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Liquid Glass finish

Michael Anderson

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Hi all,

I recently saw a post on Instagram by Rabea Gebler. She turned a small chestnut bowl that had a liquid glass finish. Hydrophobic, matte, and minimal change to natural wood color. This intrigued me (I've never heard of liquid glass, outside of bartop epoxy style), so I did a mini deep-dive. Apparently, it is Silicon (Si) suspended in alcohol. When cured, the Silicon reacts with the wood fibers (and likely the moisture in the wood) to create a ceramic-like glaze that is food-safe and water-repellant (hydrophobic). It withstands washing with soap (to a degree), and increases the durability of the piece. Here is a relevant article written by Jarrod Dahl (it's tied to a specific product, so grain of salt...). The finish is quite popular in Japan, and is not super commonly found in the U.S. That said, there are a couple of suppliers I found. Pricewise, it is similar to Rubio Monocoat.

Anyway, it seems like a pretty great product, and worth the cost of entry.

Does anyone here have experience using this?
 
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I've never used it myself, but Jarrod Dahl is a buddy of mine and he has tested quite a lot. He's a pretty no nonsense kind of guy, so I personally would trust what he says in his article. Now having said that, when he showed me some pieces treated back in the day when he first started using it and it was interesting. My worry is exactly what you mention, durability, but also as you say they use it a lot in Japan.

Jarrod and Rabea also both use Urushi extensively, and have both done a lot of research into finishes, so I for one am somewhat interested in the liquid glass.

Not sure how helpful this is other than vouching for Jarrod, but there you go.
 
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Interesting product. What is the coverage? At $185/quart, it's pretty expensive. Also wondering about shelf life. I guess for fine pieces, it might be worth the cost, if a matte finish is what is desired.
 

Michael Anderson

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Thank you all for the input. The price is pretty high, but you can get a small sampler for less (and, @john lucas I hear you!). @Tom Lucas I'm curious about coverage as well. I imagine that a little goes a long way, but that's just an assumption. I would think that shelf life is similar to most alcohol based products--long-ish lasting if not exposed to water/high humidity/air/etc... I suppose I would treat it similar to DNA. That said, I suppose if I was buying/using this for a production approach, I wouldn't get to the point of it going bad. For occasional use, I'm not so sure.

I don't know anything about how it's manufactured, but the high price is probably very much related to supply/demand. As far as I know, outside of Japan, there are only a couple of sources. @Oliver Moss thanks for backing up Jarrod. I read through a few of his articles/reviews, and it looks like he does nice work! Urushi is something that I'm interested in, though it will like be a while when/if I take the plunge--I need to develop a bit more patience first :p Rabea has posted a lot of cool behind the scenes videos about urushi harvesting, processing, etc..., as well alternative uses (in kintsugi, for example). Wildly fascinating!

@Jim McLain I don't really have any experience with Rubio Monocoat, but I know a lot of flat woodworkers that rave about it. Apparently, a little goes a long way, and it's fairly easy to use. Wipe on, buff off soon after. Others likely have more detailed input.

If I end up trying out a sampler of liquid glass, I'll follow-up here with some photos and a reflection of my experience. If nothing else, it's fun to try to something new.
 
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@Michael Anderson Yeah, a lot of folks in the greenwood world are experimenting with Urushi, probably because of Jarrod's work with it. It's super cool, but you do need patience for sure, and a really specific curing cabinet.
 
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Just curious the term green wood has always meant wood that has been fresh cut and not dried and in wood turning for the last 25 to 30 years green wood turning has meant the same. So what is the "greenworld" please?

Greenwood working is a term for traditional handcraft like spoon carving pole lathe turning and other traditional craft using green wood. I got in to wood working as a spoon carver, but then I started pole lathe turning and found out that I am a turner for sure. I still carve spoons and make shrink pots and the like, but I turn and teach pole lathe turning primarily.

But yeah, greenwood working is working wood in a fresh and undried state as they did in many craft traditions.
 
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I still carve spoons and make shrink pots and the like,
Several years ago we had a demonstrator at the club in Fargo Moorhead called Minndak Woodturners do a demo on traditional scandinavian work mostly about shrink boxes. I made one in the traditional oval form but then I switched to round and finish turning on the powered lathe. The material I used was the live fresh cut native birch from the surrounding woods and found that it is a flawless methode. The bottoms never loosen and the sides never crack.
7024-5-6Birch.JPG
The above shrink canisters/box/pot are an example of some that I have done. The blotchy look is from the oxidation from drying that only partially is removed in the finish turning. The line near the bottom on the middle one is not a crack but rather a sap streak.
 
