Pros and Cons of Oil Finishes
These popular finishes are easy to use, but you need to pick the right one for the job
Synopsis: Consulting editor Chris A. Minick explains the chemistry of boiled linseed oil, tung oil, and walnut oil, helping you to select the one that’s right for your project. He offers tips for using these popular finishes and discusses the differences between pure oil finishes and oil/varnish mixes. Side information addresses the fire hazard posed by oily finishing rags.
In a recent poll on the Fine Woodworking Web site, more than half of readers chose either pure oil or an oil/varnish mix as their favorite finish. This is not surprising, given that oil finishes are easy to use, easy to renew, and above all, hard to mess up.
But there still is a lot of confusion about oil finishes: What are the merits of different types of oil? What can oil finishes do and not do? What are the differences between pure-oil finishes and oil/varnish mixtures?