Where does the oil go?

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Forum topic by Ben_Durham posted 12-29-2014 10:50 PM 626 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 645 days

12-29-2014 10:50 PM


I assume this is the right place for this, forgive the maybe obvious question.

When reapplying oil after several weeks or months, where has the oil gone?

Are we replacing oil that has evaporated or replacing surface oil that has been slowly absorbed by the wood?

And whilst I have your ear, the depth that oil penetrates to, is this primarily dependant on the wood or the oil?


2 replies so far

View OSU55's profile


1039 posts in 1412 days

#1 posted 12-29-2014 11:36 PM

Depends on what “oil” you are talking about, but since even blo has driers in it, they pretty much work the same. Any finish will continue to shrink down for up to several months as they fully cure out. It depends on the finish and film thickness. Most of the shrinkage is complete after 15-30 days. Depending on the “oil”, it could continue to soak into the wood for several weeks until drying enough to stop, but most of the absorption depth is reached in 10-15 minutes during application. The wood will absorb more “oil” each day because the volatile solvents have flashed off and the wood can absorb more. So, you are right.

Depth of penetration is mostly a function of the wood and grain direction (end grain will soak up more), and the viscosity of the finish. Most of these finishes have fairly low viscosity, with a lot of thinner in them, giving better penetration. Thing is, penetration with no film build does not provide a lot of protection. If something just hangs on the wall, it’s probably ok, but if it’s something that gets handled it needs a film to protect it.

I’ve used most of the “oils” out there – watco, Danish, various “teak” or “tung” stuff. Most are actually some oil and some type of varnish, alkyd, urythane, others. I’ve found good ole poly thinned 50% with MS will act just like any of these “oil” finishes.

View bigblockyeti's profile


3581 posts in 1143 days

#2 posted 12-29-2014 11:39 PM

Depending on which oil finish you’re referring to, both. The oil is absorbed into the wood and the solvents from the finish are evaporating at the same time. As far as penetration, again dependent on both the finish and the species. Porous, soft wood with a thin finish will have substantial penetration, while dense, slightly porous wood with a heavy finish will have light penetration.

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