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Wood Preserver; Home Blended

About this time last year I got fed up with well known major brands and DIY store home branded wood preservers basically not doing what is says on the tin.

So I began experimenting with good old fashioned Linseed Oil. I am certain that what I have done has been done before, but has now been pushed aside by the power of the modern marketing companies and their products making it look so easy in the adverts.

Several of my pallet timber projects have been coated with cold pressed, raw Linseed Oil which is more often sold as a food additive for horses these days than it is as a wood preserver. OK, so I do realise that one or two of you will be still be using Linseed oil when oiling Cricket bats, other items of wooden sports equipment, and wooden handles of garden tools, etc. but as a general use wood preservative Linseed oil seems to have fallen out of fashion and by the wayside.

Many of you will know that about 18 months ago, I became an Apiarist (or Bee keeper) and Keith my Bee keeping mentor and I now have between us 19 national hives dotted around the city including one, and soon to be two hives (No 20) in our garden. All of these hives have been made with pallet timbers and reclaimed tongue and groove floor boards. Preserving the timbers with something Bee friendly was becoming a bit of an issue when we began reading the labels on various shop and store stocked products. That is when I hit upon the idea of using Linseed oil................ a readily available, natural oil pressed from the seeds of a plant (Flax) that Bees would be familiar with.

Purchasing Linseed oil from DIY stores and local ironmongers was prohibitive at around 6.00 to 9.00 per 500ml bottle, but I remembered using it as an additive in Horse rations many years ago. A quick hunt around the Internet and I found 5 litre containers of Linseed oil for 24.00 plus free delivery (and I am certain I can buy it cheaper now I know where to look).

If you use a soft bristle paint brush I have found that 1 litre of cold pressed raw Linseed Oil will cover an area approximately 5-6 times greater than that of 1 litre of the best store bought wood preservative......... so you are already well into money saving mode! And as it is an air drying natural oil, you get a really good looking finish. However, you are going to need to give the wood at least 2 coats, and 3 is better...........but you are going to have to do that with even the very best off the shelf wood preservers!

So, various wooden projects of mine, including our 18 reclaimed timber national bee hives (one colony of bees; number 19 is currently housed in a hive that we only just finished making 2 weeks ago and we had to transfer the very agitated swarm we captured into it straight away before applying the Linseed oil) have each received 2 or 3 coats of Linseed oil before being put to use, and have gone through the winter relatively unscathed and without either serious deterioration, decay or rot setting in on any of the timbers, but I will be honest and tell you that some of them that bore the full brunt of the winter weather are beginning to look a bit tatty.

That is when I hit upon the idea of blending Beeswax into some Linseed oil to make a more robust (and really good looking) weatherproof timber finish.

It has taken me 2 weeks of experimenting in the kitchen to come to what I think is the perfect ratio of 40:1 or 1 litre of Linseed Oil to 25 g of Beeswax. I now have a "Gloopy" brush able, semi thick and still pourable solution that is drawn into the timber, but leaves a hard dry, semi gloss surface that if required will buff up to a shine with a cloth and some elbow grease.

I utilised the stove top coffee jar in a saucepan bain-marie method to melt the Beeswax into the Linseed oil, and then filtered it while everything was still hot. The filters I used are very cheap filters for filtering paints for spraying, but like everything in this world of ours; if you buy cheap you pay twice (and often more than twice). The filters I have cost 2p each and the solvents in the paints I use dissolved the glue line on the paper of the filter resulting in unfiltered paint being dumped into the spray pot, requiring the pot to be cleaned out and the paint filtered again.... for my painting purposes I have now gone back to the 14p each but very robust and reliable paint filters, leaving me with well over 200 of the 2p each cheap ones for my home-brewing and other escapades of mine that require filtration.

25g of Beeswax floating on the surface of 1 litre of cold pressed raw Linseed Oil.

Everything coming nicely up to temperature and the wax beginning to melt. Note the second coffee jar ready for receiving this blend being warmed in a second pan to prevent heat shock breakage during the transfer.

Pouring the hot, blended mixture through a paint filter. Note that I am wearing an oven glove to handle the jar of hot linseed oil and beeswax.

Running nicely through the filter.

Filtering the detritus out of the hot wax and Linseed oil blend; bits of dead Bees, cold killed brood, dust, bits of plants, unripened pollen etc.

The "Gloopy" semi-set Result


Nice one , I must remember this one .

Absolutely cracking, as a complimentary therapist I should have thought of this!

Great blend! When you start marketing it, let me know!

A few minutes ago, I  finished coating the spare Beehive made from reclaimed pallet timbers with my Beeswax and Linseed oil blend. The Beehive got a coat of pure Linseed oil yesterday, and I have allowed 24 hours for the wood to soak up the oil. Today the Linseed oil & Beeswax blend was used to seal the wood, interestingly enough the Bees were interested in this blend, but I think that is because of the Beeswax in it. I did however have one minor on going problem this morning ...... Oz liked licking the freshly done woodwork, so I had to get the taller trestles out and lift everything up out of Oz's way, and give him his own bit of wood soaked in Linseed & beeswax to lick and to play with.

The ambient twilight is insufficient for me to get a decent photo at the moment, so I'll take a couple in the morning.

Cheers for that ..............Magnet

Here is a couple of photos to show the difference between the treated and untreated reclaimed pallet timbers.

On the left is untreated Hive number 19 (populated) and on the right is treated Hive Number 20 (currently vacant). Sometime during this week I'll swap the colony over from 19 to 20, and then I'll have the opportunity to treat number 19 with a coat of plain Linseed oil, and then a then a coat of blended Linseed & Beeswax....... hopefully before another swarm becomes available.

This morning's work-in-progress; 2 National Supers made from reclaimed pallet timbers that have just received the coat of Linseed & Beeswax. (in the background leaning up against the hedge and covered by the camo sheet is the reclaimed pallet timber theatre sets I have made for a local AmDram society's up and coming touring production of Gammer Gurtons Needle).


Good job there  

Dont you need to boil the linseed oil to change its properties? I know its boiled (actually its not boiled anymore but processed in some way) for cricket bats.

It might be worth thining the oil a little for the first coat so it can soak in better.

Justme wrote:
Dont you need to boil the linseed oil to change its properties? I know its boiled (actually its not boiled anymore but processed in some way) for cricket bats.

It might be worth thining the oil a little for the first coat so it can soak in better.

Boiled Linseed oil is processed with metal salts to make it dry faster; 1-2 days. After processing it is toxic to both Humans and Animals.

Raw Linseed oil is only filtered to remove bits & pieces after the cold pressing extraction process, and is fit for Human and Animal consumption. When used as a wood preservative raw Linseed oil takes on average between 10-14 days to fully dry.

I am very happy with the way the wood takes up raw Linseed Oil and it does penetrate well and deep into the fibres. I could be tempted to blend both a Linseed Oil and Turpentine mixture for initial coating purposes, and a Linseed Oil, Beeswax and natural turpentine mixture for subsequent coatings and the final weatherproofing top coat. However, getting hold of genuine Turpentine around here is next to impossible and then when you do find it, it is in small quantities for artists and is extremely expensive.

Being me, if I was absolutely determined to follow this route, I would probably make my own turpentine by using a Home-made retort kiln like I did a few years back when I "baked" Leylandii root balls which resulted in some excellent fast and very hot burning charcoal (which local traditionalist blade smiths loved!) some usable Tar, a very fragrant pitch, and some very volatile turpentine which was extremely hazardous to collect.

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