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There are a lot of options to use as a finish for wood. what i want to know is one that is tough, looks nice and will not chip when hit against something like thorns. I was thinking linseed oil would be good but would like if you share your opinion on what you think is best.
 

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As you surmised, a stick takes a lot of wear. Just about anything you put ON the wood will chip off and look bad. Linseed or tung oil are good and simple to replace when needed. My favorite is an old time wood worker's favorite; mix equal parts of boiled linseed oil & spar varnish & turpentine or mineral spirits.

The linseed oil gives good penetration and appearance. The spar varnish has UV inhibitors and makes it more weather proof. The turpentine thins it down for better penetration. Apply the mixture just as you would an oil finish, adding as many coats as you like. After a few coats it will begin to get more glossy.
 

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Personally, for a tough finish that will last, I think it's hard to beat polyurethane. I know it isn't the traditional finish for higher end sticks, but for a heavy use stick that is expected to be a balance between nice looking and tough, I like poly.

The picture is my stick. I made it over 25 years ago and have never retouched it. I can't even begin to tell you how many miles this stick has on it. It has been through streams, used to pry rocks, break trail, ice in the winter and mud in the spring. Even threw it at a couple of dogs which had strayed into our back yard and were harassing the gf's horse.
 

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Where to start? A lot depends on the type of wood being finished. Some woods like maple & pine do not take oils well without giving a blotchy appearance

So here's a list in no order on what I have used on sticks.

I have use Boiled linseed oil, left it plain, then buffed with a denim cloth, (chunk of old blue jean will polish up like a 0000 steel wool pad)

On others I have put spar polyurethane over the BLO.

I have stained sticks with Minwax or Varathane oil based stains then waxed with Howard's Feed and Wax or coated with poly.

Some I have stained with gel stains, notably maple and pine then finished with spar poly.

Now I have been using quite a bit of Danish Oil, the ingredients I suspect are pretty much in Lily's Dad's mix, then the Howard's wax.

Several on the forum here like tung oil.

Whatever finish you decide on try it on a small section of the wood or better yet if you have a chunk of the stick to test on do that before applying a final finish. Best to check for finish appearance on a small area that can be easily sanded off than lather oil all over a stick and find out it's a blotchy mess.

( learned this lesson the hard way)

Whatever you choose undoubtedly it will look great!

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The types of wood I plan on using it on are american hornbeam and hickory both very dense woods. Does this make any difference in what to finish them with?
 

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I did some googling and both seem to take oils, stains and poly quite well. Like Mark suggested, get a small piece of each and do some testing on them; see which one you like best.

All the sources I read about hornbeam said one thing in common: it is a very tough wood but has a very low tolerance to getting wet, so you really have to seal the heck out of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Currently i am leaning towards the mixture of equal parts linseed oil, varnish and mineral spirits suggested by LilysDad. Yet i still have one more question is polyurethane or varnish tougher?
 

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Poly is tougher than traditional varnish, it's also tougher to repair from what I've seen. The problem with film finishes on sticks is eventually they will chip or crack with the possibility of water getting in and staining the wood.

I like oil finishes. I've used both tung oil and boiled linseed oil. Both work well. I wipe a thin coat on and let it dry between coats. I generally sand again after the first coat with 220 grit paper. After anywhere from a few to several coats (it varies) when it starts developing a shine, I go over it with steel wool to remove any drips or dust that got in it then oil it again. After the oil cures I give it a final buff with steel wool and paste wax.

Varnish and poly will develop a shine quicker but I don't think they penetrate as deep. I also don't think those finishes are as easy to repair if needed.
 

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I thought we were supposed to ignore this one.

I hate to be contrary, but tests have shown that oil finishes are very poor at protecting from moisture and wear.

Danish oil (and various other oil/varnish blends) are entirely different. They feature oils, usually linseed oil w/ various ratios of some kind of varnish which actually builds up and protects from moisture.
 
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