WHAT IS THE BEST FINISH FOR WOOD? Part II June 03, 2015 17:00

Why not Linseed Oil?


Well, quite simply because you cannot build a film with it that will enable you to control the amount of sheen, or the degree of protection (or much of any protection, really).

And it has some other drawbacks, too.

Raw linseed oil basically will not dry; it is essentially the same as the flaxseed oil taken as a dietary supplement, though with contaminants. Boiled linseed oil must be used for wood finishing.

While linseed oil will bring out the grain and warm the color of wood, I find that it provides little protection against liquids, dirt, scratching.  And while it gives some sheen, it cannot be built up for greater protection or a slightly shinier surface.   Attempts to build a film by applying it heavily and wiping it less thoroughly will result in in a goopy mess that never dries, never hardens.

It is useful for darkening the color of wood; certain woods will darken quite a bit and quite quickly when finished with linseed oil, Cherry in particular.

But for this reason, never use linseed oil to finish antiques; it is a restorer’s nightmare. It usually darkens the old wood unnaturally — and it cannot be removed or the wood lightened.

It also contains metallic dryers, and while in the lexicon of toxins you can encounter while working wood this might be further down the list, it still calls for attention when using it. 

        next: why tung oil?