finishing using linseed oil

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Forum topic by cmoored posted 05-19-2014 03:40 AM 3110 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 1708 days

05-19-2014 03:40 AM

Topic tags/keywords: stain finishing linseed oil

Good Afternoon All!
I have ahead of me a task of staining and finishing a few unfinished pieces of pine furniture. I am a newbie at staining and finishing so I have some questions that way I can do it right the first time.
First I want to stain the wood with a cherry stain(minwax).
Should I use a pre-stain?

After the stain dries and I get the desired color, I wanted to finish it with Linseed oil. Should I sand the stain before applying the boiled linseed oil?
But my I want the finish to be more protective. Can I apply polyurethane over the boiled linseed oil?

These pieces of furniture are being used for a computer desk, so I would like it to be able to handle possibly putting drinks on top without having to worry about rings.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

8 replies so far

View nlartist's profile


34 posts in 1737 days

#1 posted 05-19-2014 07:02 AM

I would put the urethane directly over the stain. If you stain it the colour you desire you should not have to sand before applying the finish. I would not bother using the linseed oil.

View Ted's profile


2875 posts in 2450 days

#2 posted 05-19-2014 07:14 AM

I would definitely use a pre-stain conditioner. Pine tends to be very blotchy when stained. The conditioner will help prevent that and make it stain more evenly.

I agree with nlartist, polyurethane is better suited for a work desk. 2 or 3 coats, lightly sanded between with 150 sandpaper or fine sanding sponge, will give you a durable finish that won’t leave rings.

I find wipe-on poly to be the easiest to work with.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View Fettler's profile


200 posts in 2236 days

#3 posted 05-19-2014 10:10 AM

IIRC, stains typically are alkyd based and i would assume linseed oil would have weak adhesion to that. Polymerized linseed oils might provide slightly better adhesion but i wouldn’t bet on it. You could:
A) finish the item with just linseed oil. Pine ages beautifully but linseed oil is a little yellow. A polymerized linseed oil should produce a good finish.
B) pre-condition the pine with a “wash-coat” of shellac (it’s an oily wood prone to streaks) before staining (may require multiple coats) and finish with a “finish”. Most popular finish is polyurathane because it’s so easy to work with and is super durable. Spray lacquer is also very forgiving because it’s an evaporation finish and a can of deft semi-gloss is cheap. Just make sure whatever finish you use to knock down the “nubs” with like 400 grit sand paper.
C) apply a finish directly to the wood. This is my suggestion as there is less to go wrong.

The purpose of using an oil is to get the wood’s chatoyance to show. With a pine i’m not sure there’s much there to show off.

Black rings are caused by moisture hitting the wood. White rings are probably caused by heat (like a coffee mug). Multiple coats of poly are probably your best bet.

FYI this book is a great resource for finishing. Also check with your local woodcraft for finishing classes.

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

View Wildwood's profile


2529 posts in 2373 days

#4 posted 05-19-2014 11:17 AM

Agree with previous postings would use either Minwax pre stain wood conditioner or shellac would work before staining pine. Definitely skip the BLO and go with poly top-coat after pre staining or shellac and staining.

JMHO, since going with a Minwax cherry stain would go with their pre stain conditioner too. I can never remember which can or spray can of shellac is a 2 lb cut.

Although most cans of BLO contents list 100% linseed oil, not sure what is in the stuff. Would worry about it causing problems with pre-stain, stain and or gumming up my poly top coat.

-- Bill

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5236 posts in 2732 days

#5 posted 05-19-2014 11:18 AM

I can’t see the need for the linseed oil in this case, best off to skip it and go straight to the varnish.

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

View Finisherman's profile


227 posts in 2088 days

#6 posted 05-19-2014 04:59 PM

I agree with the above postings. Linseed oil is an unnecessary complication. Polyurethane doesn’t like to adhere to other finishes, especially if they are not fully cured. Prior to applying a pre-stain conditioner, wet the surface with a liquid like mineral spirits, VM&P naphtha or lacquer thinner. This will give you an idea of what the finished surface will look like. If blotching is a problem, you can use either Minwax pre-stain conditioner or a washcoat of dewaxed shellac to control the blotching. Otherwise, just use the stain to achieve your colour and follow that with two or three coats of your polyurethane. Finally, since finishing is new to you, you’d probably do well to test your finishing system on a scrap of the same wood that you used to construct the project. As Charles Neil said, “test your finish on scrap or scrap your finish.”

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 2174 days

#7 posted 05-19-2014 09:52 PM

Use a pre-stain, that pine will be blotchy.
Don’t worry about the linseed oil, I see no reason to use it in this situation.
Wipe-on oil based polyurethane is a great place to start. It is easy to use and will give you a good durable finish.

Just a note, if you ignore all of us (I have ignored plenty of warnings in my life) and do end up using Linseed Oil, be careful with the rags you use to apply it. THEY WILL SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST AND BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN. That warning on the can is not a joke.

Good Luck.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View a1Jim's profile


117417 posts in 3816 days

#8 posted 05-19-2014 10:25 PM

I agree with the post that say don’t use linseed oil ,it’s an old type of finish that takes forever to dry use something more modern that will hold up well.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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