Finishing woodwork with oil

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, How To Guides

Unlike standard finishes like paint and varnish which sit on the surface of the wood, oil penetrates the timber providing a durable finish that does not crack or peel over time. Most oil finishes will last for a few years and is an easy project to maintain.

Types of oil finish

There are various types of oil finish available on the market, here are the most popular ones:

Linseed oil

Linseed oil is a traditional finishing oil used for centuries to protect wood. It is rarely used nowadays mainly because it can take up to 3 days to dry. An alternative is boiled linseed oil that has dryers added and has been gently heated reducing drying time to around 24 hours.

Tung oil
Sometimes referred to as Chinese wood oil, Tung oil is water, alcohol and fruit juice resistant and is suitable to use on both interior and exterior woodwork. Tung oil takes approximately 24 hours to dry.

Danish oil

Danish oil is a commercial wood finishing product which is based on Tung oil but has synthetic resins added to improve durability and strength. Danish oil can be used for any woodwork and can even be used as a top coat for varnish and paint. Danish oils usually take approximately 6 hours to dry depending on the temperature and humidity.

Applying an oil finish

Before applying the finishing oil it is important to clean the timber thoroughly, use white spirits to wipe down the timber and leave to dry.

Apply the first coat of oil with a paintbrush making sure that the whole piece is covered and leave it to sit for around 15 minutes. Then using a soft cloth or pad gently wipe off the excess oil and leave to dry. After approximately 6 hours use an abrasive fibre pad to put on the next coat of oil making sure to rub with the grain of the wood, once full coverage has been obtained leave to dry overnight.

Picture: Daniel Slaughter

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