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Boiled Linseed Oil


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Did a skim of MSDS sheets for "Japan Drier". As it turns out it's a generic name for an additive to make hardening oil paints dry more quickly and there are a LOT of them. 

Seems the more consistent ingredient is "naptha," and often a metal, "cobalt" being common. 97% naptha 3% cobalt is the only ratio I noted in the limited time I've been skimming. 

Read the can and use appropriate PPE.

Frosty The Lucky.

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On 9/17/2018 at 8:03 PM, Frosty said:

it's a generic name for an additive to make hardening oil paints dry more quickly

that's exactly what it is. And it does a great job with BLO.

The only "brand" I've used came from either a hardware store or paint store. It was called just that,, japan dryer.

And it evaporates from your container very rapidly, so use a narrow opening on your container amd keep the lid on. 

I don't think it will do any good in the hot finish because it will be gone by the time you wipe it on.

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  • 4 months later...

Boiled Linseed Oil(BLO) doesn't dry by evaporation, unless some thinner is added before use.  It oxidizes to a soft finish over a period of days.  I've used it for furniture wood health for decades, since woods take it into their pores somewhat, keeping the woods from drying out.

I can understand why it works to inhibit rust, as it not only seals a steel surface, it probably takes any oxygen out of the steel's surface "pores".  But I've found that BLO softens significantly when heated over 90 or so degrees F.  

Sorry if I'm repeating what others might have already said.  Just my 2-cents.

I've also used rags like cheesecloth dampened with BlO, left for a couple of hours in the open air to get sticky, then bagged them in ziplock bags to stop the oxidation process.  They make great "tack rags", for removing dust from everything.  Putting them back in the recloseable bags keeps them sticky for years.

I never use any petroleum-based oils(like 3 in 1 oil) to coat any metals.  They all contain enough sulfur to promote rapid rust on steel surfaces left in the open air.

And lastly, of course, I never leave any rags, or other porous materials that have been soaked with BLO in enclosed room-sized spaces.  The oxidation process of curing BLO to a hard surface is exothermic, having caused building fires historically.  There isn't enough surface area on any hardwood furniture I've coated with BLO for it to cause a fire problem.

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Light mineral oil will works for a workshop tool, but I wouldn't use it for finishing a nice sculpture. For that a mixture of eucalyptus oil and beeswax would be preferable ... with a touch of mint perhaps :)

For the workshop anvil an alternative would be mixing beeswax with olive oil and a dose of kaffir lime leaves. :P

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2 hours ago, pnut said:

I didn't know.  Someone mentioned plant oils like soybean getting rancid. I knew mineral oil doesn't  get rancid.  Good to know though. 

All organic oil can become rancid. Rancid is a colloquial term to describe the reaction with oxygen in the presence of light, temperature moisture and bacteria to different degrees. 

The reaction between oxygen and the double carbon bonds in the molecule of oil eventually leads to polymerization and the oil becomes a solid. As such the oil will produce a film and voila, you have made paint. 

Clearly if you want to paint your anvil, you are much better off buying a proprietary product rather than attempting to use a home made one. Paint manufacture has come a long way and there is a large variety of choices. Why is it ok to rub your anvil with magic juices yet paint your car is the norm, I don't understand. I promise to try to rub a rusty car with olive oil and see what happens in the long term. Promise ! :) 

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Epoxy is good particularly if it is two part. I use a lot of epoxy two pack primer for painting hot dip galvanised steel. Bulletproof and the paint of choice for exposed steel buildings. Made a steel structure over salt water some 5 years ago and it looks the same as the first day. 

Painting your anvil with two pack epoxy would be of course overkill of the nth degree unless you have the nasty habit of leaving your anvil in the weather. An even then, you can only paint the sides.

Nothing wrong with ordinary oil based paint for your anvil. Refflinghaus paints his anvils, and so do many other manufacturers. They surely don't use linseed oil or olive oil beeswax or beef drippings. Matter of fact i have a couple of Australia made farrier anvils that came painted from the foundry in a nice old fashioned red oxide primer. 

Of course one can use anything really. I try shoe polish next time I remember :) 

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I lost site were were talking about painting an anvil.. :) 

I like Rustoleum in the oil based version and use it for nearly everything I paint and has to live outside.. 

it can be sprayed, brushed or rollered.. Reasonably priced and it lasts fairly long..   

The only thing I don't like about it, is it's a mold hog..   Any mold in the air will stick to it, well like paint..   

I have to wash the trailer 3 or 4 times a year to remove the black like spores and this is the same on wood work.. veritical or horizontal.. 

If using the black color it won't matter..  

The sides of the anvil and bottom works great..   welding Flux is an acid  so on the anvil stand the combination of welding flux, and water to cool off the anvil and the scale falling on it, the paint lasted 2 seasons and now it's time for a repaint.. The lower part of the stand is good, but the area the scale, flux and water hit is garbage.. 

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Interesting that Rust-oleum attracts mold. It is a paint manufacturer so I suppose it depends which one of their paints you use. For specialised paints we have Hammerite and POR-15 both allegedly very good and very expensive. I have seen Rust-oleum branded pressure cans now that I think of it. 

In your case I would apply a coat of mold killer that contains Benzalkonium chloride, the sort of stuff you apply to metal roofing to kill lichen. Not particularly bad for humans either ... well unless you drink a pint I suppose. 

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  • 1 month later...

Hi all,

I'm about to forge some accessories for my new bathroom (towel ring, toilet roll holder, etc).

Is Boiled Linseed Oil the best stuff to use to protect it?

I'm obviously concerned about rust in the bathroom environment! (might turn out to be a terrible idea long term..)

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I personally would not use Linseed oil in this case.. I'd use a mat or egg shell or flat black paint and apply it as recommended..Powder coating works pretty good..   Wet towels can play havoc with the metal and linseed oil.. 

Latches and such the linseed oil would be fine as well as on cabinet hardware.. 

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Do you want the black scale on it for the hand forged look? (and don't forget electropolishing...)

I did an eating set 25 years ago and did nothing but use a clean abrasive belt(s) on it no rust problems yet and a lot of hard use.

(440C for the knife and 416? for the spoon and fork.)

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From experience and most I have read and used with stainless is .


The outer scale portion does offer some protection against rusting just like steel mill or forge scale....  the problem is carbon migration and scale surface cracks..


These are small cracks which water can then get into and since it will bind with  the carbon/iron it will rust..


Ideally it's why stainless steels need to be polished or passivated to expose the chromium which will then resist rusting.. there is a process where the stainless can be given a chemical treatment once cleaned polished that will change the color black...

A stainless item used daily with handling and such will polish it some with each use..

Again the problem comes with a wet object resting against it with no rubbing as the rubbing also acts as a polishing effect and exposing the chromium to the surface..


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