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post #1 of 4 Old 07-09-2015, 04:00 AM Thread Starter
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still learning

im very new to woodworking but its not a hobby its a way of life im hoping to get into carpentry eventually, but im still very new to it, so tell me something. what's the difference between stain,varnish,finish,sealer

like say I use tung oil what is that considered, and what are the others and what are they for?
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post #2 of 4 Old 07-09-2015, 05:50 AM
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Grizzly,there's a cpl excellent books that have been around for about 10 or so years that will put your questions/answers into.....about as logical and concise of a format as can be had.Flexner is one I have and can't think of the other.....they'll turn up quick on a book search.

The "issue" with finishing is,like certain other trades/crafts/disciplines,it is open for interpretation.Hence the book referring above(nice formats).Put two well adj sprayguns(brushes,rags,etc)in the hands of two well seasoned finish guys/gals and you can get two different outcomes.This is NOT a bad thing.In fact,it's one of those "signature" items that makes each of them special.

Then there's the chemistry side of it.One of my sons is a chem PHD,and he'll be the first to say that even in chemistry like I said above,is open to interpretation.Change one tiny....seemingly insignificant part of the process and what was a discussion now becomes an argument.

Get a book,and pick something easy to practice on.Freeby,discarded or unwanted furniture is hard to beat.Scraps are usually recommended and I won't argue....but sometimes you need a larger pallet to practice on.In spraygun world,I tell everyone to just start spraying everything in your shop.Even the trashcan could use some ghost flames.....airbrush the litter box.If it isn't nailed down,shoot it,haha.Best of luck,BW

Those who say it cannot be done shouldn't interrupt the people doing it.
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post #3 of 4 Old 07-09-2015, 07:13 AM
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Stain is a pigment mixed in a medium to color the wood. On a oil stain they mix linseed oil with a pigment and thin it with mineral spirits. The linseed oil is just barely enough of a binder to hold it to the wood so you can't brush it on like paint and let it dry. The excess has to be wiped off or the finish you put over the top will adhere to the stain and peal off.

A finish is a multitude of different products which seals the wood fibers. If you looked at wood through a microscope it would look like a cluster of drinking straws. When wood is in a raw state the straws will allow water or stains to penetrate. A finish plugs the ends of the straws sealing out water and other foreign substances that would ruin the project.

A varnish is one of many different finishes which depending on brand is a mixture linseed oil, tung oil and other resins which not only plugs the fibers of the wood provides a coating over the wood like a sheet of plastic giving further protection.

A tung oil finish is 100% tung oil is used that is all it is is the oil from a tung nut. It's a very thin slow drying finish that was originally used as a finish on boats. Since it is thin if only a few coats is used it will only seal the ends of the wood fibers. Tung oil is considered an oil finish. With enough coats it will provide a protective coating just like a varnish. There are tung oil finishes that are a mixture of tung oil and linseed oil which will finish the wood but the linseed oil content makes it a lot less water resistant.

When finishing and apply a coat of finish the fibers of the wood will stand up and make the surface rough. To make it smooth you must sand the finish between coats to remove the fibers that have stood up. Normally a finish is a is a product that is very hard. This makes the sanding a lot of work so you use a sealer. A sealer is kind of a clear primer which is made softer so you can sand the surface smooth. Once you have the sealer smooth you use the harder finish over the top
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post #4 of 4 Old 07-09-2015, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrizzlyHeart View Post
im very new to woodworking but its not a hobby its a way of life im hoping to get into carpentry eventually, but im still very new to it, so tell me something. what's the difference between stain,varnish,finish,sealer

like say I use tung oil what is that considered, and what are the others and what are they for?
In short:
Stain colors the wood
Varnish is just one type of many available finishes
Finish is the top coat. It seals the wood and can add a shine.
Sealers seal the color, prevent the color from bleeding through the top coats and prepares the piece for the final finish.
Normally we use only 2 steps for new construction:
1. Stain for color
2. Finish with your choice of Finish

Tung Oil is just one of many types of oil finishes. Not the best in my opinion.
I hope you find this helpful
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