Questions on finishing with mineral oil

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Forum topic by Sergio posted 12-18-2012 04:01 PM 1868 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Sergio's profile


470 posts in 2688 days

12-18-2012 04:01 PM

Hello dear Jocks,
I am having my first experiment with mineral oil (and any other oil) since I have only used sealants and varnish for finishing.
I have made this muddler for caipirinha ( to see what caipirinha is go to this: ) and sanded it to 600 grit. I took care to really sand it in proper way but from the pictures you can see a big difference between the two ends of the piece. One is very even,
the other has dark spots.
Any thoughts on how it happened and what should I do for the next trial?
Tks !!

-- - Greetings from Brazil - --

11 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3573 days

#1 posted 12-18-2012 04:48 PM

Well first of all Mineral oil is not really a finish it’s just a way to condition wood. I thinks Charles Neil has a very detailed explanation on this in this post ,hope this clears things up for you.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View pintodeluxe's profile


5654 posts in 2809 days

#2 posted 12-18-2012 05:09 PM

Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner is one to try for a non-film forming food-safe finish. The hyphens, like the advise is always free.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2244 days

#3 posted 12-18-2012 05:30 PM

Heat the mineral oil. It goes deeper, quicker when hot. Don’t put it in a microwave or boil it! I take out my wife’s crock pot (shhh, don’t tell her), fill it with water and then toss the bottle of mineral oil in it (heating the oil while still in the bottle)

Save your money on the commercial “butcher block” finishes. They are all either straight mineral oil, or mineral oil and beeswax. I make my own mineral oil/wax mix in a double boiler. Once I apply it, I pour it back into the mineral oil bottle it came from. The next time I need to use it, I just heat the bottle in the crock pot full of water again.

To Jim’s point, mineral oil is not a finish. There is a debate over the food safe properties of film building finishes, but I believe (and the science supports) that once a finish is cured, it’s food safe. I like to use mineral oil it because I don’t see the point in wasting a film building finish on something I am going to hack up with a knife then scrub vigorously with soap and hot water. The cutting board will need reapplications of something regularly. You can’t really reapply a film building finish, so at some point the board will end up slathered in mineral oil anyway. Save yourself the hassle upfront and skip the thinned poly.


View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2357 days

#4 posted 12-18-2012 09:36 PM

Mineral oil is a laxative, not a finish. Nyuk nyuk

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Sergio's profile


470 posts in 2688 days

#5 posted 12-19-2012 08:30 PM

Well well, sorry, it is not finishing, so I am conditioning the wood, that´s clear. It is also clear that I don´t intend to drink the mineral oil, so I will not run to the ” throne” as Clint has suggested.
The question however remains: Why did I get those dark spots?

-- - Greetings from Brazil - --

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2282 days

#6 posted 12-19-2012 11:08 PM

That is called blotch. It happens when different densities of wood are exposed to liquid. The softer stuff soaks up more. They sell conditioners for that.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View rum's profile


148 posts in 2581 days

#7 posted 12-20-2012 12:10 AM

I believe that it was likely due to inconsistent sanding on the endgrain in this case (or at least that explained the difference between the two). I would bet that the blotchier piece wasn’t sanded down as far and so the open grain picked up more oil.

Your solutions here are to either sand less finely (yeah sounds weird but play along) and let it soak up a lot of oil all over then polish it out, this will definitely leave the end darker but probably more consistently so sand more and be careful to sand the entire end grain to a higher polish than the rest.

View Wildwood's profile


2305 posts in 2130 days

#8 posted 12-20-2012 01:41 AM

i do not think you did anything wrong, those spots are in the wood!

-- Bill

View ChesapeakeBob's profile


366 posts in 3479 days

#9 posted 12-20-2012 01:35 PM

Howard Butcher Block Conditioner says it is made of food grade mineral oil stabilized with vitamin E, beeswax, and canauba wax. Last night and by accident, I wiped a piece of teak with it and then, after I discovered what was on the rag, wiped the entire piece with more of the Howard’s. The results look great and feel great this morning! You just want to touch and rub your hands over the wood. Now my question is this: If I wanted to make my own version, say to use on teak in a boat cabin for instance, what proportions would I use and is mineral oil the right oil to be using? Would I just use an old pot on the stove?

-- Chesapeake Bob, Southern Maryland

View LikeWatch's profile


4 posts in 1867 days

#10 posted 06-06-2013 03:59 PM

Gorgeous cutting board – what type of wood?

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3644 days

#11 posted 06-06-2013 04:11 PM

these spots have nothing to do with your sanding- they are part of the natural wood. some natural and normal irregularities in the wood will cause some spots to be more absorbent than other areas causing these “spots” which are nothing more than density differences in the wood fibers.

unless you are going for the clean museum type look, I would leave those in and not worry about them, makes the wood projects remind us these are made of wood and are alive and warm and not plasticy and engineered.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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