Tung oil-based finishes, cut with natural lemon and orange terpenes, can be polished to a mirror finish or left matt.
The citrus scent of organoil is what most people comment on when they visit the workshop. Organoil is an environmentally friendly Australian company that has been supplying woodworkers with premium natural tung nut-based finishes for ages.
What marks this family of finishes out from the rest is that they use natural terpenes (distilled from orange and lemon waste) as the solvent. These terpenes cut the tung oil and allow the finish to seep deep into the pores of the timber. Oil finishes soak into the timber and allow it to breathe.
HI-SPEED FINISHING OIL
I have been using Hi-Speed Finishing Oil on the legs I turn for decades. It is a simple finish to apply, however the process is not intuitive. The steps are as follows. Sand the surface down to 600 wet and dry and then liberally brush on the finish. If the timber is dry, apply another coat of finish. Next step is to use the 400-grit wet and dry (still loaded with the dust) and sand the surface. What is important here is that the slurry produced by the wet finish and the abraded dust works its way into the pores of the timber. After the whole surface has been worked, paper towel is then used to remove the excess oil. If you are in a hurry, all you need to do is use the paper side of the wet and dry to burnish the surface, however if you are looking for a premium finish you need to polish the surface with 1200 wet and dry (no more oil is required) followed by 2000 wet and dry. Two days later you can buff the leg with a soft cloth.
HARD BURNISHING OIL
Even though I was used to using Hi-Speed Finishing Oil to burnish the legs that I turned, I was surprised to see that you could achieve a similar finish on a flat surface. I watched mesmerised (at a Sydney Working with Wood Show years ago) as a piece of rough Tasmanian blackwood was sanded and polished to a mirror finish. This was done with a Festool sander using grit sizes up to 600. After that, the oil was applied and the slurry worked into the surface with the sander itself. Wet and dry papers quickly transformed the surface into a hard and silky-smooth finish. Since then we have been using Hard Burnishing Oil on the stools and tables made in our workshop.
Nothing goes to waste in the workshop. Offcuts get sorted and stored so they can become stock for use in the construction of trivets and tongs. As you can see above, Danish Oil is our finish of choice when it comes to wooden utensils. If possible, it is best to apply the Danish Oil to the components before you assemble the trivets. This allows the oil to soak into the end grain. After application, we let the oil soak in for 10 minutes and then use paper towel to remove the residue (you don’t want the trivet to stain the tablecloth). The finish allows the trivets to breathe and is easily refurbished a year down the track.
If you are looking for a satin finish for a working surface (like a countertop or table) the first step will be to apply Hard Burnishing Oil. After the oil has hardened (best to leave it for a week) a buff with Woodsheen will cut the shine out of the surface and leave you with a soft satin glow. The beeswax in Woodsheen also makes it an excellent finish if you want to nourish and rejuvenate a tired surface.
The trick we use in the workshop to make sure our drawers slide like silk is to polish both the runners and the drawer sides with beeswax polish.
We also use beeswax paste as a polish to rejuvenate a surface so that its patina glows warm and the surface is silky smooth.
Next time you visit a woodwork gallery and are left amazed by the quality of finish, smell the air. If you get a whiff of citrus, it may be that Organoil was the finish of choice.