How to Apply Oil

The traditional oil-finishing work schedule is daunting, to say the least: ‘Once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, once a year for the rest of your life.’ The principle, if not perhaps deman­ding quite such a taxing regime, is that you soak the wood until it will absorb no more, wipe off the surplus, leave it to set for 24 hours, paper it down, and soak it again. When it will take no more, or after a week, whichever comes first, buff it long and hard with a cloth wrapped in a brick. ‘Top it up’ regularly.

Liquid waxes with pigments have deep penetration, but melting beeswax and carnauba gives control over consistency, and a lighter tone.

Wood Oil

There are ways round this off-putting schedule, such as using the ‘oil-resin’ finish. This is an equal-parts mixture of varnish, white spirit and linseed or pro­prietary oil, soaked, wiped, papered and burnished in the same way, which offers a particularly effective combination of flexibility and durability. The ‘buffing with a brick’ part – the extra weight gives extra friction – could be eased by fitting a cloth pad to an orbital sander; as with any finish, the result is in direct proportion to the amount of work you put in.

If you use the proprietary teak, tung or Danish oils, a first-class brush is every bit as important as for varnish application, if not more so. Brush the first coat on, leaving a film which you should cut right back to the wood the next day. Then do three or four more coats, wire wooling each one, but merely de-nibbing, not rubbing back so much. Burnish with wax and wire wool, pumice or rottenstone. Extra penetration is achieved by laying these oils over an initial soaking of 50/50 raw linseed oil and white spirit.

Wood Oil

Both these and linseed oils can be tinted with pigments, oil stains, or oil-soluble aniline dyes. Beware seepage – an oil-finished piece should stand on plastic until you are sure no more will seep from the legs on to the carpet!

Filed Under: Home & Maintenance


About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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