Hemp Oil

A couple of days ago I was reading the Lost Art Press blog where Chris Schwarz mentions the different types of finishes he uses and which of those finishes look good immediately versus those that look good over 20 years. He then lists examples like; milk paint, waxes, and oils of all sorts (linseed, tung, walnut, etc.) Then I thought to myself, “Well hell, Anita has been using hemp oil for years. I wonder how many people know about it?”

Hemp oil is a 100% natural, biodegradable finish pressed from hemp seeds. As you may know hemp and marijuana are sometimes confused with one another. Hemp contains no THC and you can’t get high from it’s fumes. Hemp oil is food safe, has no chemicals, no VOC’s and is completely breathable which is HUGE for me.

My shop sits in the basement of our house. Getting proper ventilation down there with little basement windows is nearly impossible. I can’t use any type of solvents or chemicals down there as it stinks up the whole house. I can’t even spray WD40 without my wife getting upset about the smell. It’s one of the reasons I use shellac on many of my projects and coat my antique tools with my own blend of mineral oil – orange oil – beeswax solution. I even have to use Minwax stains in the garage.

Hemp oil doesn’t stink up the house as it smells like crushed walnuts. My wife loves the stuff! She uses on nearly everything she paints. And if she doesn’t mind the smell, then it must be good! We’ve been buying it by the gallon at Homestead House Paint company in Canada. Because hemp is often associated with marijuana, it’s been tough to find a supplier for it in the states (but that may change as more states legalize marijuana and become more educated about hemp). Unfortunately, the majority of hemp oil that is available around here is sold as an essential oil for outrageous prices.

According to their website, they sell smaller quantities of the stuff, but I can only select to buy one gallon or five gallon buckets. If you want to try hemp oil without jumping in too deep, you can find a store that sells Miss Mustard Seed milk paint. Miss Mustard Seed is a lady who has a popular design and painting blog and she partnered with Homestead House to brand her own line of paint. It’s basically the exact same stuff.

I applied two coats of hemp oil on some scrap hardwood samples to show how they turn out on various species. In my opinion cherry looks the best as it really pops the grain. Poplar is shown just to show how the oil would look on secondary woods like the sides of drawers.

You apply hemp oil the same way as tung oil with a brush or cloth and allow it to dry wiping off the excess in about twenty minutes. Because the oil doesn’t have any solvents, it takes a bit longer for it to dry. In fact, I’ve seen some extra oil to wipe off after 24 hours when the oil has been allowed to absorb in the wood. It takes about thirty days to fully cure. Because hemp oil is food safe, you can even use it on cutting boards and wooden utensils.

Below are a few pieces Anita has painted or stained over the years with hemp oil as a top coat. As you can see, it gives off a matte finish with little sheen which looks nice on old furniture. If you have a basement shop and can’t take the fumes, give hemp oil a try.

Repairing the Foot of a Walnut Table

A few weeks ago, my wife and I, were visiting thrift shops in Cincinnati when we ran across a round walnut table for $20.00 at Goodwill. There was nothing special about it. It had a dull flat finish and was missing the extension wings that go in the middle. It even had two feet that were broken. Anita asked me if I could remake them and I told her I could, so we took it home.

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In order to fix the feet, I grabbed some scrap walnut and glued pieces to them to re-sculpt the feet.

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Once the glue dried, I cut the arch of the foot with my band saw, then I sawed off the sides with a hand saw.

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Next, I stuck the leg on the lathe and turned the pad of the foot.

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I then brought the foot over to my workbench and carved the rest of the foot by hand using chisels and rasps.

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After shaping the foot was complete, I started to sand the leg with 80 grit sand paper working down to 220 grit.

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With the foot finished, I was happy with the way it turned out as it matched the other two. I then repeated the same steps for the other broken foot.

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Noticing the top was solid walnut, I decided to sand off the dull stained finish. You can see how bland the table was when we bought it.

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A few minutes of sanding, the table was really starting to shine again.

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After applying three coats of hemp oil, you can see how the table has been brought back to life having much more character between the sap and heart wood of the walnut. Looks much nicer than the boring spray toner stain that was on it before. This piece will be a nice addition in my wife’s booth as a display table.

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Visting Brian Boggs Chair Maker

If your wife comes to you one day and tells you that she wants to go to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC to see how the Vanderbilt’s lived, tell her “sure, let’s go.” Then while strolling the Biltmore Village below the mansion, shopping at all the retail stores, head a block East and take a right on London St. There you will find the studio of chair maker Brian Boggs.

My wife and I visited his shop this past weekend while in Asheville. The building he operates out of is nothing fancy. In fact without noticing his sign out front, we almost passed it up. When we walked in, I looked at one of his chairs and sat down. His wife Melanie looked me up and down and asked “are you a woodworker?” I said I was and asked her how she knew. She said that most woodworkers will walk in and immediately sit in one of his chairs.

Melanie was nice enough to spend a few minutes with us and explain some of Brian’s furniture. She even took us into his shop area where we were able to sit in his new Sunniva outdoor swing. The thing was impressive and very comfortable. You can see the swing here on his website. http://www.brianboggschairmakers.com/product/sunniva-swing/

I don’t have any photos of his shop because I thought it would have been rude to do so. All I have to say is that it is worth the time to stop by and swing in for a visit if you’re in the area. The amount of 16/4 mahogany he has in stock was probably worth more than my house. However, if you do visit, don’t expect to have a long conversation with Brian about woodworking. He was extremely busy while we visited. One of the things that I noticed about his shop is that I didn’t see a table saw. He may have had one, but considering a lot of his work is curved, him not owning one doesn’t surprise me. He does have a sweet Old Iron band saw that looked like it was the staple of the shop.

After the tour, I asked Melanie if Brian would like some hemp oil to try out. She went into the shop and asked him if he did. It must have peaked his curiosity because he came out and asked me about it. I told him it’s made from hempseed, is solvent free, contains no VOC’s, is environmentally friendly, but is not readily available in the US. I gave him a small 4 oz container of the oil and wrote down the website where he could buy it. Whether or not he will use the oil on his furniture in the future remains uncertain, but being able to give him something he was unaware of was pretty cool.