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Can a mineral oil finish be dry to the touch?

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Forum topic by Alex posted 12-02-2016 09:15 AM 1685 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Alex

2 posts in 380 days


12-02-2016 09:15 AM

I attempted to refinish an old 10×10x3.5 wooden box made of 6/16 inch thickness wood.T the type of box you see as decoration or on counter-tops. I really don’t like the type of color or gloss that varnishes give, I wanted something more natural. So I went with a butcher/cutting board-style mineral oil and pure lemon oil mix. I removed all the old varnish and sanded the box down to the bare wood with heavy and then fine grit. I then applied two coats of of the mineral oil/lemon oil mix, one day apart to let it soak in completely.

The problem is that the wood is now oily and not completely dry to the touch. I want to be able to put papers in this box so I really don’t want any oil to seep out of the wood. The wood is rather thin, 6/16 inch, but a single application of oil wasn’t enough and it really needed a second coat to penetrate fully. It’s been almost a week now and it’s still not dry. I took paper towels tonight and with some scrubbing I was able to rub some of the oil out.

I know that cutting boards in kitchens aren’t usually this oily to the touch. I have also read that a mix of mineral oil and beeswax can give a better sealant and smoother finish, which I am now thinking may have been what I should have done in the first place. However, with the wood already saturated with mineral oil and lemon oil, I can hardly apply another coat of oil mixed with beeswax at this point right?

What can I do to get this box dry enough so that papers can be kept in this box without getting damaged by the oil?
Please let me know if you need pictures or additional information to help with suggestions.


16 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4766 posts in 2332 days


#1 posted 12-02-2016 12:00 PM

Mineral oil is not a drying oil (it does not cure with exposure to O2, like BLO), so no…it will never dry. That said, I’m not sure what you solution is. My first thought would be to coat the inside with shellac, typically it sticks to everything, dries with no lingering odor, and should be plenty durable for the interior. Even so, I’m not sure it will adhere with mineral oil…you could test it first and go from there. I suspect you can also apply the coat of mineral oil/beeswax you want to use, I’m uncertain what the effect will be.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Mikesawdust's profile

Mikesawdust

324 posts in 2878 days


#2 posted 12-02-2016 12:09 PM

Not a problem I’m familiar with but I might try putting the box opened in the oven on low for a while to at least try to clear the surface a little, then apply a couple of coats of shellac

-- You never cut a piece to short, you are just prepping that piece for a future project

View becikeja's profile

becikeja

824 posts in 2652 days


#3 posted 12-02-2016 12:35 PM

I attempted my first cutting board a few months ago, and had the same issue. I didn’t think the thing would ever dry. What I did: Every morning before I left for work I wiped it dry. When I go home from work I wiped it dry, I can’t recall how many days I did this but eventually it dry. Then I covered with a butcher block wax/oil finish I picked up at big box store and all was good.

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

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bondogaposis

4482 posts in 2190 days


#4 posted 12-02-2016 01:37 PM

Sand it off and start over. Mineral oil will never dry.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Alex's profile

Alex

2 posts in 380 days


#5 posted 12-02-2016 06:46 PM


I attempted my first cutting board a few months ago, and had the same issue. I didn t think the thing would ever dry. What I did: Every morning before I left for work I wiped it dry. When I go home from work I wiped it dry, I can t recall how many days I did this but eventually it dry. Then I covered with a butcher block wax/oil finish I picked up at big box store and all was good.

- becikeja

I’m glad to see that at least 1 person here can actually help me with this problem. Some of you people are too quick to give up.

As for the shellac option, I’m not happy with the way that looks in the end, so that’s not something I’m willing to try.

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

1705 posts in 1062 days


#6 posted 12-02-2016 08:17 PM

Becikeja echoes my experience.

For cutting boards I saturate the wood as much as possible, then let it sit for a day or two. You can see obvious areas where etc oil has all soaked in and areas that are still “wet”.

I’ll rub down the board with paper towels until the surface is all dry. The next day, some of the oil will have begun to seep out of the pores so I use the paper towels again.

Eventually it will be “dry” to the touch, just keep after it.

As to keeping papers in it, you are asking for some residual oil to soak into the papers after some time and causing stains.
Mineral oil is perfect for cutting boards because it is cheap, easy to apply and restore, doesn’t go sour or rancid, and of course absorbs into the wood to help keep water out.

For the same look with paper storage in mind, you really need a “curing” oil like BLO or tung. Danish oil also keeps the “dull” look even though it has varnish added. These oils eventually harden and would probably be a better choice.

View mrbob's profile

mrbob

182 posts in 408 days


#7 posted 12-02-2016 08:20 PM

To get rid of it in the box I would try wiping the wood with some Acetone or Naphtha.

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

2565 posts in 1864 days


#8 posted 12-03-2016 01:10 AM

6/16” is an interesting dimension. You could also say 12/32, 24/64, or 48/128”. Or, you could just say 3/8”.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View jbay's profile (online now)

jbay

1860 posts in 738 days


#9 posted 12-03-2016 01:24 AM



6/16” is an interesting dimension. You could also say 12/32, 24/64, or 48/128”. Or, you could just say 3/8”.

