Soap Soup

Hey Folks,

Today I finished up the white oak staked leg table.  And by finish, I mean with a soupy mixture of pure white soap flakes in hot water.  I’d heard of a soap finish from my grandmother and have often wanted to try it.  She was a homestead girl, and literally grew up in a log cabin.  Their family table had a soap finish.

I have also heard it called a Scandinavian soap finish, probably because they are the only people who still use it.  I got this recipe from Christopher Schwarz’, Anarchist Design Book.

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It’s applied with a rag, and it’s about the consistency of mayonnaise.  It soaks in a bit, then starts to harden up.  After it hardened, I buffed it off with a dry rag.

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The next day, I sanded it with 320 grit, and applied some more soap.  This time it was a bit stiffer, having hardened up overnight.  After about an hour, I buffed it off with a dry rag, and it left a nice soft luster, sort of like a soft wax.

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I like this finish, and I think that I’ll use it on another table some day.  It has a very practical and simple feel to it.  It’s easily renewable, and in fact, it needs to be maintained with a buffing of new soap now and then.  So the table comes with a package of soap flakes and some instructions for the buyer.

I’ve put it in the shop window, but I don’t have a picture yet.  Maybe tomorrow.

Cheers,
Tom

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