Silicone Life

Silicone is the bane of woodworkers.

Which is a real shame, as it is a superb lubricant for metal. Way back when, while demonstrating for Triton, silicone spray was the lubricant of choice for getting the components to absolutely glide. It wasn’t until a long time later that I discovered that it has an adverse affect on wood finishes.

It may not affect a basic finish, such as a bit of wax, but when you are moving into higher quality finishes, silicone is the enemy. It does not stay put. Use it in one part of the workshop, and it will spread. Apply it to a surface, and it will find ways down through and past the existing finish to get to the timber below. Once it has contaminated the raw timber, it is very difficult to remove, even for a professional finisher.

Silicone prevents finishes adhering to timber, it can soften finishes, and will prevent stains and oils from penetrating the wood.

I have seen photos in the past of a fine finish (french polish) and how it was affected, with some star like defects in the finish. I can’t find the photos again to show here unfortunately.

What has reminded me about all this was when using some silicone sealer earlier today around the bathroom, I found other surfaces in the bathroom (particularly the floor) becoming increasingly slippery, and with the distinctive feeling of silicone lubricant. This is rather surprising, given no aerosol version of silicone was used. Just goes to show what I have heard over the years about silicone was true – it only has to be in the vicinity to cause a degree of contamination.

It may be an excellent lubricant, but not in a woodworking shop.

Silicone is often used in (non fine woodworking) finishes, especially car polishes, but others as well. Before using any finish in your workshop, or on your projects, it is worth checking if there is any silicone in the list of contents.

The following articles all refer to the detrimental effects of silicone on wood finishes.

Fine Wood Furniture

Piano Technicians Guild

Ruff Furniture

Wood Finish Supply

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