.

Jim
I emailed Marc Spagnuolo late yesterday and he responded last night. Bob, you were right on! Here's his answer:

"Varnish is a general term for a class of finishes that includes poly. Varnish is nothing more than resin cooked with oil and diluted with mineral spirits. Polyurethane is also a varnish, but its a varnish that is made with polyurethane as the resin.

So your run of the mill polyurethane will work for the purposes of the cutting board. And when it comes to the dilution, I don't get too scientific about it. But I think your math is close enough. 50/50 gives you a wiping formula, then diluting about 50% again gives you the cutting board formula. So I would probably just ballpark it and dilute the full-strength poly about 75% with mineral spirits. That should get you close enough.".

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