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Too much mineral oil? (& Opinel forced patina)

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Darkera, Jan 6, 2017.

  1. Darkera


    Oct 22, 2016
    I used to have an Opinel but gave it away about 10 years ago. I was looking at some of the forced patinas recently and picked up an Opinel #8 yesterday to try it out. After successive mustard applications I am very happy with the results... unfortunately, I washed the blade under the tap twice and within a short period it was almost impossible to open!

    I put it in a vacuum desiccator for half the day and that seemed to get rid of most of the water. I just put the knife (minus locking ring) back in the vacuum desiccator but this time immersed in mineral oil. It's bubbling away and filling with oil, with my goal being to impregnate the handle and problem area with mineral oil.

    It's too late, but I am getting cold feet now - can this cause the handle to swell and will the knife forever be exuding oil and leaving the hand greasy? I usually just rub my other knives with oil, never submerge them.

    Last edited: Jan 6, 2017
  2. Jens Schuetz

    Jens Schuetz

    Jun 24, 2013
    Could have used linseed oil. It soaks in nicely and polymerizes/hardens inside the wood within a couple of weeks.
    Mineral oil will stay liquid. I'd try to warm it to accelerate the excretion of excess min oil and then apply tung oil which also hardens and should lock in the min oil but on top of that also adds water resistance. Why messing with linseed / flax oil then? It's cheaper than tung.

    You could also used boiled linseed which polymerizes faster due to not very healthy chemical additives.

    Be warned that the cristalizing oils seep out a bit at the beginning and block the blade a bit. However after opening and closing it a few times the obstacle is gone.

    None of that stuff seemed to swell the wood. Though it made it much much heavier. (Measured it)
    kreisler likes this.
  3. Darkera


    Oct 22, 2016
    Thanks for the advice, I hadn't thought about tung oil for some reason and did want to varnish it. I'll look into getting some tung oil this weekend and applying several coats; hopefully it locks the mineral oil in and keeps the knife from swelling.


    kreisler, DB_Cruiser and RedneckBear like this.
  4. jackknife


    Oct 2, 2004
    Darkera, I bought a new Opinel number 8 last year and did the mineral oil soak and it's been fine. I used to do the linseed oil and then experimented with the melted wax method. I fond it didn't rally make much if any difference that I could tell. I soaked the new Opinel in a zip lock baggie with the mineral oil, and left it on a paper towel out in the shop for a few days. It's been very water resistant and I wash it off in the sink often.

    It's been fine. Very stable even under wet conditions.
  5. Jens Schuetz

    Jens Schuetz

    Jun 24, 2013
    Good to know Jackknife. My min oil oozes out when it gets warm. Though I'm sure it'll be less and less with every summer.
  6. davek14


    May 30, 2009
    I swear by the mineral oil soak although I've not used vacuum. I try to dry the knife and get it somewhat looser then toss into a jar of mineral oil a week open and a week closed. Sometimes I just forget it for a while.:rolleyes:

    Then I let it "dry" in a warm place for a while and wipe it off well. Never really had oozing problems, maybe minimal.

    Edited to add:

    I've modded the knife after this though, till lately. So it's had a coat or two of tung oil. Stain has some linseed oil in it generally as well.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  7. Jens Schuetz

    Jens Schuetz

    Jun 24, 2013
    I guess then I just worked in too much oil.
    I used to heat it in the microwave and then dropped in the knife. Once it was at room temperature, and that took a while, I put the whole jar into a freezer. Then I heated it again and so on. I also had it out in the sun for a few cycles.
    The thought was that maybe the different temperature cause the fibers to move differently against each other and the expanding and contracting sucks in the stuff and let's air escape. Also freezing the jar (closed) which was hot earlier should have created an underpressure and helped to suck out air. I might be wrong about the underlying mechanism, but every time when I took it from the freezer there was a circle of bubbles on the surface and right over the submerged knife. When I stopped seeing bubbles I stopped the process.
    The handle became 20+ percent! heavier than before.

