Using mineral oil for general finishing

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Forum topic by Furnitude posted 315 days ago 1670 views 0 times favorited 43 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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336 posts in 2133 days

315 days ago

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


1225 posts in 680 days

#1 posted 315 days ago

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


195 posts in 476 days

#2 posted 315 days ago

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


8476 posts in 2275 days

#3 posted 315 days ago

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


958 posts in 1317 days

#4 posted 315 days ago

Only on cutting boards my friend.

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

View pintodeluxe's profile


3322 posts in 1440 days

#5 posted 315 days ago

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

491 posts in 666 days

#6 posted 315 days ago

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.

-- Mark Smith, Tracy, CA.,

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1420 posts in 988 days

#7 posted 315 days ago

Hie thee to Amazon, and order Flexner On Finishing.

-- Clint Searl.............We deserve what we tolerate

View UncannyValleyWoods's profile


335 posts in 490 days

#8 posted 315 days ago

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.


View CharlesNeil's profile


1127 posts in 2497 days

#9 posted 315 days ago

oh my !!!

View Furnitude's profile


336 posts in 2133 days

#10 posted 315 days ago

Loud and clear! Thanks, guys.

-- Mitch, Also blog at

View tefinn's profile


1207 posts in 1063 days

#11 posted 315 days ago

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


336 posts in 2133 days

#12 posted 315 days ago

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

1420 posts in 988 days

#13 posted 314 days ago

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.............We deserve what we tolerate

View bondogaposis's profile


2480 posts in 978 days

#14 posted 314 days ago

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

-- Bondo Gaposis

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


112010 posts in 2203 days

#15 posted 314 days ago

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.

-- Custom furniture

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