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Traditional finishing materials for furniture finishing

Traditional finishing materials are the materials that were used in furniture finishing in early time when furniture industry started to finish the furniture. The traditional finishing material were used when coating as finishing material has not been found yet. At that time, the spray gun which is now become the most popular equipment to apply the finishing materials still has not been known. Finishing materials were applied in a traditional way such: padded, dipped, brushed or wiped.
Now although most of the finishing processes use modern materials and is done with modern equipment, but apparently there is still demand for furniture with traditional finishing materials. The traditional finishing material produce a unique appearance that can not be imitated exactly with modern finishing. Some traditional finishing materials that now used still used are: oil, wax, varnish and shellac. The advantages of the other traditional finishing materials, is his simple application, does not need special equipment and room. Therefore, those finishing materials, are also good choice when the equipment and finishing facilities is not available and the desired quality of finishing is not too high.

  • Oil finish
Oil may be the oldest finishing material used in the wood finishing. The oil finish is very easy and simple in application. It does not require special finishing equipment and room. The wood furniture is brushed or dipped with the oil and then the oil excess is wiped with rag or cloth. The oil is let absorbed and react with the wood to make color and finish looked at the wood. The finishing results is very natural, enhance the beauty of the wood with a natural, alive and interesting look. The disadvantage is that the oil finish can not form color. The final color is highly dependent to the basic colors of the wood underneath. This finishing also very thin and almost does not form film so it won't provide any protection to the wood.
There are many names for this oil finish such as : teak oil, Danish oil, china oil, etc. Oil finish is made from extracted beans or trees (linseed oil), Tung oil is made from extracted the seeds of a tong plant which is sourced in China, so it is known as china oil. Oil plants can also be heated to a temperature 500 degrees Fahrenheit to increase gloss result and reduce drying time. The oil finish is still available at the finishing store with some development. The oil that is developed by processed and mixed with resin is known as the varnish.

wax finish

oil finish for teakwood

  • Varnish.
Varnish is finishing material made from oil with chemical processes. The oil is mixed and cooked with the phenolic resin, alkyd or urethane. The oil used is the same type with oil that used for oil finish. Varnish will react with the hot air to produce a stronger and elastic film. It can provide better protection to the wood. The drying time of this material is relatively long, up to 1 day for each layer application. Varnish is usually clear without any color, although can also be mixed with pigment to form a specific color. The application can brush or wipe, but now it can also be diluted with thinner and sprayed. Thinner that mostly used is the oil like turpentine or mineral spirit. Varnish will form a film on the surface, and will give protection to the wood underneath. The film thickness depend on the application layer. To get the thick film we need to apply varnish many times. The drying of every layer is very important, we have to make sure the previous layer is really dry before apply the next layer on it.

  • Wax
As the oil finish, wax produce a very natural appearance with very soft and smooth surface. The most widely used wax is the wax obtained from the bee farm (beeswax). It will melt at a temperature about 140 degree Fahrenheit. Wax applications is very easy by brush or wipe evenly on the surface then cleaned with a cloth. The resulting surface is very unique: slippery and smooth when being touched with very natural look. Wax is available in natural or colored, usually brown and black. Although wax is available with some color but the finished color produced by this materials is very limited. the color and appearance produced depends on the color of wood underneath. Wax finish is also give only very small protection to the wood underneath.

  • Shellac (politur)
In the year of 1820 to 1920, shellac is an extremely popular used as a finishing material for the wood before it was replaced by the coating. This shellac can built a film layer that be able to provide better protection than oil or wax finish. Shellac is basically have a yellowish color and when applied it will produce a yellow color depending on how thick the layer of shellac. In the next development there is also available uncolored shellac (bleach shellac), which provided film without any color. The bleach shellac is used to finish the natural or white color.
Shellac is made from natural resin produced by plants from India, shellac is available in the store in the chips form. The pieces need to be solved in alcohol to make liquid form before applied to the wood. The application was originally by padding on the surface. The padding is repeat many times until get the desired thickness. The previous layer of shellac must be dry before the next application. The more application the thicker film formed, the higher gloss will be generated and the resulting color will be darker or yellower. But now shellac is also possible to be sprayed by spray gun. By spray method the application can be done much faster and easier controlled to obtain the desired thickness.
The shellac finishing layer will provide sufficient protection to the wood underneath. The disadvantages are: he requires long drying time for each application, the color selection and gloss is very limited and the difficulties in controlled. Now the finishing process with shellac is almost entirely replaced with the coating as a modern finishing material. Shellac is still used in the furniture industry especially because his application is simple. This material can applied with cloth or brush and does need a special equipment and room. The shellac is save material and almost does not make pollution to the environment.

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