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Several years ago we had a demonstrator at the club in Fargo Moorhead called Minndak Woodturners do a demo on traditional scandinavian work mostly about shrink boxes. I made one in the traditional oval form but then I switched to round and finish turning on the powered lathe. The material I used was the live fresh cut native birch from the surrounding woods and found that it is a flawless methode. The bottoms never loosen and the sides never crack.
View attachment 50207
The above shrink canisters/box/pot are an example of some that I have done. The blotchy look is from the oxidation from drying that only partially is removed in the finish turning. The line near the bottom on the middle one is not a crack but rather a sap streak.
Note i tried ash once and it shrunk so much that a large crack appeared but the birch never have that problem. Notice the one on the left that started as a straight cylinder but no cracking occurred during drying.
 
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Michael - Very interesting article. At $185 a quart it better be good. I just heard about Rubio Monocoat the other day. Do you or others have any experience with it?
I have no specific experience with Rubio, but I understand it perfoms similarly to other hard wax oil products such as Osmo Polyx-Oil which some people here do use. There are some previous threads on the topic.
 
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I bought a small can of the Hassui liquid glass finish from Jarrod a couple of years ago and I like it a lot. It's very easy to apply, and the coverage is quite good. I've mostly been using it for shot glasses and it seems to hold up well. Clean your brushes thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol afterward. It's easier to apply to slightly more porous woods. Really dense woods like manzanita don't soak it in as well as walnut or maple.
 

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john lucas

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Where do you get this product. The pictures I'm seeing do not look glossy. When I hear glass finish I'm thinking super smooth clear gloss.
 
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I bought a small can of the Hassui liquid glass finish from Jarrod a couple of years ago and I like it a lot. It's very easy to apply, and the coverage is quite good. I've mostly been using it for shot glasses and it seems to hold up well. Clean your brushes thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol afterward. It's easier to apply to slightly more porous woods. Really dense woods like manzanita don't soak it in as well as walnut or maple.
These shot glasses are great. Well done! The liquid glass is more matte than I imagined. I want to try it out now
 
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Hi! New to this platform, and I realise this is an old discussion, but since I was mentioned, I thought I could give my two cents: Liquid Glass is great, but it is expensive, and I often don't think it is necessary to use it. I personally use urushi, and in my opinion, when it comes to durability, that is the best finish out there. But I believe it is misleading to call urushi a wood finish, urushi is a whole craft to be mastered on its own, takes a lot of study, has some health risks while uncured and will produce a very distinct effect. So, if I don't want to use urushi, I have been using oils, but those will change the colour of the wood, have a smell, and aren't very durable. So, in some very rare cases, when I work with super light-coloured wood, which I want to be more durable than with the use of an oil finish, and I want to avoid the yellowing at all costs - I use glass finish. I think it is a great option when I produce maple or chestnut pieces for restaurant use for example. It actually isn't used in Japan too much; the Japanese prefer to use Urethan Finishes on wood. If I wasn't able to get Hasui in Japan for the Japanese price, I would think twice about using it. Although it has a gorgeous matte finish, without any smell or colouring and is really quite durable, the price point for production ware is usually not worth it.
 
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I am generally a walnut oil kind of turner, but I am delighted to learn about these other options. That said, one of the gents in my group finishes all of his mills and shaving gear with Parfix 308.

I have tried it on a number of pieces, and found it to be great for items to hold liquid. What I love about it is that it is a beautiful matte finish(my usual preference), but can also be buffed up to a gloss finish. As I understand it, it is just a VERY thin cyanoacrylate that can soak in to the wood.
 
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It actually isn't used in Japan too much; the Japanese prefer to use Urethan Finishes on wood.
Is there a particular type of urethane finish used there? My wife was in Japan recently and brought back a pair of bamboo cups, which (according to the packaging) were treated with urethane to be water resistant and washable. The finish is matte and feels nice, whatever it is.
 
