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Best finish for old rough cut lumber

20475 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  high6ix
I have a few pieces of rough cut (im assuming) walnut from a local lumber yard. It was stacked with their unusable wood they labelled "barn wood" because of it's character. I really love the appearance of these pieces but am having a hard time deciding how to finish them to prevent them from falling apart.

They have some worm/bug holes all along the bark layer and it is a little brittle, but I want to preserve as much of the wood including this area as possible. They will be decorative wall hangings in the end. I have a link to a photo of the piece if anyone would like to see it.

So my question, is what would be the best way to keep the natural color, but finish these to help prevent the more worn areas, specifically the worm bark layer, from falling apart over time or being easily picked away.

Would a two part epoxy work well?
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I think a film finish would look bad on rough lumber so I would recommend using an oil finish such as Penofin, Tung oil or Watco oil finish.

structurally though, i'm afraid something that has no bonding to it will allow the edges to be chipped away rather easily. Is there any way to strengthen this weak material prior to finishing? Perhaps a watered down glue mixture that could somewhat penetrate while still retaining color and clarity?
oil would be better than a film finish. with out seeing it to see how it looks, maybe cut a 1/4 ply about a 1/2 inch or so from the edges and glue and screw it to your board. that would keep it together.
I think thinning down a flat varnish would bind the wood together better than thinning glue but I believe it will only help a little. I can't see any coating really adding much to the wood structurally. Anything that would bind the wood together enough to keep crumbling wood from falling apart would need a very thick coating like one of these epoxy pour finishes.

Thanks for your thoughts, it's a tough spot to be in because the wood itself is beautiful with all of it's imperfections, so it kills me to think it may not work out in regard to keeping the edges. Here is a link to what it looks like. sdrv.ms/NtTXwL (copy and paste)

I am thinking that my only somewhat safe bet will be the two part pour epoxy. Other than that, like Steve said, i'm kind of screwed. A piece of wood on the back would help the back edge, but my concern is along the sides which would still be exposed.
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