It’s been a long time since my first post on my Ashford Kiwi (here: https://ilovesocks.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/the-ashford-kiwi/). I have since learned to spin much better yarn, had much fun mixing colors, and even spinning funky yarn. Here’s one example, some home spun socks, and I put green coils in some of this yarn so that when I knit it would come out looking like these caterpillars. I added some butterflies after making this yarn a scarf. (I haven’t blocked this yet, the edges will probably look straighter after that. This is another chevron scarf following this easy pattern – domesticrafts)
Back on topic – finishing my wheel! I have stained and varnished things before, but never once have I done it RIGHT. I always just painted things with random stuff and ended up with something scratchy feeling with odd lumps of varnish on it, so I hesitated all of these years. In a way, that was a good thing. This project wound up taking about 2 weeks in all, so if I had done it when I first got the wheel, I would have gone crazy having to wait so long to use it! But now, after all of those years of spinning, this is how my unfinished Ashford Kiwi looked:
As you can see, you don’t really see the wood grain, its just flat and pale, but by far the worst looking thing is all of the lubricating oil which seeped up and down the pedals and footmen. The wood looked so very thirsty, I decided to give it, and all of these other spinning accessories some love! I wrote to Ashford and asked if any of this was going to be possible in this condition, and the answer was yes. I just had to use sandpaper to sand off all of the oil down to clean wood. (If you do this, be sure to only go up and down with the grain, I went in circles with the rougher sand paper and a little of that showed later.) So began this learning adventure in woodworking.
Ashford recommends a paste wax. I have waxed a floor before and it came out looking about the same as before and not very shiny. So, I don’t know, the wax may be wonderful, but I wasn’t excited about that idea. They had said in the past that danish oil was fine, but a negative about it is that it would cause dirt from feet to collect on the pedals and stain them. I figured at this point I’d just try to spin in clean socks.
First application: (Best done outside, on a warm day with no pollen flying around.) I decided to use Danish Oil. In the beginning of this project, I was still looking for easy and fast and didn’t want to have to do a bunch of sanding beyond the amount needed to clean the wheel up, and it looked like Danish Oil would allow a quick application without needing sanding afterward, or to be reapplied after years. (I am no longer sure if it’s true about not reapplying. I’m getting all of this from the great wisdom of the internet – so there is a lot of disagreement about just about everything.) So, I sanded with a coarse sandpaper, then 220 grit, and had disassembled only to this point pictured. Then I applied the Danish oil in “medium walnut” with a paintbrush. The oil will collect in the carved kiwi bird, so be sure to hold it sideways and pour it out of him right after applying and wipe off. After waiting a few minutes as the can instructed, I wiped the oil off with a cotton rag and allowed to dry.
I LOVED the color, but as you can see, it was completely devoid of shine (this is a flash photo and you can see no light bounce-back from any of the pieces at all, only a window reflection on the floor). The great and wise internet said that if you do coat after coat of danish oil, it will eventually get shine, but I do not know if this is true. I did only one coat and didn’t really want to do any more.
I like that it absorbs into the wood, the particle board wheel just drank it right up. Because the parts are different wood types, I expected them to come out different colors, and they are, but it doesn’t look bad at all.
So I read up some more and found that if I wanted shine, I could then coat after danish oil with a clear, oil based polyurethane (I chose semi-gloss). There is much disagreement about whether one should do this over danish oil on the great wise internet, it seemed to be about 50/50 yes and no. The no’s basically said that it wasn’t necessary, so since they had no other negative points, I went ahead, because by this time I had learned that the danish oil may or may not dry out and need reapplying. So, not only did I want more shine, I wanted to seal the oil in and be done for good. Time and future posts will tell how this wheel holds up.
I had to wait until the danish oil dried before applying the polyurethane, and while it was essentially dry after a couple of hours, it SMELLED of what I guess is linseed oil for about 10 days. The dissipation of the smell is supposed to indicate complete dryness, so they say. (You will want a dry place to allow it to sit for days away from where you or anyone else has to sleep.)
Waiting and sanding: I waited about 2 weeks (which I had to do anyway because it took that long before the weather got warm and dry enough). In the days after drying and before I planned to do the polyurethane, I sanded any little nubs off of everything with 220 sandpaper where necessary, and with finer 600 black sandpaper afterward for complete smoothness. I then wiped all the sawdust off with a damp cotton cloth (cut up old t-shirt) and let dry.
The day of the final staining: I tried applying the polyurethane with a brush, but this made little bubbles rise up on the wood, and I didn’t want any extra bumps, so I put it on with the brush, then wiped smooth with a small cotton rag (gloves necessary). I let it dry, re-sanded with the 600 sandpaper (which really wasn’t much sanding at all, just a few swipes here and there), then wiped the sawdust off with a slightly damp rag and let the dampness dry a few minutes. I reapplied another coat of polyurethane the same way with the rag and let dry. Then, a final quick swipe with the 600 sandpaper to make sure everything was super smooth.
I LOVE IT! It is so beautiful and shiny and smooth, I can’t even believe I made that happen myself! (Every time I’m near it I pet it and admire its beauty!) This is the finished lazy kate – so shiny! The wood grain shows up, and those white stripes going vertical in this photo actually move like the shine inside a tiger eye stone when you move it back and forth in the light. I find it kind of amazing.
This closeup of the bobbin assembly shows the shine and the grain in the wood. (I did not finish inside the edges of the bobbin or the edges of the wheel to prevent the fishing line and drive band from slipping on the smooth surface.)
I love my kiwi, and I’m happy it is now not only more beautiful, but protected.
Note: Do read the warnings on the cans. Both danish oil and polyurethane have nasty vapors and could start fires if you aren’t careful. Just follow what it says on the can and it’ll all be alright.