Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lemon Oil? Really?


Lets talk about lemon oil. This subject gets me more email questions than just about any other subject. I think that's because I am the only one on the planet that uses the stuff for scroll saw projects. Maybe I'm the crazy one here.

I re-posted the finishing video yesterday because of several questions and the video just prompted more questions.

First, let me say that I don't want to say it's the best way to finish a project. It's just the way I finish projects. It has worked for me for years and it might work for you also. Then again you might hate it. Use what works for you. There are so many ways to finish a scroll saw project that it would be nuts to say there were a best way.

The number one question I get is about cost. At first glance lemon oil looks expensive. A small 8oz bottle cost from $4 to $8. It takes 3 or 4 bottle to fill a medium sized container deep enough to dip a project. The thing is a little goes a long way. I am not a production cutter but I probably make more scroll saw projects than most of you. In the last 3 years I have purchased no more than 6 bottles of lemon oil and my dipping container is still full. After I dip the project I let the excess run off back into the container. There is very little waste because the stuff has a very slow evaporation rate. I don't even bother to cover the container most nights.

The next question is why use lemon oil instead of tung oil. There in not a great answer to that question. Lemon oil has a thinner viscosity than tung oil so it is easier for me to dip the project which is the reason I use lemon oil in the first place. Tung oil is a nice product and I consider it a wipe on wipe off finish. Tung oil gives better protection to the wood and does not dry out like lemon oil does. I have no problem with tung oil it's just not what I use.

For me the primary disadvantage of lemon oil is the slow evaporation rate. If you dip a project in lemon oil and leave it un-sealed it will seep oil for days even after it looks dry. You absolutely have to seal it with an acrylic or lacquer spray for any protection. If you sit in on a table cloth un-sealed you will come back and find a stain on the cloth. Tung oil will not do that. When it cures it's safe.

Let me say this again. I am not recommending that you use lemon oil. I am just showing you how I finish my projects. I like how easy it is to use. I like the low cost. I like the natural finish it gives.

If any of you would like to make a video about how you finish your scroll saw projects you could upload it to YouTube and I would love to share it with everyone. Just drop me the link and I'll post it.

I hope this answers a few more of your questions.





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Think Safety

Remember to keep the safety of yourself and others in your work shop in your thoughts at all times. Always wear eye and ear protection. Follow all the manufactures warnings that came with your power tools. If I demonstrate something on this web site that you don't feel is safe, don't do it. Your safety is your responsibility. Fingers are handy things, try to keep all of them.
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