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Is there a particular type of urethane finish used there? My wife was in Japan recently and brought back a pair of bamboo cups, which (according to the packaging) were treated with urethane to be water resistant and washable. The finish is matte and feels nice, whatever it is.
There are plenty, but I don't know much about the specifics. My favourite is a beeswax urethan mix, which has made me change my mind about urethan (I used to avoid it at all costs). Gorgeous matte finishes with that beautiful beeswax effect, but completely waterproof. Something that unfortunately is being sold more and more is Japanese woodenware marked as "lacquerware" or "urushi finish" when in reality it's either one coat of urushi for finish and then urethan or top, or straight up urethan. If woodenware has visible grain and is matte, or has the original wood colour - it is never true urushi. Unfortunately clear matte black is very trendy right now...
 
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Hey. I'm new to this forum and thought I'd make a comment here on this older thread. The back story for this finish for me is that I was searching for a finish with no taste or smell, and did not have chemically complex ingredients. I had been to Japan a few times to teach green woodworking and study wood turning and urushi lacquer and heard about it there. After much searching and deep diving into the ceramic coating I heard about there I decided to buy some. The shipping was more than the product. But after running some tests. My wife and I decided to import it. This allows for the price to be very much the same as in Japan. In fact that's what the company wanted. This also allows me to have a supply for my production of wooden cups and bowls. Things meant for daily use and washed, etc....I really like it. Once fully cured it's inert and pretty durable. The finish is very thin so it soaks into the wood easily. It cures like any polymerizing oil i.e binds with oxygen. Think of it as a Silicon (note silicone) polymer. It's basically si-o bonds. The finish does build after 5 plus coats but there is always more finish under or within the wood and this is hardened too. But it's important to not compare it to other thicker finished that build quickly. It's a whole different paradigm in a way. When I first got some, I poured 1/8 cup of it into a plastic cup and let it polymerize. It takes about 20 days. It turned to a solid. Kinda like very hard plastic, but rememeber it's just si-o. So this is what the finish is under the surface of the wood. Applied to wood it's saoks in and is dry to the touch within a few hours, semi cured within a week and full hard after 20 days. I've talked with a few chemists about it to gain a better understanding of it. We usually use 5 coats. We keep applying it as it soaks in. Then give it a day or two and apply more, etc.... With daily washing and after a month or more the surface will wear away, like any finish would, but under the surface is the hardened finish. It's not hard like window glass, that's been heated to make it brittle. It's flexible enough to allow the wood to move. Again it's really a whole different way of looking at finished. We always suggest trying a sample first. Some folks don't like it. If your making decorative work with a specific look it may not be a good fit. But it works for me. I want as natural or simple of a finish as I can find that has no taste or smell on my wooden table ware. I also use urushi but that's a different post.
 
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I have tried the Rubio Monocote, and I do like it better than the Osmo. Now, there is a 'ceramic' top coat that can be applied that comes from the auto industry. I have not tried that yet.

robo hippy
 
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In the tobacco pipe makers realm it's called waterglass rather than liquid glass. I used it on a few pipes years ago but it was used on the inside of the tobacco chamber not on the outside as a finish. It was mixed with charcoal to give pipes a more "finished" or factory look. It was also proclaimed to help the wood be much more fire/flame retardant. I remember seeing a pipe maker on YouTube doing a demonstration of it's fire resistance on briar wood. As with any other subject there were some who loved it & swore by it and others who despised it. Anyway I thought I'd mention that in case it might be of help to some of you researching it.
 
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I have used a lot of or its equivalent 'glass coat' and yes its expensive and it works well. I use it to hold together some of my worst blanks as it is a very slow setting resin this allows full penetration into the smallest of checks and cracks
 
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Since @Tim Pollock mentions it, I wonder how similar the Hassui product is to water glass (sodium silicate). Both have silicate as the major ingredient. Water glass can dissolve in water, but it in an alkaline environment it polymerizes and becomes 100% waterproof. It’s used among other things to waterproof concrete floors like at Home Depot. I wonder if wood is alkaline enough to cause polymerization?

Water glass is quite cheap at $20 per gallon.
 
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I wonder how similar the Hassui product is to water glass (sodium silicate). Both have silicate as the major ingredient.
They are likely very similar; however, formulations and other ingredients often add new properties/behavior to the main ingredients. Those are usually defined as proprietary ingredients and thus do not have to be disclosed (at least in the U.S.).
 
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