This winter's camera restoration project is a doozy. I am restoring a Folmer Schwing 8x20 camera.... and I'm building a replica. That's right, double trouble!
I purchased the very well used F+S on Ebay last year and took it apart. While apart I had a friend of mine duplicate all the wooden pieces in mahogany. He did a great job. All the metal pieces are now at a metalworker's shop being duplicated as well. I hope to have them back soon.
I am now ready to refinish the wood of the old camera and finish the new pieces. They are all sanded and ready to go.
I will be finishing one with shellac simply because I like it. I refinished a Kodak 2D with shellac and it is absolutely gorgeous.
For the other camera however, I thought I would try something different, perhaps Tung (Danish) Oil...or maybe lacquer....or maybe spar varnish....
It's hard to go wrong with any of those. My favourite way of finishing is also Shellac. It is much better that anything I've seen at showing the beauty of the wood. Other finishes don't seem to bring the best of the grain. Generally the orange Shellac also gives the wood an antique weathered look that I really like.
Originally Posted by Craig Koshyk
I do like to put a coat of wax on top of the finish to give the texture a warmer, smoother feeling to the touch.
I have used Tried and True varnish oil which I love. This is truly the old kind of oil. It is prepolimeryzed linseed, just boiled. No other ingredients are used. You may find these at leevalley.com
If it were mine I would coat the wood with two coats of clear non-blush marine epoxy, and then finish with two layers of clear polyurethane. This will give you a super-hard finish that should last for decades.
Originally Posted by Craig Koshyk
If you want a durable, beautiful, hand rubbed finish, try Danish oil. Shellac is nice, but it is soft and doesn't like moisture. A hand done oil finish is something to see, but it takes time. Here's the procedure, if you want to try a sample block of wood to find out if you like it. Use a hard rubber block for all flat surfaces, a soft foam block for all curved surfaces).
First coat is the "mud" coat. With 220 wet or dry paper (black, automotive type for wet sanding), use oil and work up a good "slurry" of oil and wood fibers on the part. You must use enough oil and elbow grease to make a soft paste. This is the coat which fills the pores, so make it thick enough to stand on the wood until dry. Don't wipe it off and let it dry completely (water heater closet or furnace room in winter).
Second pass is to knock down the surface you worked so hard on the first time (320 w/d). Use enough oil to "cut" the old finish down and level the parts off. Any small spots or dull areas are old oil and wood, take them off completely so the surface is uniform, smooth and shiny. Wipe this second coat off and put part(s) up to dry again.
Once dry, do another pass with 400 and oil. The idea behind this masochism is to progressively sand down the wood's surface to a finer and finer sheen, like an automotive finish done with progressively finer polishing compound. Wipe and dry (completely dry).
Now do the whole thing again with 600 and oil. You should have a surface in which you cannot see any open pores or scratches with the naked eye..Wipe excess oil and dry as usual.
Final coat is a very light coat applied with the hand. Here you want just enough oil to fill the invisible scratches from the 600 and give a sheen to the wood. It will not be a mirror finish, but it will be "in the wood" and should be a deep, even, smooth luster, unlike anything you have seen. Dry.
This is a fine finish, but it takes time and requires a lot of work to do well. It is surprisingly simple and quick once mastered, but don't be in a hurry. Shellac sits on the surface. Danish oil impregnates the wood fibers with a watery varnish penetrating action and seals out moisture by giving the water no place to enter the surface.
I second what Tim has suggested with the Danish Oil. It is a very nice finish. Also, as time goes by you can rub a coat on periodically to revitalize the finish.
Shellac out of the can in a proprietary formula is not all that hot. It is soft and has a definite shelf life, It is not moisture friendly. If you still want to use shellac I would make up my own from scratch using shellac flakes and a good quality spirits to go along with the flakes. Behlans out of NY sells these items and other high quality finishes as well. I would stay out of the home centers and hardware stores and spen the extra money on quality materials. If I were to use shellac I would French Polish in lieu of brushing.
"EVERY film and paper is good .......... for something"
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I have finished a couple in which I sprayed lacquer. The finish was incredibly smooth and the result was pleasing. I have also refinished a 12X20 that I coated with Polyurethane. I second Sandy King's guidance on this. Polyurethane is the way that I will go in the future.
Since you used mahogany you might look at Teak Oil as it is used for mahogany & dark wood finishes. Look beautiful. It can be followed by Tung Oil if you want for a stunning finish from high gloss to lustre. It is easy to touch up later when the dings hit the wood. It is not as touchy as many lacquers or shellacs & allows the wood finish to show beautifully.
My personal favorite is a mixture of 1/3 Boiled linseed Oil, 1/3 Spar Varnish and 1/3 Polyurothane. Fine sand down to 400 then put a heavy coat on. Sand while wet with 400 wet and dry. Let dry a day. Then put another coat on and sand with 600 wet and dry. Let dry a couple days. Finally put the last coat on and burnish with 000 steel wool. Let dry a couple of days then wax with a hard canuba wax. Buff it out.
tim in san jose
Where ever you are, there you be.
Thanks for the great suggestions/advice. I am leaning towards a more luddite type of finish to suit my luddite tendencies..."Tried and True" looks like it might get the nod.
Now, here's another wrinkle....
The older camera is sanded and ready to refinish. It has a beautiful warm colour. I intend to finish it with shellac without staining it beforehand. The colour looks just right as is.
The replica pieces are of course brand new and look like, well, brand new mahogany, relatively light in colour with a nice grain.
So the question is this: Stain? or no stain?
It is my understanding that in some circles, staining certain woods (cherry for instance) amounts to commiting a mortal sin.....not good for the Karma as it were.
Do I dare stain and thus risk damnation and/or returning in the next life as a dung beetle?
If I do stain, what do you suggest for colour and brand/type?
I am not against staining of all woods, but staining cherry will condemn you to the status of dung beetle among the living in my world. It is a very beautiful wood that develps to a lovely natural color with age. If you stain it you will probably find it too dark for your taste after 5-10 years.
Originally Posted by Craig Koshyk