- runswithscissors

or 9.525mm :)

I’m kinda glad I didn’t offer an opinion.
I might of ended up being one of those unappreciated guys that gives up to easily!

-- If anyone would like to see my Portfolio, PM me and I would be glad to send you the link.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4766 posts in 2332 days


#10 posted 12-04-2016 12:42 PM


I m kinda glad I didn t offer an opinion.
I might of ended up being one of those unappreciated guys that gives up to easily!

- jbay

Yep, a mistake I won’t make again.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

1508 posts in 1227 days


#11 posted 12-04-2016 03:17 PM

I put mineral oil on a expandable trivet almost 2 years ago that I gave to a friend. It did eventually dry and now looks awful so I would never use that on anything other than a food contact board or bowl that you will refresh periodically. I think that the MO dries through evaporation so to speed it along, which could take months, warm air and a fan blowing on it may be your best hope. You could try filling the interior with sawdust, wood shavings or finely shredded paper for a while to absorb as much of the surface oil as possible first. You need to wait until the surface looks dry before refinishing. Even then, I don’t know what affect any residual MO will have on it accepting a new finish.

For the look it sounds like you want, boiled linseed oil or Danish oil are the way to go. I like Tried and True Varnish oil. It is basically an old school BLO with a little natural resin for a little extra surface protection. It takes many coats before you get a satin finish. They have one without the varnish too. A satin wiping polyurethane thinned even further with mineral spirits can also give you a similar look. All of these require multiple coats and you simply stop when you achieve the “natural” look you are shooting for.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View chas618's profile

chas618

1 post in 378 days


#12 posted 12-04-2016 05:09 PM

Newbie, here just had to jump in. I did a butcher block island and finished it in a food grade pure tung oil from the real milk paint company. The finish is beautiful. Still looks great a couple years later.

View leafherder's profile

leafherder

1286 posts in 1791 days


#13 posted 12-04-2016 06:48 PM

Hi Alex,

As a woodworker with a Master’s Degree in Archival Administration I have a special interest in your predicament.

1. Basic paper conservation practices do not recommend storing paper in unsealed wood containers – Chemicals in the wood will react with chemicals in the paper to speed up the deterioration. Wood file cabinets, shelves, or boxes should be finished with a waterproof sealant that is fully cured/dried. Also unsealed wood can absorb moisture and humidity which can be transmitted to the paper encouraging the growth of mold and mildew. Metal file cabinets with baked enamel finishes are best for storing paper as they are fire resistant as well as water resistant.

2. Of all the things that can damage paper, oil is the worst – water can be dried, dirt can be removed, but oil seeps into the fibers and causes permanent damage. Do not even think of storing any important papers in your box until you have resolved your oil problem and properly sealed the wood.

3. Removing the oil from saturated wood will be difficult and time consuming. Packing the whole box (inside and out) with absorbent paper which is changed regularly is your only hope. During the process you will need to keep the box in a warm location (cold temperatures will cause the oil to congeal which will slow down the process). You should also turn the box regularly so the oil does not settle at the bottom.

4. If you are impatient to speed up the process you could try a commercial de-greasing agent (household cleaners that remove grease and oil). BE WARNED, these can damage the wood. The process would be: apply degreaser to entire surface, allow to sit a for a few minutes, wipe off. Let the box sit for a few days to allow oils that were absorbed deep into the wood to migrate to the surface, then repeat. Still a lengthy process. This will not be easy.

Good luck

-- Leafherder

View Ted78's profile

Ted78

324 posts in 1839 days


#14 posted 12-13-2016 03:35 PM

Hmm, building on what other people have said here, I would try filling the box with something that will absorb the oil, dry fine sawdust of some type of softer wood maybe? Or maybe even the stuff you put on concrete driveways to absorb oil spills? Mineral oil is just a thinner version of motor oil really. I would also set it someplace really warm so the oil flows better. Your not going to get rid of or remove all the oil, but should get rid of enough of it it it doesn’t feel oily. I have found raw (‘non-boiled’ which actually means they have not added metallic dryers to{also called japan dryer} eventually just get tacky and gooey) mineral oils don’t seem to change at all with age. they just stay oily. Danish Oil, Tung oil, watco oil etc are almost always some kind of oil/varnish blend. They go on like an oil finish and soak in, but offer better protection than just oil. I often like to thin linseed oil with turpentine or paint thinner or whatever, and a bit of japan dryer. It’s quick, and easy and brings out the grain beautifully, but offers no protection, still has to be sealed afterwards somehow. You could use beeswax after soaking up the mineral oil, I think it would work fine, but floor wax would give you the same look, a bit more protection without adding to the oiliness, the carrier for floor wax evaporates away unlike the oil beeswax is usually mixed with. Any of those oil/varnish blends like tung oil or danish oil I think would also be good choices. Alright I’ve rambled enough. Good Luck. I don’t think your problem is as difficult to overcome as some make it out to be.

-- Ted

View McFly's profile

McFly

270 posts in 866 days


#15 posted 12-15-2016 01:45 AM

I have to wonder if oil dry / kitty litter might help with the absorption process.

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