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Why We Apply Our Oil Finish by Hand

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WHY WE APPLY OUR OIL FINISH BY HAND

In our “How It’s Made” series, we’re inviting you into our woodshop for a look at what goes into small batch production.

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We finish all but one of our wood-based products by hand with a mix of plant-based oils and waxes. The process is simple, but time consuming. Starting off, you take a small rag, dip it in oil, then apply it to the surface of the wood with circular strokes while taking care not to miss a spot. (For many, this is the most satisfying step of the manufacturing process, as the result of all the hard work - the chopping and shaping and sanding - is over, and the full beauty of the wood is suddenly revealed.) When the wood’s completely covered, you take a clean rag, wipe the excess oil dry, and set the product aside to dry for 24 hours.

In traditional mass production, the norm would be to spray-finish wood products with a varnish using a HVLP (high volume low pressure) sprayer. It’s easier and faster to follow this route. So why do we do it by hand?

We do it because we want the final product to resemble its origins as much as possible. Rather than simply coating the outside of the wood in a polymerized resin solution, the natural oil we use penetrates the wood for an enhancement in its beauty and feel. By doing it by hand, a greater character is achieved. (An added benefit is that, unlike clear coats, the finish can be easily repaired and refurbished with a bit of sandpaper and a touch of oil.) And because we only deal in small batch production, this process is still practical for us.

With a designated staging area for oil finishing, we get a chance to step away from the grind of making and relax. It’s a time to chat, to joke and laugh, all while transforming something good into something great.

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