With lots of wood finishes around, it may get harder to choose the right finish. The proper finishing can give your project a perfect look. It’s part of what separates an ordinary wood piece from superior furniture.
One of the popular oil finishes is the boiled linseed oil, as it can give your furniture that shiny look. However, you need to apply it correctly to get the right results.
This article gives you the correct info on applying boiled linseed oil and the number of coats you need. You’ll also learn safety precautions when using linseed oil. Read on!
How Many Coats Of Boiled Linseed Oil
You need to apply about three coats of boiled linseed oil. That’s because it needs to saturate the wood fibers fully. You can finish your wood project properly using this process. But ensure you lightly sand the surface to smoothen it after each coat.
As a variant of linseed oil, boiled linseed oil dries faster and is easy to use. It’s best for indoor furniture, floors, and beams. But it’s not very good for outdoor wood projects.
It’s important to note that you can’t use boiled linseed oil in place of wood preservatives. So if you want to use the wood piece outdoors, ensure you treat it. That will help it to be insect and weather-proof.
After applying the oil finish, you have to maintain your wood project within six months to a year. The time of reapplication depends on how often you use the furniture. An easy way to know when you can do this is once it starts to appear discolored and dry.
Clean the wood piece regularly to maintain the glossy look. And ensure you wipe off liquid spills. That’s to ensure they don’t penetrate the wood.
It’s important to know that boiled linseed oil is highly flammable. So you have to take precautions during and after you use it. Make sure you carry out the application in a well-ventilated area.
How to Apply Boiled Linseed Oil
Step#1: Prepare the materials and tools:
Before you start your project, prepare the tools and materials that are necessary to do the work. They include:
- Sandpaper: From 80 to 180 grit for old wood, and 320 for damaged ones. 120 to 180 or above will do for new projects.
However, you’ll need 400 to 600 grit sandpaper or grey Scotch-Brite pads to smoothen the wood after each coat.
- Mechanical sander
- Safety masks or respirators
- Cotton rag
- Stiff bristle brush
- Tack cloth
- A mixing container with an airtight lid
- A vacuum or dust collector
- Boiled linseed oil
Step#2: Prepare the wood:
You have to prepare your piece of wood before applying boiled linseed oil. To do so, sand and dust the surface properly. It ensures that the oil penetrates well.
Put on a respirator or safety mask before you start the process.
Depending on the state of the wood, use and continually adjust sandpaper from about 80 to 400 grit. You can use a mechanical sander for damaged or old wood.
Start with the coarse sandpaper before using the finer ones. Make sure you carry out this process well. That’s because the oil finish cannot hide scratch marks on the surface; it can only reveal them.
Next, remove any dust buildup with a vacuum. It does the job efficiently. But you can use a wet cloth to wipe it off if you don’t have one. You can also use a tack cloth for smaller projects. Compressed air also works well for dust removal if you have a sound exhaust system.
Please, don’t use a brush for this purpose, as the dust can end up on the wood again.
You can get a more even surface by raising the wood grains. Getting them wet and letting them dry is an easy way to do this. Ensure you don’t soak it. After that, sand it again with 220 grit sandpaper. It’ll get rid of raised fibers, and you’ll get a more delicate finish.
It’s usually not easy to know when to stop sanding, especially when you’re a beginner. However, it’ll get easier with experience.
But you can know when to stop by observing the surface. First, dust the wood, and then wet it (don’t let it soak). Now, look at it from different angles in reflected light.
Step#3: Apply boiled linseed oil:
After you prepare the wood, go on with applying the boiled linseed oil. Make sure you put on gloves before the application process. And there are two ways to do it.
The first way is to pour the boiled linseed oil directly on the wood. Then use a cotton rag to apply it evenly on the surface. However, this method gives you little or no control over the process. So you’re more likely to waste it.
Another way is to pour the oil into a bowl. Then dip a cotton rag into it and apply on the surface. It’s a better method, as it gives you more control over the application process.
It’s best to start applying hard-to-reach parts such as corners. That’ll prevent contact with other oiled parts later.
Ensure you apply the oil along the grain. You can also rub the cotton rag in a slow circular motion across it.
The first coat helps to saturate the surface. That’s why you have to ensure the oil soaks it. If it’s very dry wood, it’ll likely suck up the oil as you apply it. In that case, you have to continue reapplication till the surface is wet and saturated.
Ensure there’s no puddle on the surface as you apply. And clean off excess oil with a cotton rag.
Allow the wood to dry, but look out for oil bubbles and wipe them off.
Step#4: Apply additional coats:
The first coat won’t be enough for the finishing process, so apply additional coats. But make sure the previous one dries well before you apply the next. The drying time depends on humidity, room temperature, and the thickness of the layer.
Leave the wood overnight to dry properly. It’s best to store it in a warm room to hasten the process.
To check if it dried properly, feel the surface with your hand. If it’s sticky, then you have to give it more time to dry. If it’s slick or slippery and feels dry, then it is.
Now, sand the first coat lightly. Make sure you use 400 to 600 grit sandpaper for this. But you can also do it with a 400 grit Scotch-Brite pad.
Then, sand in the grain direction to get the best result.
After that, apply the next coat. For a great outcome, apply about three coats of boiled linseed oil. Please don’t forget to let each layer dry and then sand before the next. You don’t have to sand after the last coat.
Step#5: Let it dry:
Finally, allow the project to dry. It dries in about 1 or 2 days. But you’ll need to cure it completely. It takes about 30 to 45 days to do so.
It’s important to note that drying is different from curing. It dries when the oil evaporates from the surface. But curing helps it to harden and become tough. Boiled linseed oil creates a hard film when it cures, and it happens through oxidation.
While you can use the project after it dries, it’s best not to subject it to any tedious activity till it cures.
Safety Tips For Using Boiled Linseed Oil
When using boiled linseed oil, you have to be careful because it’s highly flammable. The application process may not pose any threat. But the soaked rags can build up heat and ignite.
Here are some tips that can be useful.
- Ensure you squeeze excess oil from the rag into the can.
- Always use metal containers to store boiled linseed oil. For temporary usage, you can use a plastic one but don’t forget to transfer it back.
- Ensure the storage container has an airtight seal.
- The storage area should be cool and far from any food items or flammable material.
- Emergency eyewash will come in handy in case the oil gets into your eyes. So keep it close to your work area.
- Don’t fold up the rag after use. Spread it out flat in a well-ventilated area and allow it to dry. Ensure it’s not close to any flammable item.
- Dispose of rags properly once they dry. You can also store them inside a metal container filled with water.
- Use gloves that can’t get damaged while applying boiled linseed oil. Dispose of it properly after it dries.
- Don’t forget to use respiratory protection to keep you safe from dust while sanding.
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when using boiled linseed oil.
About three coats of boiled linseed oil will be enough to give your wood project a perfect finish. So it can last for several months before needing maintenance. If you add wood preservatives, it can help your project last longer.
Applying boiled linseed oil to your woodwork is a great way to keep it shiny. The process can also restore it when it’s old.
However, don’t forget that it may pose safety hazards when you don’t take proper precautions. Ensure you let the materials dry properly before disposing of them.