SOS to all experienced woodworkers!

spudishApril 16, 2012

I'm desperate for experienced voices to chime in on a finish. We recently had a black walnut countertop made for our kitchen island. It was milled from one of our trees, kiln dried and delivered just last week. After visiting with a number of helpful gentlemen at our local woodworking shop and hovering over a number of posts in the kitchen forum, I chose to use a completely food safe linseed oil and beeswax finish called Tried and True. I put on 3 coats, allowing it to dry for 24 hours in between each one and then buffing directed. It looked beautiful! Then someone set a dry can of bag balm on it for about an left an unsightly grey square and a slightly raised grain feeling. A stray drop of water from the colander, quickly toweled off left a grey streak. We have a family of four children...and we live the life of a family with four children...busy and sometimes messy. Tis is a counter we will be using as bar seating for lunches, etc. Have I made a terrible mistake? Did I choose the wrong product? Did I do something wrong when applying? Is there any going back? I fear that all of the long and painful process of taking this tree from our front yard to our kitchen was jinxed by my poor choice of finishes.

Please, any wise words and advice would be so appreciated. Thank you!

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You made your choice based on "food safety" That finish offers a low level of protection. The product you used is primarily for wooden bowels and utensils.

The product will still allow the surface to wear, a beeswax film is not very tough, even if mixed with a polymerizing oil, like linseed.

3 coats of anything is not enough finish for a countertop. For oil based finishes, I use about 6 coats for a countertop. The first 3 coats soak into the surface. When you buff after only 24 hours, and after every coat, it is impossible to build a surface film.

Use Waterlox.

Strip off the beeswax. Sand the surface with 180 or 220. Wipe it down liberally with clean rags and denatured alcohol. Follow with mineral spirits and a new clean rag. Test the Waterlox on a small spot to ensure you prepped correctly.

Apply 4 or more coats of waterlox original, don't use the Satin, its not really good for countertops, its a slightly softer finish.

After the top cures for several days at room temperature, it is food safe.

Most wood coatings are food safe after cured properly. Bars and restaurants have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a food safe finish. It's all about marketing.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 3:58PM
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I don't know any cure to get beeswax completely out of bare wood other than a very "hot" stripper or years of time.
The soft gooey combo of oil + wax is a real bummer to put a harder finish on top of. I would use lots of stripper ("Kutzit" is my go-to) to dissolve the goo. Wait to see if any more comes up from the pores; a heat gun would be dandy to test it.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 4:59PM
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That probably would have been my last choice of finish for a counter top. I would definitely take a heat gun to the surface, strip off what I could and consider some heavy sanding. Polyurethane is probably your best finish choice, and build a nice film finish. You might also consider a conversion finish for the durability. All in all, not impossible to fix, but definitely labor intensive.

Good luck, I hope you are able to make the best of your beautiful walnut.

Werner J Stiegler

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 9:07PM
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