Using mineral oil for general finishing

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Forum topic by Furnitude posted 10-11-2013 05:26 PM 2671 views 0 times favorited 43 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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380 posts in 3741 days

10-11-2013 05:26 PM

With the cold weather coming (and no heating or insulation in my shop), i’m thinking of ways I can still get finishing work done. I use mineral oil on cutting boards all the time and it occurred to me, why not use it for furniture as well. It’s cheap, easy to apply, keeps wood from drying out, has a nice satin-y surface and doesn’t create dangerous or flammable fumes. If i want more protection on top of that, i could always use wax. Can anyone comment on why that wouldn’t work? I realize there are different finishes for different effects and all that, but for projects where you were going to use BLO anyway, why not just use mineral oil?

-- Mitch, Also blog at

43 replies so far

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2288 days

#1 posted 10-11-2013 05:48 PM

I would never do that because mineral oil never dries and would probably leech out onto any piece of paper that was left on it. The projects would probable always feel oily, and the oil would probably cause more dust to stick to it. And mineral oil washes out easily, and provides virtually no protection.

-- Joel

View Finisherman's profile


227 posts in 2084 days

#2 posted 10-11-2013 05:53 PM

I strongly advise against the use of mineral oil as a finish for furniture. In fact, I would go so far as to say that mineral oil isn’t a finish at all. Mineral oil doesn’t cure. BLO and tung oil cure somewhat soft, but at least they cure. Applying mineral oil to a furniture surface is the same as not having any finish on the surface at all. Adding wax to the equation will provide a minimal degree of protection, but it will be inferior to any of the modern finishes.

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3883 days

#3 posted 10-11-2013 05:55 PM

as mentioned – it provides no protection whatsoever.

that said, I have used mineral oil on some smaller projects like spindles for similar reason you listed, and thinking back, I should have just use BLO or poly as it never really gave the projects any depth (not protection)

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

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2925 days

#4 posted 10-11-2013 06:25 PM

Only on cutting boards my friend.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View pintodeluxe's profile


5815 posts in 3047 days

#5 posted 10-11-2013 06:26 PM

I don’t even use raw mineral oil on cutting boards. It never seems to dry. The wax/oil blends with drying agents can be a furniture finish (for example Howards butcher block conditioner). However, it would need to be re-applied annually and offers no real protection against water stains, heat, scratching, or chemical solvents.

Lacquer dries via chemical reaction, so if you can get the shop up to 60 degrees, you can finish with it.

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

View Mark Smith's profile

Mark Smith

509 posts in 2274 days

#6 posted 10-11-2013 06:43 PM

How about this as an alternative, make some type of drying booth in your shop for finished projects. You could probably rig up some type of box system out of plywood that you would make as big as your anticipated projects and make it so it can be taken flat and stored up against the wall when not in use. Then use a small electric space heater in the box to raise the temp inside the box to dry your finish. You could even get fancy and insulate the box. Or for that matter, to keep it simple, you could probably even make the box out of the stiff foam insulation panels and seal the seems with duct tape. That’s probably even a better idea. Just make sure you use a good quality space heater with the element really protected so you don’t catch anything on fire.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2595 days

#7 posted 10-11-2013 06:44 PM

Hie thee to Amazon, and order Flexner On Finishing.

-- 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 UncannyValleyWoods's profile


542 posts in 2098 days

#8 posted 10-11-2013 06:50 PM

This is my preferred finishing method. If you wax it after application you have not problems in leaching and it makes it super easy to keep the wood looking nice. I hate petroleum based finishes. I go with as natural a look as possible and it works fantastic.

-- “If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses.” ― Lenny Bruce

View CharlesNeil's profile


2468 posts in 4105 days

#9 posted 10-11-2013 07:19 PM

oh my !!!

View Furnitude's profile


380 posts in 3741 days

#10 posted 10-11-2013 07:32 PM

Loud and clear! Thanks, guys.

-- Mitch, Also blog at

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 2671 days

#11 posted 10-11-2013 08:07 PM

I hate petroleum based finishes.” Mineral oil is a petroleum distillate.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View Furnitude's profile


380 posts in 3741 days

#12 posted 10-11-2013 08:19 PM

Charles, I realize you’re a finishing expert, so does your “oh my !!!” mean—that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard or he may be onto something?

For my part, the mineral oil idea is just that—an idea. I haven’t decided what I’ll do yet. More than likely, I’ll try it out. It might fail miserably. Then again, it might work for me. When someone says something probably won’t work, that’s a signal that I should try it out… I made a walnut edgegrain cutting board recently and put mineral oil on it. It doesn’t feel oily at all. I like how it looks. It’s time to experiment…

-- Mitch, Also blog at

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2595 days

#13 posted 10-12-2013 03:17 PM

I don’t think you’re looking for reliable information from experienced finishers; you’re just seeking approval for harebrained ideas. Well, at least one guy operates at your level.

-- 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 bondogaposis's profile


5148 posts in 2585 days

#14 posted 10-12-2013 03:26 PM

Any piece of furniture worth making is worth putting something more durable than mineral oil on it.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View a1Jim's profile


117416 posts in 3811 days

#15 posted 10-12-2013 03:48 PM

My guess is that you interpreted Charles comment correctly . Charles has an on line finishing class that is well worth the small monthly investment,It includes it’s own question and answer forum plus a whole library of finishing videos created just for his on line finishing class. I’ve learned a lot.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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