March 23, 2021

What kind of oil should I put on my wood carving?

Wood oil is used as a way to finish wood. It will help protect the wood and bring out the wood’s natural character, but it should not be confused with varnish. The two are different. Wood oils are easy to apply and also easy to maintain. 

There are different types of wood oil that you can use to make sure that your wood is well protected and looks the part. Their different characteristics make them more suitable for one job over another. 

Danish oil

The first type that we will look at is Danish oil. It has a resilient finish, and it is usually used on cricket bats to provide protection and durability. The finish also helps protect the wood from water damage. Danish oil has a more refined and rich finish to it which is neither glossy nor slippery.

It can be made from tung oil or polymerized linseed oil, which is then mixed with solvents. The eventual look of the wood is deep and has character when you use danish oil. You will only need a small amount to cover an area. To apply it, use a brush or a soft cloth so that you can adequately coat the area. When you are sure it is properly coated, wipe away the excess oil. 

Danish oil does not have specific ingredients. It is important to make sure that you read up on the ingredients in the oil by a particular manufacturer to make sure that it works for the wood that you would want to use it on. 

Teak oil

Another type of oil that you can use is teak oil. It is a combination of different oils and is not an entirely natural wood oil. It can penetrate the wood deeply and also bring out the true look of the wood. It’s a good choice for wood with a natural look that you may want to show off, such as teak, rosewood, pine, and mahogany, amongst many others. 

Teak oil is water and UV-resistant, which means that it works well for outdoor furniture that needs protection from weather elements. Applying teak oil uses a soft brush or cloth and applies a generous amount of oil to the wood. Allow it to dry. This should take about 15 minutes. Then apply a second coat. The many coats of oil are so that the oil is absorbed into the wood. 

Linseed oil

This is one of the most common oils that you will find on the market for wood carvings. It is often used for indoor carvings or furniture. There are different types of linseed oil. Boiled linseed oil will take about 12 hours or a day to dry after application. Standard linseed, on the other hand, will take many days to dry.

linseed oil next to a bowl of Linseeds

It can restore the original look of wood while protecting the wood from water damage. Because of this, linseed is a great choice for antique pieces of wood that you want to restore to their former glory without altering the appearance. Linseed oil does not change the color of the wood. Boiled linseed has drying agents, while pure linseed will have a yellow tint after some time. 

Tung oil

This oil is extracted from tung trees. It’s a natural oil commonly used for wood carvings and furnishings. The great thing about this oil is that it is non-toxic and safe to use. It is eco-friendly. Also, it won’t change the natural look of the wood but rather enhance it. After application, the wood will have a soft look, with a golden hint of color. 

When applying it, you won’t need a lot of oil. Use a soft brush or cloth and apply only as much as you need to cover the wood. Allow the oil to dry for about an hour, then apply another coat. Keep doing this until the wood is fully penetrated. The desired result is when the oil just sits on the wood and doesn’t sink in. 

The downside with this oil is that it is not as durable as the other oils. As such, it is not a good choice for outdoor wood.

Why use wood oil?

Before you ask about a product to use, it helps to know the reasons why you need to look for it. There are different reasons why it is recommended to use oil on a wood carving. Oil protects wood from water or moisture damage. Most oils will provide a coat of protection so that water and other damaging elements can not reach the wood.

Oil will preserve the integrity of the wood and increase its durability. If your carving is something that you want to last through many years, then you also want to make sure that there is no potential damage that can make it through the oil coat. The right oil will provide a seal.

The other reason to use wood oils is to bring out the natural look of the wood. The oil should also add a good finish to the wood, giving it a glossy look.

Is there a difference between wood oil and varnish?

Yes, there is. Wood oils are natural, they cure slowly, and they are absorbed into the wood. Wood varnish is water-based. You will need to apply it to wood that isn’t treated. If it is, you will need to sand it down first. When it comes to wood care, you will need to choose between oil and varnish and stick to that particular method.

Varnish is made by combining and cooking natural products. It is synthetic, while wood oil is not. It is built upon the carving so that a plastic-like coating is created to protect the wood, unlike oils that are sucked into the wood.

How to use wood oil

The first thing to do would be to make sure that the surface is clean. Then ensure that you stain the wood beforehand if that’s what you want to do. Use a water-based stain and make sure that nothing is blocking the wood oil from sinking into the wood effectively. Apply the wood oil according to its instructions.

David D. Hughes

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