Fat over Lean

Not only my preference for meat [apologies to my vegetarian friends] but also my preferred method of applying linseed oil.  This tradition dates back centuries and the Old Masters would follow this rule while oil painting.

The basic rule is using a ‘lean’ oil first.  Lean oil is linseed oil that has been thinned with turpentine [Moses T’s Reviver is my most lean oil, followed by Moses T’s St. John’s Oil].  After this has dried [at least 24 hours] then a ‘fat’ oil [Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish is a fat oil finish] is applied.

The reason for this is because a fat oil will adhere better to a lean oil rather than vice-versa.  This has to do with the available bonding sites and some other alchemy, but it works and has been a standard for several hundred years.

So when applying linseed oil as a finish or to pop the grain of the wood, thin it with turpentine for the first coat, then it can be used undiluted for the successive coats.


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