    A proper study of the method should have included another identical knife simply in oil for the same time without any violent temperature changes.
    Anyways even that huge increase in weight didn't cause any blade pinching swelling, which is good! It's just oozing out oil now whenever it gets warm. Also, grinding in a finger groove let a lot of oil come out as well but also showed that the oil penetrated very deep though I can't say complete penetration since I didn't cut through the whole handle to check :-D

    The same method with flax oil oozed out too and cristalized on the surface, but for a much shorter time. Also no swelling there. Maybe with so much polymerized oil in it one could call it stabilized wood?

    The whole process seemed to work well with the light opinel wood. An iron wood handled knife however showed almost no weight increase at all!
  8. davek14


    May 30, 2009
    Neat stuff Jen.

    I wonder how a coat of polymerizing oil on the mineral oiled knife would do.
  9. Darkera


    Oct 22, 2016
    I couldn't appreciate the Opinel swelling issue until I witnessed it firsthand: it swelled to the point where it wouldn't open without knocking it after running the blade in water and wiping dry twice!

    I work in a lab so I decided to use the vacuum desiccator to remove almost all water and replace with mineral oil. I left it in the oil under vacuum since Friday and will probably not retrieve it until Monday morning, so it is going to be impregnated with the stuff! I can see it oozing oil because of this treatment. I will wipe it as dry as I can and try applying tung oil, although I wonder if a marine varnish would seal the oil better (i.e.: would the tung oil not polymerize because of contact with mineral oil?).

  10. jackknife


    Oct 2, 2004
    For many years my standard test for Opinels to see how each method works, has been total submergence for 30 minutes and still be functional. It doesn't seem to matter what oil I use, linseed, mineral, floor wax, Chapstick, petroleum jelly. It all seems to work. It seems like the Opinel benefits from any oil or grease saturated into the wood to slow down or prevent water from entering. I've used all of the above on different Opinels, and they all passed the 30 minute submerged test. Yeah, they got a little stiff but were still openable without the knock. Just grab blade and pull open. [​IMG]

    After 30 minutes and opened.

    Strangely, I've found that size is more of an influence than what oil/grease is used. The smaller Opinels seem more difficult to water proof than the larger number 8 and up. Weird.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  11. I think the makers of the polymerizing oils (boiled linseed oil, Danish Oil, etc) warn against applying them on woods that've been treated with anything else beforehand. In order to work well, the polymerizing oils need to be absorbed into the wood a bit, after which they can dry & cure and actually seal the wood. If it can't absorb into the wood, it often doesn't dry/cure properly, and leaves a gummy, sticky mess on the surface instead, which must be cleaned off. Oil-based sealers are kind of tricky that way. Even if attempting to retreat wood using the same product, the wood can only absorb so much, after which any additional treatments won't take hold, without first completely stripping away the old finish, which involves sanding to some depth, down to untreated wood.

    We have a wood bench in our courtyard, which was treated years ago with an oil-based sealer. It had become visibly weather-worn since then, with lots of exposure to the southwestern desert sun. We tried refinishing it with a similar product a couple summers ago, after sanding it down with some coarse-grit paper (80-120 grit). This last summer, that newly-applied finish just started peeling off of it, as it just wouldn't absorb correctly, and it looks pretty ugly.

    I sealed one of my Opinels (walnut handle) with Danish Oil, and it's instructions are pretty clear about not going beyond maybe 3-4 light coats (drying between each) before it becomes ineffective as a sealer and becomes messy & gummy. Only apply what the wood can take, and no more.

    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  12. Wowbagger


    Sep 20, 2015
    I think the obvious hasn’t been said here. Leave it to me to rain on the parade . . .:p :)

    But first : Darkera That is a Gorgeous job you did on the blade ! ! !
    You should be very proud. Heck I get excited when I am able to get my M4 to change color a little bit.

    Thanks for posting this. Hands down the best post of the day or several days.

    OK for those who don’t enjoy my brand of humor perhaps a bathroom or beer opening break is in order :
    Heavy . . . you like heavy . . . man have I got a knife for you . . . got to pick it open and it NEVER sticks closed.

