March 23, 2021

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

Oil is probably the best finish for wood carvings. Wood oil typically gives the wood a shiny and protective coating. It helps protect the wood and bring out its 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.

You can use different types of wood oil to ensure your wood is well protected and looks good. Because of their other properties, they are better suited for one job than another.

Danish oil

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

It can be made from tung oil or polymerized linseed oil 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 to coat the area adequately. When you are sure it is properly coated, wipe away the excess oil. 

Danish oil does not have specific ingredients. It is essential 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 want to use it on. 

Teak oil

Another type of oil that you can use is teak oil. It combines different oils and is not an entirely natural wood oil. It can penetrate the wood deeply and also bring out the authentic look of the wood. It’s a good choice for timber with natural regard 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 works well for outdoor furniture that needs protection from weather elements. Applying teak oil, use 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 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. On the other hand, standard linseed will take many days to dry.

linseed oil next to a bowl of Linseeds

Because of this, linseed is an excellent choice for antique pieces of wood that you want to restore to their former glory without altering their appearance. It can restore the wood’s original look while protecting it from water damage. 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

Tung 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. 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 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 why you need to look for it. There are different reasons why it is recommended to use oil in 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.

The right oil will provide a seal. 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 ensure that there is no potential damage that can make it through the oil coat.

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

Is there a difference between wood oil and varnish?

Yes, there is. 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 must choose between oil and varnish and stick to that method. Wood oils are natural; they cure slowly and are absorbed into the wood.

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 it.

How to use wood oil

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

David D. Hughes
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