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What is the best WOOD OIL for your project?

Written by Whittle Waxes


Posted on May 03 2021

When it comes to woodworking, whether you’re dealing with timber flooring, furniture, or outdoor wood products, applying the right finish is critical.

Wood oil is used as a finish because it can help to preserve the wood whilst also bringing out the natural beauty of the timber.

The problem is, with so many different types of wood oil, it’s not always easy figuring out which oil you should use.

A lot of people assume that wood finishes are relatively similar – as long as you apply a finish, it doesn’t really matter if you use linseed oil, teak oil, or a few coats of tung oil.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Any type of timber product is an investment that should last for years.

And, it’s by applying the right wood oil that you’ll be able to bring out the best of the wood.

So, instead of running to your local hardware store or buying a wood oil online without an idea of how each type of oil will impact the timber, we’ve put together this helpful guide on choosing the best wood oil for your woodworking project.

Why use wood oil instead of varnish?

When you want to enhance the natural appearance of timber, wood oil is the best finish to choose.

A good quality oil can bring out the inherent character of the wood, whilst also adding an attractive sheen or gloss to the surface.

Oils are also easy to apply, and timber products finished with oil are relatively easy to maintain.

What are the different types of wood oil?

The following are some of the classic wood oils used in woodworking, their benefits, how to apply them, and any drawbacks you should be aware of.

Linseed oil

For interior timber, linseed is a classic go-to option.

Be sure to look for boiled linseed, which takes about 12 hours to one day to dry, as opposed to several days for standard linseed.

The advantage of linseed is that it won’t impact the colour of the wood. It’s also water-repellent. Linseed is often used on timber furniture and for restoring the look of antique wood products as it can strengthen your existing finish.

If you’re applying linseed to a new timber product, you’ll need to apply three to five coats, at least. Rub the oil into the wood with a cloth, wipe away any excess, and then let it dry for about one day in between each coat.

The downside of boiled linseed is that it contains drying agents, so don’t use it on surfaces where you’d prepare food. A pure linseed oil finish will yellow over time.

Tung oil

Like linseed oil, tung oil is a natural wood oil. It comes from the nuts of tung trees. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a safe, non-toxic wood oil that won’t change the natural look of the wood. You’ll get a soft, shiny appearance on the surface and a subtle golden colouring.

Tung oil is easy to apply. Apply a small amount with a lint-free cloth. After an hour, wipe off any excess then let it dry for 24 hours, at least, before applying a second coat. You can apply multiple coats until the oil stops penetrating and sits on the surface.

While tung oil is a safe, eco-friendly choice, it can be hard to work with pure tung oil. Also, it’s not as hard-wearing as other oils, so it’s not a good choice for outdoor timber or for wooden floors.

Danish oil

This wood finishing oil is made from either tung oil or polymerised linseed oil mixed with solvents. It’s known for providing a hard-wearing finish that’s resistant to water, making it a good choice for timber flooring, kitchen cabinetry, and exterior timber. With Danish oil, you’ll get a nice satin look that’s not glossy or slippery. The oil penetrates deeply, which gives an attractive depth to the wood’s grain.

To apply Danish oil, use a brush or cloth and apply a small amount to the surface.

You can start with a small amount, working it into the surface, and applying more after about 15 minutes to make sure you’re giving the wood enough to absorb and to create an even coat.

Then, wipe off any excess. You can apply up to three coats, but let it dry overnight in between coats.

Because there is no specific formula for Danish oil, be aware that some manufacturers may use more toxic solvents in their product. Also, this type of oil doesn’t completely seal the wood. To prevent it from drying out and losing its lustre, you’ll need to reapply periodically.

Teak oil

Like Danish oil, teak oil will penetrate deeply, making it a good choice for difficult types of timber such as teak wood, mahogany, and rosewood.

Because it’s both water and UV-resistant, this is a wood oil you can use for both interior and exterior projects.

With teak oil, start with a liberal application using a cloth or a brush. Let it dry for about 15 to 30 minutes and then apply more so plenty of the oil can absorb into the wood. Let it dry overnight between coats.

Teak oil is a combination of natural oils and solvents, so keep in mind it’s not a purely natural wood oil. Also, because it will penetrate deeply, it’s not a good finish for softer woods such as pine.

What’s the difference between teak oil and Danish oil?

Both teak and Danish oil are oil and solvent combinations that penetrate deeply into the wood. They can be made from a blend of linseed and tung oils – which are natural, nut, or seed-based wood oils – and solvents. Danish oil is known for yielding a slightly glossier and harder finish than teak oil. Teak oil is known for being a long-lasting finish for both exterior and interior wood so you won’t need to reapply it as often as Danish oil.

Are varnishes and wood oils interchangeable?

A varnish is water-based, so you can’t apply it to a surface that’s been treated with a wood oil unless you remove the oil finish with a sander. This is something to keep in mind as once you treat your wood with oil, you’ll want to make sure you continue using wood oil to condition the timber.

How to use wood oil properly

When working with wood oils, there are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Always clean the wood before applying – remove any dirt and debris.
  • If you want to stain the wood beforehand, use a water-based stain as an oil-based stain could stop your wood oil from penetrating into the wood.
  • Don’t forget that oil is flammable, so be sure to dry out any cloths you use to apply the oil before storing or throwing away.
  • Keep in mind the safety of the oil – some oils are either flammable or can pollute the air, which is not something you want for indoor products, in particular.
  • Use a good quality oil for the best results.


The best wood oil for the majority of timber projects

If you want an all-around premium wood oil that has all the characteristics you're looking for – non-toxic, hard-wearing, easy to apply, and safe for all surfaces – Whittle Waxes Hardwax Oils are the best place to start.

Made from a blend of sustainable raw materials including carnauba wax, beeswax, linseed oil, sunflower oil, and jojoba oil – and completely free from biocides or preservatives – you can avoid all the downsides of other oils while enjoying the advantages of a safe hardwax oil.

Whittle Waxes Hardwax Oils enhance the natural aesthetic of timber. Once you apply it, the colour improves with age. The hardwax penetrates without suffocating the timber, preventing cracking and ensuring a gorgeous, long-lasting finish. View the Whittle Waxes Hardwax Oil range to find the perfect wood oil for your project.



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