What Finish Works Best on Pitchy Wood?
Issue: Issue 295
Posted Date: 2/21/2012
I have some 4 x 12s that are over 100 years old. In cutting them into lumber, I found some of them are very pitchy throughout (not in pockets). How can these be made to take a finish of any kind even paint? - Duane Leary
Chris Marshall: If those pitchy areas are at all soft and "oozy," the resins could still cause problems for you in the long run and bleed through a finish or leave soft telltale signs under paint. I'd be inclined to save those boards for other projects than fine furniture, just to play it safe. Still, it sounds like you have some cool wood. I had the opportunity to build a bench from first-growth reclaimed sinker cypress years ago, and to build a few projects from wormy American chestnut. It's a pleasure to use wood with such age and character. Enjoy yours!
Tim Inman: First growth wood, like yours probably is, can be full of oils and resins. They are very difficult to finish as fine furniture wood. Washing down with an oil solvent like mineral spirits or VM & P naphtha prior to finishing is one helpful approach. An oil type finish will work better than a drying film like lacquer or shellac. Enjoy the wood for what it is.