Using Boiled Linseed Oil

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Forum topic by Glen Peterson posted 03-21-2011 01:26 AM 48953 views 5 times favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Glen Peterson

556 posts in 3019 days

03-21-2011 01:26 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing boiled linseed oil

Hi Folks,
A fellow woodworker recently told me that he finished some oak with boiled linseed oil followed by a few coats of Waterlox. He said that the BLO darkened the oak, which is what I’d like to do, but I don’t want to either stain, dye, or fume. I’ve never used BLO, but have read the can and a few posts here and it seems quite straightforward. Are there any application tips I should be aware of before I start?
Thanks in advance.

-- Glen

35 replies so far

View bigike's profile


4050 posts in 3252 days

#1 posted 03-21-2011 01:31 AM

It does make the wood look yellowish over time other than that just wipe on let sit for about five minutes or so and wipe off excess use more than one coat if necessary cuz some figured woods have end grain on the face and drink this stuff up.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2886 days

#2 posted 03-21-2011 01:35 AM

Let it dry good before topcoating.

-- Life is good.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3078 days

#3 posted 03-21-2011 01:48 AM

you can mix the first layer or two with 1/3 of Terpentine to help the BLO
penetrate deeper into the wood before the last coat with out terpentine


View Kalijah's profile


19 posts in 3305 days

#4 posted 03-21-2011 02:58 AM

I use the heck out of BLO. I’ve never used it on Oak before, however on most woods that i have used it on, Cherry, maple, walnut, mahogany, it has popped the figure and added an amber hue to the wood. As always, get some scraps and do a test board. Besides, if you don’t end up using the BLO on the oak, you’ll love it on the other woods I’ve mentioned.

As far as application, just slather it on, let it sit for a couple of minutes and wipe it off. On a hot summer day it’ll be ready to top coat in an hour or so, but otherwise wait overnight to err on the catious side. Also what Dennis said to cut the BLO with Terpentine or Mineral spirits to allow a deeper penetration.

-- If you can't do it right the first time, then when are you going to find the time to do it right the second time...

View ChuckV's profile


3110 posts in 3490 days

#5 posted 03-21-2011 03:16 AM

I’m sure that you noticed that the instructions say to remove the excess oil after a few minutes, as Ike mentioned. This is important, since BLO not absorbed into the wood does not dry. I once left some out on a plastic surface to see what would happen. After a few months, it was still kind of a gooey jelly.

I have used BLO on many species of wood and I like the results. I recently used BLO on oak for the first time. It continued to weep out of the pores for about a week. Since then, it has been fine. You might want to check for this before you apply the topcoat. I checked by putting a piece of paper on the surface and holding it down with a board or book. After a few minutes, I checked the paper. When it was weeping, there were little oily dots on the paper. In retrospect, I probably should not have used three coats in this case.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3078 days

#6 posted 03-21-2011 03:27 AM

you have to wait minimum 24 hours between each coat to cure
and yes wipe of what havn´t sucked in after 5 to 10 minuts
after the last layer you can thoose to applie other stuff as well
or you can buff it


View wb8nbs's profile


164 posts in 2656 days

#7 posted 03-21-2011 04:39 AM

I usually pour about a quarter cup of BLO into a dish and mix in a couple tablespoons of Minwax stain to get a little more color. I apply the oil with a piece of wet or dry sandpaper, 220 first coat, 320 second coat, on a small sanding block. BLO doesn’t solidify that fast, I’d wait a half hour to wipe it down, when it just starts looking dry. Rub it good with shop grade paper towels. Check the piece a few hours later for oil bleeding out the pores of the wood and if you see the little pools of oil on the wood, wipe it down again. For the last coat to really be smooth, rub it down again hard after a couple hours with an old T shirt.

Apply the BLO in the warmest part of the day. Bleeding will be minimized if the piece cools down.

Spread all oily rags out to dry for at least a day, they will catch fire if you wad them up in a ball.

-- The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

View Servelan's profile


39 posts in 2744 days

#8 posted 03-21-2011 03:48 PM

A long time ago before I knew better, I gently heated some boiled linseed oil on the stove and applied it warm with a rag, slopping on and wiping off.

It’s not a safe thing to do – I was lucky my mother had done a lot of candle making and drummed into me safety melting paraffin, so I watched the stuff on the stove like a hawk – but it made a real nice finish.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4091 days

#9 posted 03-21-2011 04:00 PM

Waterlox on top of BLO is redundant. The Waterlox product is a tung oil phenolic resin varnish and doesn’t really gain anything by applying over BLO.

-- 温故知新

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 2924 days

#10 posted 03-21-2011 05:47 PM

BLO is probably the most forgiving, healthy, easy and natural way of protecting wood, but you got to like the color it gives.
out of lazyness i treated some oak pencil boxes with BLO, at first i thought i had ruined them. the boxes became almost orange, but now weeks later it has turned to a verry natural looking medium oak color. almost asif the boxes were 100 years old.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2934 days

#11 posted 03-22-2011 06:40 AM

I like to mix a little Minwax red oak stain in BLO, about a teaspoon per ounce. Very nice stuff. I read somewhere you can’t buy BLO in California; it’s baned out there. I supposed this is due to VOC content or some such BS. Good thing I don’t live out there; I’d have to jerk a knot is some tree huggers arse, sooner or later.

One warning though, like all oil finishing products, don’t leave rags laying in a pile with BLO on them. They will ignite spontaneously. This is true for BLO, tung oil, varnish, danish oil, or any similar products.

View jimboy's profile


28 posts in 2607 days

#12 posted 03-22-2011 08:58 AM

If you want to darken oak mix white vinegar and steel wool let it soak for several hours and apply to oak this will ebonise the oak let it dry and sand to shade you desire then apply you prefered finish

View mafe's profile


11643 posts in 3052 days

#13 posted 03-22-2011 01:31 PM

I never thinn it, I wait with patience…
If you use thinner or terpentine, it will make the product thinner yes, but it will also de grease the wood, and the resin in the wood will dry so in long term the wood will become more fragile and dry more. One of the main advantages of linseed oil is that it can by nature penetrade so deep.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View swirt's profile


2640 posts in 2935 days

#14 posted 03-22-2011 04:32 PM

Mafe are you sure about the terpentine? I know many period furniture makers/restoreres use turpentine with BLO to consilidate the wood. Turpentine with linseed oil, to the best of my knowledge, is a mixture that has been used for a long time on wood.

Here is one example. Stephen Shepherd expands on it in reply to comments from some curious guy ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

View mafe's profile


11643 posts in 3052 days

#15 posted 03-22-2011 06:15 PM

Swirt I am fully aware of this, and that this is a long tradition, also in my country.
But the producers I spoke with when I was teaching at school of constructing architects said this was all bad habbit, and for the reasons above. Sure no convinced yes. I think it even sound logic.
I know in Poland where I once had windows restored they said they would never ever do it, that I had to wait for the process. I think we are just impatient, and when we are, then we should find other oils, that are made for this purpose.
Big smile,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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