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How to Apply a Linseed Oil Finish on Metal



The sprayer Kevin is using to apply the linseed oil to a new sculpture is a high-volume, low-pressure spray gun. Instead of having the big metal can on the bottom where the liquid is siphoned up into the gun, this applicator has its container on the top so the liquid feeds down. That lets you get everything out of the cannister instead of having that last little stubborn dribble left.

At the bottom of the spray gun handle is a connection for the air compressor. A nearby knob controls the pressure, while a knob at the back of the upper part of the gun controls how far the trigger moves and therefore how much material you release.

There's another knob he's not sure about. He thinks it's what controls the air coming out of the nozzle to create a fan that can be aimed different ways for varying the coverage for different applications. Because he's just trying to coat railroad spikes, he wants more of a stream than a wide spray. He'll also restrict the amount of oil released to avoid runs.

Kevin puts on his respirator and safety glasses safety equipment and plays with the mystery control. It does control the fan shape - flat for spraying up and down, or sideways for side to side to cover more area.

Next, Kevin begins spraying the linseed oil on the sculpture, which takes about 15 minutes. "This little gun works pretty good," he says, about the Harbor Freight tool.

Now it's time to heat the oil to help it seal and cure onto the metal. He intended to use a rosebud fitting on his oxygen-acetylene unit, but he's out of acetylene, so he got out a weed burner, which is used to clear irrigation ditches.

Kevin lights the weed burner with his propane torch, then secures the torch and sets it away from the area where he is burning. He begins applying the heat to the sculpture, saying, "You don't want too much of a flame."

Although he has the flame turned down, the burner's large head can heat a lot more area at the same time. He can heat two spikes at once, making the weed burner a better choice for this job than the rosebud tip, as long as you don't turn up the heat too high.

The process is going to take 20 - 40 minutes, so Kevin signs off.


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