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.
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.
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.
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.