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Pros and cons of different thinnners for oil varnish


Wood Butcher
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I've always used artist's turpentine up till now, but was wondering if it may make any difference to use instead mineral spirits (white spirit).
On samples, both seem to work fine, but I've not committed mineral spirits to an instrument yet.

For those who have/are using it, what have been your experiences compared to turpentine?

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You may know this but just in case. Mineral (petroleum) spirits comes in different formulations, and the formulations come in different grades. If you find one that works well for you, you should probably stick to that specific product.  

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57 minutes ago, Jim Bress said:

You may know this but just in case. Mineral (petroleum) spirits comes in different formulations, and the formulations come in different grades. If you find one that works well for you, you should probably stick to that specific product.  

As do turpentine. There are all kinds of solvents which all have differing abilities to dissolve or liquify your varnish as well as different effects on open time and drying. I have found that I have to modify the varnish(es) on a coat by coat basis according to how it is actually acting. 

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Both turpentine and mineral spirits (the ones I've tried) seemed to work well, evaporate about as quickly, and wet well on previously dried varnish (avoids fisheye).  Tested on glass, the turpentine left a slight sticky residue, but not the mineral spirits.  Probably not in an amount to make a big difference, though.

Both solvents dry too quickly for the way I'd like to work; lavender oil is way too slow and leaves a lot of residue.  I'd like to try other versions of mineral spirits, particularly the "high flash" type (which should be slower to dry), but have not been able to find a source for an amount smaller than an industrial drum.

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Diamond G was a revelation to me - thanks to Joe for making it known. Gamsol or Stoddard Solvent grades of petroleum distillate are good too. Food grade d-limonene is my absolute favorite, with the addition of a little a-turpineol and cold pressed spike oil. The brushability can't be beat, as far as how I like to work. Basically whatever non polar solvent you choose, get the highest grade stuff you can find 

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9 hours ago, Don Noon said:

I haven't tried oil of rosemary... how does that compare?

I use "olio di spigo lavandato (spike oil) sometimes, it is very nice, smells darn good, and makes brushing easier. It was mentioned by Sacconi as a solvent.

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23 minutes ago, joerobson said:

When I visited Renato Scrollavezza he showed me a gorgeous viola he made for Elisa when she was born.  The varnish was oil of rosemary and dragon's blood.  He said it took 3 years to dry.

on we go,

Joe

I use just a bit to dilute the varnish, with other solvents.

 

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21 hours ago, JacksonMaberry said:

Diamond G was a revelation to me - thanks to Joe for making it known. Gamsol or Stoddard Solvent grades of petroleum distillate are good too. Food grade d-limonene is my absolute favorite, with the addition of a little a-turpineol and cold pressed spike oil. The brushability can't be beat, as far as how I like to work. Basically whatever non polar solvent you choose, get the highest grade stuff you can find 

Which brings me to ask what the heck IS limonene? I have used it as a cleaner but never really thought of it as a solvent. Also it seems to mix with water at least to some degree. I have also used something called “orange oil” which seemed like a milder version of limonene. I am sure the complete chemistry is beyond me but the junior high version would be appreciated especially what it can be mixed with.

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40 minutes ago, nathan slobodkin said:

Which brings me to ask what the heck IS limonene? I have used it as a cleaner but never really thought of it as a solvent. Also it seems to mix with water at least to some degree. I have also used something called “orange oil” which seemed like a milder version of limonene. I am sure the complete chemistry is beyond me but the junior high version would be appreciated especially what it can be mixed with.

D-limonene is a cyclic monoterpine with the formula C10H16. Turpentine, which is a mix of hydrocarbon terpines, is chiefly a-pinene, which also has the formula C10H16 but in a very different arrangement. Nevertheless, the physical properties of the chemicals are very similar, though not identical. Both are terpines, both are alkenes, both are hydrocarbons, both are non-polar. 

 

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2 minutes ago, JacksonMaberry said:

D-limonene is a cyclic monoterpine with the formula C10H16. Turpentine, which is a mix of hydrocarbon terpines, is chiefly a-pinene, which also has the formula C10H16 but in a very different arrangement. Nevertheless, the physical of the chemicals are very similar, though not identical. Both are terpines, both are alkenes, both are hydrocarbons, both are non-polar. 

 

 

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18 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

I thought it left a residue. Do you want me to check?

Sure.  If you mean actually testing it, it would be nice to compare evaporation rates to some other things like mineral spirits, turpentine, d-limonene.

I was considering trying to distil my batch of lavender oil and see if I can de-sludge it and maybe fine-tune the evaporation rate.

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2 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Sure.  If you mean actually testing it, it would be nice to compare evaporation rates to some other things like mineral spirits, turpentine, d-limonene.

I was considering trying to distil my batch of lavender oil and see if I can de-sludge it and maybe fine-tune the evaporation rate.

I put some on a slide last night and it almost evaporated clean, but there is a very thin film revealed by touching. I will wait another 24 hrs. The ambient temp is about 72F.

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Thanks for all the replies. I can see there quite a range of different things people are using. While I have tried spike oil, I had not considered rosemary oil before.

One of the reasons I was asking about alternatives, is the trouble with availability of some things in my country, while mineral spirits is very easy to obtain. Thanks to Jim Bress for pointing out there are different grades.

I can get Diamond G turpentine here, but only from health shops in 1oz bottles, which are frightfully expensive for the small amount.

D-limonene I’d never heard of, so will investigate if it’s possible to get here.

Thank you!

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5 hours ago, uncle duke said:

I bet all of our varnish formulations are just as different too.  

What are you using for a varnish?

Colophony cooked down, and linseed oil (previously washed in jars). As it cools, it becomes very thick, which makes it very hard to apply.

When I come to use it, I am then adding turpentine to change the consistency to something I can work with.

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On 7/18/2021 at 4:43 PM, joerobson said:

I am a turpentine fan.   However most commercial turpentine is trash.  Try the turpentine from Diamond G Forest Products.

on we go,

Joe

So am I, fortunately Scandinavian (Finnish) manufacturars knows the differance. I'v heard that EU wants to ban Tar, which is one of the most awesome wood preservation substance to date!

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12 hours ago, Peter K-G said:

So am I, fortunately Scandinavian (Finnish) manufacturars knows the differance. I'v heard that EU wants to ban Tar, which is one of the most awesome wood preservation substance to date!

Fortunately tar is not a component of the turpentine if properly made.  There are some good Scandinavian boat finishes that may suffer...though I admit to being out of touch with that market.

on we go,

Joe

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On 7/19/2021 at 11:20 AM, JacksonMaberry said:

 

 

On 7/19/2021 at 11:17 AM, JacksonMaberry said:

D-limonene is a cyclic monoterpine with the formula C10H16. Turpentine, which is a mix of hydrocarbon terpines, is chiefly a-pinene, which also has the formula C10H16 but in a very different arrangement. Nevertheless, the physical properties of the chemicals are very similar, though not identical. Both are terpines, both are alkenes, both are hydrocarbons, both are non-polar. 

 

Jackson,

You obviously went to a better junior high than I did. Thank you!

 

 

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