Linseed is a good choice in the restoration of
old tools, gunstocks and other old wood items . . . IF you DO NOT use modern
commercial "Boiled" Linseed Oil.
The problem is in the way the material is now processed. Linseed is
in a category called fixed or non-drying oils. Boiling is a method
traditionally involving heat and litharge to speed the oxidizing qualities
of the oil (drying). Today "boiled" linseed is processed by the
introduction of a heavy slug of petrochemical driers which simulates the
changes the properties of the oil in the process. Hence
it darkens too much with age, pulls back to the surface and gets gummy, etc.
However, raw linseed oil will never dry. What is a fellow to do?
Boiling your own is not an impossible task.
To boil linseed oil: First buy raw linseed oil.
Sneak the crock pot out of the kitchen. Set it outdoors (there is a stink
and considerable fire hazard). Fill the pot with the raw linseed oil, place
the lid on top, turn temperature to high, let cook at least 24 hours. Cool.
Decant to a tightly stoppered container.
It will be slower oxidizing than
litharge-boiled oil, but far superior to commercial boiled. Litharge can no
longer be used as it is a liquid form of lead and unavailable.
And, once you have your private supply of
home-boiled linseed oil, you might want to try this recipe. It travels under
many names – I call it Alburnum's Elixir.
- 1 part home-boiled linseed oil.
- 1 part genuine turpentine (mineral spirits is NOT a
- 1 part ordinary household vinegar (either distilled or
cider from the grocery store).
All three of these ingredients are plant or
tree derivatives – things natural to wood – that's why they work well on
wood. Our ancestors figured out that when you keep things compatible it all
works together – and works well. Wood stuff on wood works!
Too often these days when I mention Turpentine,
someone of the younger generation will answer, "Yes, I use that, I use
Mineral Spirits". These are two are totally different materials – Mineral
Spirits is a petroleum derivative and is of no benefit to, nor is it
compatible with wood.
Though there may seem to be temporary improvement,
since petrochemicals have nothing the wood can use, results are temporary. Turpentine comes from trees – it is natural to wood – its benefits are many
and long lasting. You will see the wood get better and better over time.
Though the inexpensive vinegars (distilled and
apple cider) that you find in grocery stores today are far removed from the
natural apple cider vinegar with the "mother" in it that Grandma used to
make, any of them accomplish what is needed for this recipe.
After you have combined the three ingredients,
shake well. You will probably need to shake occasionally while using. For
long term storage I prefer glass because I know glass works. (I don't trust
solutions that have twisted their plastic container out of shape – how has
the plastic altered the solution?)
I think that once you begin using your
Alburnum's Elixir you will have a lot more room on your workbench. It will
take the place of many of the modern concoctions that you’ve accumulated but
don’t really work as well.
I have spent years studying the old ways of
working with wood. Based on what I found there I have formulated my product,
Kramer’s Best Antique Improver. My product works like the Alburnum’s, but,
due to the 14 ingredients I use, it covers a broader spectrum, has even more
uses and is more effective over the long term.
Some of my customers refer to my product as
“magic”. But there’s no sorcery to it. Our ancestors, after hundreds of
years of trial and error, working with the simple ingredients available to
them, and observing results over the long term, figured out what works.
various reasons – some of which may be valid and necessary – our generation
is abandoning that knowledge. That may be OK in some areas of our our modern
fast-paced, plastic-coated way of life; but when we put our hearts, time and
effort into restoring beauty and function back into those valued old tools
and other possessions of our ancestors, we would do well to listen to that
knowledge they passed to us, preserve it, and pass it on to future