Applying Linseed Oil to Furniture

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Linseed Oil Can Be Used as a Sealer or a Finish


Linseed oil comes in a few different forms, but the most common are: raw and boiled. Raw linseed oil is not usually use as a sealer or a finish on wood because it takes too long to dry, but is used as a lubricant when buffing with pumice, or filling the wood grain before French polishing.

Boiled linseed oil, on the other hand, is commonly used as a sealant on antique wood furniture because it is thicker than raw oil and dries within an acceptable time-frame.

It is commonly used to seal exterior wood furniture and it can be used to renew some types of finishes such as shellac or varnish. It can also be applied as a finish, allowed to dry then waxed over for a buffed and shiny appearance.

Refinishing Antique Furniture

If you decide to choose linseed oil as the product to use for your refinishing project, follow these application steps:

  1. Remove the furniture’s old finish.
  2. Use a natural bristle paintbrush to spread the oil over the entire surface of the wood.
  3. Allow the oil to soak into the wood for approximately half an hour.
  4. Using a clean cotton cloth, take off the oil that did not soak into the wood.
  5. Wait at least a day for the oil to completely dry.
  6. Continue applying several layers – leaving a day of dry time in between each one.
  7. Finish the process by applying wood furniture wax over the top layer.
  8. Buff to a shine.

Renewing Shellac or Varnish Finishes

Linseed oil is an excellent choice for renewing the look of old and dingy shellac or varnish finishes on antique furniture. Follow these steps to renew the finish:

  1. Combine linseed oil and pumice powder to form a mixture.
  2. Using a clean cotton cloth, apply the mixture to the entire surface of the furniture.
  3. If working on a round table, use circular motions to rub the wood. If working on a square or rectangular piece of furniture, use long and straight strokes.
  4. After wiping the furniture, remove the excess linseed oil and pumice mixture off with another clean cotton cloth.
  5. Apply a layer of furniture wax, and buff.

Using Linseed Oil to Polish Furniture

When using linseed oil as a furniture polish, either raw or boiled oil can be selected. The trick is to mix the linseed oil with turpentine or mineral spirits before application.

  1. Locate a glass jar to use as a container for the linseed oil mixture.
  2. Add half a cup of linseed oil and half a cup of turpentine or mineral spirits.
  3. Stir the mixture.
  4. Apply the mixture to the furniture using a clean cotton cloth.
  5. Allow the oil mixture to sit for several minutes.
  6. Using another clean cotton cloth, wipe away the excess oil.
  7. Buff until all excess oil is removed.
  8. Allow to dry for 24 hours.

When to Apply Linseed Oil

Linseed oil is very useful. It seals and preserves wood and provides a protective barrier. It is also relatively inexpensive. For large outdoor projects, such as adding a layer of protection to a wooden picnic table, linseed oil is a good choice. While linseed oil is an excellent product, there are a few negatives associated with it. For example, it is slow drying, it doesn’t provide protection from the sun’s rays, and it can be hard to take off if you decide to re-finish your furniture or outdoor wood with another product.


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