I’ve just given one of my personal toboggans a quick touch up coat of linseed oil for the coming season. In the archives of this blog is an article on toboggan maintenance that goes into more details for preserving and/or beautifying your wooden sled or wooden toboggan. This writing is a more candid piece on what I do and is all you really need to do to freshen up your sleigh.
The whole process takes minutes and it is quite simple. I prefer linseed oil because it is an excellent wood preservative and I don’t like to build up the finish on the surface of the wood. However there may be some who prefer varnishes or polyurethane.
Linseed oil is not ready to sand for a long while after it is first applied and it also will gum-up your sand paper if you use a power sander, which is likely to “heat” the surface as your sanding it.
Since my toboggan has been in summer storage the old linseed oil finish is dry and can be sanded lightly without gumming up the sand paper. I use one sheet of 150 grit sand paper and fold it into quarter sections. I hold the folded sand paper in my hand sanding lightly with the grain briefly in any one area. I will also flip the paper regularly to keep it “cool”.
If you smooth your opposite hand over the old finish you may likely feel some roughness. With just a few passes with sharp new 150 grit sand paper it will smooth quickly. That’s it, just a light sanding.
Next I’ll wipe off the dust and give a fresh coat of boiled linseed oil on the top, sides, and around the curl down until where the bottom surface first meets the snow. That’s it, that’s all that needs to be recoated as the bottom surface needs to be free of finish to remain polished and slick.
I also like to leave it sit for a few minutes and then wipe down the just applied oil with paper towels to even out the finish and remove any excess that may pool on the surface. I use disposable latex gloves when working with linseed oil.
When I’m finished I gather up the used paper towels saturated with linseed oil in the palm of my hand and squeeze them into a ball. Then while I have the paper towels clenched in my hand I’ll turn that glove inside out as I remove it with my other hand. The result is all those waste towels are now encapsulated inside a latex glove. I put this in my other hand that still has a glove and do the same. Now the towels are inside of two latex gloves and I discard this in the outside garbage for disposal. Remember boiled linseed oil is quite susceptible to spontaneous combustion and saturated rags or towels should never be left indoors!
I started with a cup of hot tea and when I finished there was still a quarter cupful of warm tea! The toboggan looks beautiful once again!