While visiting Ohio in November, I left an old Model T steering wheel with Stutzmans to have a new, oak rim made with hand grips in a larger grip diameter than the original black one had. They exceeded my expectations and there is only two finger joints. I am not a wood working type guy and have a question. What would be the best finish to put on the oak, that will resist moisture and the crud that could get on my hands? It does not have to be shiny, but long lasting.
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
If the wheel is in an open car you definitely will have to use a finish with UV protection in it, and I would seriously consider using a UV outdoor type finish in a closed car. Sunlight will even deteriorate a UV resistant finish over time so keep an eye on it, and refinish before it ever gets bad.
An oil base finish will turn the oak to a golden or amber color. An acrylic finish (water based) will go on the oak with out as much color change, it is supposed to be water clear, but there will be some color change, either one will make the grain pop and look much better. Which you use is up to your preferences. I also would stick to gloss finish. you can always kill the plastic shine with steel wool or a scotchbrite pad, and bring it back to a nice luster with paste wax. The satin finishes can get murky with multiple coats due to the flattening agent in the finish
If it were mine I would use the acrylic. It can be recoated in less than an hour, has almost no odor to fill up the house or shop, and is an easy water clean up. I would put on 2 or 3 coats, and fine sand / steel wool / scotchbrite pad it smooth. More coats are up to you. Acrylic finishes are much tougher than you will expect. I refinished the kitchen cabinets with acrylic 3 years ago with a total of 7 coats, and with a quick wipe down with a damp rag they look like new.
Tom Pictures please show everyone what it looks like.
I am not real good at posting pictures on the forum but will give it a shot.
RE: satin varnish gets murky with multiple coats
Satin should be applied only as a final coat. Gloss should be applied for all underlying coats. That is how to avoid murkiness
I have a walnut steering wheel that was refinished with Tung Oil. It is really nice to see. Also the more you handle it, the better the finish becomes.
Like John said, Tung Oil is a good finish. It will take several coats to make it durable. Spar Varnish would be my choice if you want to give it a varnish type of coating. Spar is very UV proof and is good for under water applications on wood boats. Use the gloss for all the first coats and then final top coat with satin if that is the look you want instead of gloss. I would also get a few scrap pieces of oak like your wheel is made of and do some testing first.
I used spray shellac on the steering wheel of my touring just to see how it would hold up. The finish is still in good condition after 4 years.
I would use a little early American wood stain to give it a little color. Then I would take it to a body shop and have them spray some Catalyzed clear
enamel on it.
I did the steering wheel on my 11 touring car 22
years ago the same way, but with black Catalyzed
enamel. There is no sign of any wear.
OK, my wheel has been stained and coated with 4 coats of urethane. I am not a wood guys as stated before. Before I put this wheel in service, do I need to put something like paste wax on? Also, it is a little rough, like maybe ultra small pieces of debris that might have dried in the finish. Is there a good way to smooth this out without messing up the semi gloss appearance?
Varnish should be buffed with 0000 steel wool between coats to obtain a smooth shiny finish. Apply one coat of varnish, buff with 0000 steel wool, wipe the finish with a tack cloth, repeat until desired number of coats are completed. You should be able to take some of the rough feel out by buffing with 0000 steel wool and then applying a good furniture paste wax.
Thanks Dennis. I sanded between coats with 320 sandpaper and wiped with tack cloth. The roughness is not bad but I want it smoother. I will try the stool wool and wax.
The 0000 steel wool should work well to remove any "bumps." Then if you want to finish the job using something a bit less aggressive, use some brown paper from a paper sack (remember those? ). Use it like sandpaper, and it will leave a nice luster.
I did this with oil stain applied with a clean rag and about seven layers of marine varnish applied with disposable foam brushes, lightly sanded between coats with 320 paper.
It came out okay, but it's not flawlessó mostly because the know-nothing newbie had to learn the hard way not to wear a ring or a watch with a metal band while driving.
Why bother! They are black, period.
My bride is from the Louisville area, and still has family there, so I know firsthand what kind of humidity you're needing to deal with... I do a lot of wood crafting with all kinds of wood materials. I would suggest a stain without any sealer. MinWax has a good variety and selection. I like to wipe the stain down (vinyl gloves?) with a rag or shop towel to make sure it has been evenly applied. Once that is completely dry (24 hours?), a medium/light layer of (MinWax) 'Helmsman Spar-Urethane' (Gloss) is applied, and again allowed to dry. Using some '000' steel wool, 'sand' with the grain over the entire piece. You will be able to feel any roughness from wood fibers that 'stand up' from the sealer that was applied. Pay attention (i.e. steel wool) to those rougher areas. Once smoothed to your satisfaction, that same Helmsman whether gloss or satin finish can be applied. Repeat coats can be applied within a few hours or after 72 hours. Aerosol cans of the sealers are usually about $6 at WalMart. One of my project photos is included. Hope this helps you.
Just to add, I've primarily used the spar-urethane for interior projects, but it seems to also work outside, as is claimed on the can. The UV protection is excellent, although with time, there will be some 'amber' tint to the finish.