Handmade in Yorkshire by Shane Skelton of Skelton Saws, Peacock Oil is quite unlike any other wood finishing oil I have ever used. The traditional recipe comes from Shane’s previous career making and finishing stocks for fine English handmade guns, it is exactly the same stuff that Shane uses on his saw handles.
The rich blend of natural oils, waxes and resins has been developed and perfected over generations and handed down along with many other skills, techniques and recipes through the process of apprenticeship. It takes time to prepare, some of the ingredients need to be steeped for a couple of weeks prior to use, but no shortcuts are taken – this is the real deal.
A natural oil finish is water repellent, yet breathable, repairable / maintainable, and penetrates deep into the surface, strengthening the fibres and allowing light to enter, refract and reflect - enhancing the natural figure of the wood.
The three shades of Peacock oil intensify and enhance specific shades within the timber, they are not dyes as such, and the effect will vary from one species to another. All the oils have a darkening effect that accompanies the initial explosion of figure referred to as the ‘pop’, once this effect is established clear honey can be built up to a full finish with minimal further change to the tone. Using the other two shades, the tonal change can be steered and fine-tuned as consecutive coats are applied.
Waxy or resinous woods like rosewood or cherry won’t take on much colour at all, so clear honey throughout is the best choice for these, but on drier more powdery woods the colour effect is more pronounced. Regal red will bring out new depths of figure in darker timbers like walnut or elm, while antique amber accentuates and enriches the browns and golds of species like oak, lacewood or beech. It will also, if you can resist the temptation to sand them first, bring back the hidden patina of old dry wooden surfaces.
Peacock oil can be used in many different ways.
Four coats applied at 15 minute intervals and left to cure before applying a hard wax polish gives the classic wax over oil finish often associated with arts and crafts furniture.
Peacock oil can be wet sanded, or used with pore fillers like rottenstone or pumice, to level the surface of porous timbers as a base to French polishing or building into a full deep gloss hand rubbed oil finish.
As with all penetrating finishes it is important to apply at least the first coat to the entire outer surface of the timber in order to avoid distortion, so don’t forget the undersides of table tops and chair seats.