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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-12-2013, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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Default Dip finish?

As most of you probably already are aware, I'm making a chess set. It's gradually getting there, and now I am thinking about what finish to put on it. Actually, this is a prototype for Toys For Tots, so hope to be making a batch of them, but don't want to spend a lot of time brushing a finish on. Thinking too of using flock on the bottoms, rather than cut felt for each one; but may pass on that entirely, undecided yet.

Somewhere I heard about dipping pieces, so been doing a lot of searching on that. Seems like mainly just gamers are dip finishing, and they're sort of a strange lot. But apparently it does work pretty well, and is not time consuming. This link is a bit above average of those that I have been finding. Dipping Painting Technique - Tutorial & Comments (pic heavy) Interesting, to say the least.

My original thought was to make some wiping varnish, half and half, polyurethane and mineral spirits, and dip in that. Then read that some of the gamers use polyurethane as is. One nice thing about dipping vs brushing, no cleanup.

So, I'm wondering if anyone here has used dipping for putting a finish on anything, and if so, were they happy with the results?

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-13-2013, 07:23 AM
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Many scroll sawers use the dipping method to finish their projects. I keep a plastic container full of lemon oil in my workshop for that purpose.
Here is a Utube video showing the project.
Lemon Oil for Finishing Scroll Saw Projects - YouTube
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-13-2013, 10:21 AM
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Theo, Watco danish oil will work great for this. Dip, let it dry for an hour and dip again. Wipe off the excess and let it dry thoroughly. You can get this in clear or with various tints in the oil. This leaves the look of a hand rubbed finish.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-13-2013, 11:00 AM
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I dip arrow shafts to get the colored crown section and then to coat the entire shaft with a clear coat. I use Varathanes, both colored and clear. I have to thin the varathane to get it to work right. Too thick and it won't flow smooth. Air bubbles in the finish can be a problem but a hair dryer will get rid of them.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-13-2013, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Drat, should have said. What I'm mostly after is a tough finish; decent looking to be sure, but I plan on these sets to be used by kids, and probably tossed in a bag for storage, so looks are secondary. I want something that will really stand up. The gamers frequently mention that their game pieces are tossed in a bag, one of them even lets his kids play with them, and apparently the finish holds up.

So, I know lemon oil isn't going to cut it, and I hate those spray finishes, they stink horribly.

How do the Watco Danish Oil and Varathane hold up to rough use?

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-13-2013, 08:15 PM
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Varathane would hold up okay but would eventually need refinishing. I haven't used Watco but I used to use Behr Scandinavian Oil and it would work but might take a while to not feel oily.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-13-2013, 11:32 PM
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Theo, you might consider spar varnish for the maximum durability. I think most brands now use a polyurethane version.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-14-2013, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Theo, you might consider spar varnish for the maximum durability. I think most brands now use a polyurethane version.
I've been doing a lot more looking, and from what I've found, I'm inclined to go with that.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-15-2013, 10:13 AM
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Theo, I can explain to you an easy way to dip large quantities of chess pieces. My dad and I worked on a huge engineering project (Snapper Mowers, McDonough, GA) where an enormous paint dipping volume was handled quite easily. Send me a PM for further details of this quite simple and efficient process.

Otis Guillebeau from Auburn, Georgia

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-15-2013, 03:31 PM
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Okay, (Theo did want further info): Snapper Mowers are manufactured in McDonough, GA and the design-build contractor was a client of ours for many years. There were literally hundreds of huge presses that form mower parts from sheet metal. With each of these presses there are in-coming flat sheet metal pieces and another location for pressed parts to be placed. The pressed parts are bright sheet metal "stampings" for the most part. There is a chain overhead with hooks on the links at regular intervals and this chain being literally several miles long weaves althroughout this enormous building (about 70 acres under roof). At the front of the "line" the chain appears to not be doing much, but as you follow the chain, it is getting progressively added-to with metal stampings from althroughout this enormous factory - each stamping being attached via the hooks.

Several miles (as the chain travels) down the line there become essentially bumper-to-bumper traffic of these metal stampings dangling from the chain. Intermittantly spaced there are motors that drive this chain. All of their stamped metal parts go through solvent cleaning, drying and are dragged through a many-segmented "pool of paint". The chain has high and low spots and the pool depth is fully utilized with some parts, but the chain comes to within 4-6" for several hundred feet as the parts are dragged through this "paint bath". After the paint is applied there are another several hundred feet of areas where paint drippings fall under a continuously sloping (upward) trough that drips recovered paint back into the "paint bath" (pool).

Theo, certainly you will not need to begin on such a large scale, but a miniaturized version of this could be made where a small chain could be interspersed with wood screws - heads of the screws would prevent passage of the screws. Each wood screw could go into the bottom (to be later covered with felt, etc.) of a chess piece - which would in-turn dangle from the chain at an elevation sufficient to submerge the pieces. I doubt if your quantities would require motorized chains initially, but with this system a lot of parts could be dipped into a relatively small container and dried over a piece of cardboard, etc.

As a gift many years ago, I was given a book of "How to Make your own Chess Pieces". In it was a method for using a band saw (or scroll saw?) to cut all four sides one at a time by making a cut, flip/rotate 90*, repeat, flip, bla, bla, bla. I honestly wondered if some pieces could be made in linear segments of maybe 1-2 dozen pieces and then reserve the band sawing for just 2 cuts instead of 4. Food for thought.

I hope this helps,
Otis

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