    Tung oil soak . . . yah . . . about that . . . you guys probably already know about it . . . and I use tung oil but in thin layers all safely polymerized. Liquid tung oil . . . in my pocket all day or around food in the kitchen . . . nah dude, nah. Cobalt dryer. Not something you want to come into daily contact with.

    If you like heavy AND oil soaked and have the stellar skills needed to make a blade design like that . . . time to go with a different wood for your handle. I think.
    Probably take less time than all the cycling through the various oil conditioning environments. I am speaking of . . . none other than . . .
    Lignum vite wood. Already, naturally, very oily.

    Check it out. So heavy , dense, and full of oil it lays on the bottom of a container full of water. This little chunk, feels as heavy as a building brick.
    Super strong (make sure you get a sample free of shakes and you are good to go) and talk about beautiful : super dark brown with a green cast and lighter areas just to give it a little umpf visually.

    I made this mallet out of it for peat sake. And I wear this block around my neck every day. I don’t know why. They used to make sailing ship rigging pulleys out of it because it was the only thing that would hold up.

    And finally, and since I fight this seizing up solid thing in my beloved Opinels (too lazy to do any of this I / we have suggested) . . . you knew this was coming didn’t you ? ?

    You are going to LOVE the Gayle Bradley :
    • No finger guard to get in the way of PROPER EDC knife handling.
    • Zero blade seizing thanks to STABLE phoz bronze washers, THICK UMMPHF, UMMPHF steel liners and . . . wait for it . . . .carbon fiber (preeeeee polymer soaked and cured (boy is this stuff CURED) epoxy saturated handles (OK G10).
    • and it has that nice pocket brick heft . . . not up to the Buck 110 but you can’t have everything . . . you can always toss in a small hand gun to make up some of the ballast.
    • Takes a patina
    • Even has one of those funny blade locks everyone seems so obsessed with.

    Seriously though . . . I am in awe of the patina / design work.
    Really nice !
  13. banksy


    Oct 21, 2009
    And I thought the goldfish aquarium was weird.
  14. Beastchopper

    Beastchopper Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 23, 2018
    How the heck did you manage to get this clean looking patina design?
  15. Wowbagger


    Sep 20, 2015
    I think I gott'er nailed !
    I have held off posting for a week or so to test out two Opinels. One my newest #12 and the other my #6.
    I have carried both a lot lately and used them in the kitchen washing the blade well and even "accidentally" splashing / running water over the pivot area then drying them off and putting them in my pocket. You know . . . just like a real pocket knife.

    My Verdict :
    SUCCESS ! ! ! !
    No noticeable binding. I just take the knife out of my pocket a few minutes or a half hour later and . . .
    and . . .
    . . . open it easily.

    How did he attcheive this miracle you might ask ?
    I lit an old candle (the older the better . . . I don't know why) (or if the age matters; I just made that part up). Have a heat gun plugged in and standing by (or a hair drier).

    Once the wax melts and pools at the top of the candle tip it onto the end of the Opinel and into the slot where the pivot is. Once it solidifies go again a time or two on the end to build up a thick layer on the end grain of the knife handle at the pivot.

    Extinguish the candle and rev up the heat gun (on low) and melt the wax that is in the slot into the handle some what. Don't worry about what is on the end grain / don't focus on that.

    Let the knife cool completely.

    Open and close the knife and wipe off / brush off the wax chips that form.

    You may find that you now cannot turn the lock collar. Heat the collar just enough with the heat gun to be able to turn the collar. It will stay free turning after this. No reason to get it hotter than you can touch just warm it up some.

    Beats the heck out of submerging the whole knife in oil.

    I don't intend to clean fish or skin grizz with mine so YMMV.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
    Darkera likes this.
  16. Darkera


    Oct 22, 2016
    All I did was dab on yellow French's mustard, leave it for maybe 20-30 min, wipe it off and dab again. I did this several times to give that layered look. If I recall I used a q-tip to move the mustard into nice blobs.
    Beastchopper likes this.
  17. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    I just add a drop of gun oil to the pivot every blue moon.

    I've been swimming with several of my Opinel, just for fun..... hours submerged and wet. Usually not too bad to open, even then.

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