Best Wood Preservation Techniques


Autumn is a great time of year. While you’re putting away the outdoor tools and equipment, you can put a new coat of waterproofing on wood surfaces that are exposed to the elements.

wood preservationMy dad used a mixture of boiled linseed oil and turpentine — 2:1 — as both a waterproofing mixture and when refinishing antique furniture pieces. First, he’d go over the wood with very fine steel wool. Then he’d apply a thin coat of the oil and turpentine mixture and rub it in well with a soft cloth, removing any excess liquid. One piece of furniture — a 300-year-old tavern table — must have had 20 coats of finish on it. It has the most marvelous velvety patina!

Do you have a favorite furniture refinishing or preservation technique? Please share it in the comments section, below. 

8/14/2015 12:18:51 AM

Aside from proper disposal or airing out of rags, the thing to know about using boiled linseed oil and turpentine mixture is that one MUST wipe off any residue before it becomes tacky. At first the mixture gets sucked into the wood, but that process slows as the outer layer of wood gets saturated, and the wood has had enough. Start with a higher percentage of linseed oil, say 3 to 1. As it penetrates less with application, increase the proportion of turpentine, up to 50/50 and remember to wipe off anything that does not absorb within a few minutes. Use a soft clean rag for that--and you are finished until next year, when you will just need a 50/50 touch up coat, most likely. And remember to wipe away that residue before it gats tacky and then hardens. If you are concerned about mold you can inquire at the paint store about what they recommend as a fungicide for a gallon of paint. Use that in about a quart of your linseed oil/turpentine mixture.

Nathalie Roy
1/27/2011 8:13:49 AM

I agree with security, old rags served for oiling purposes will catch fire if left tossed in a corner! My best friend lost her house this way, after letting her rags on the wooden balcony, not knowing this fact...fortunately no-one was hurt, but they sure cried over the lost, they had built it from old recycled wood and material. They've rebuild it since, nicer even, but have know a fear of fire....don't play with safety, even kitchen oil, or motor oil will get rancid and can catch fire, cause it heats up while oxydizing.

1/4/2011 7:53:49 PM

To clean the gunk off wooden kitchen cabinets, we use 0000 steel wool soaked with butchers wax. Be gentle until you know just how much pressure you can apply without removing any of the finish. Go in the direction of the grain, of course. Keep the steel wool plenty moist with wax. Let dry a bit before buffing with a clean, soft rag. Takes some effort, but worth the results! To refinish our old pumpkin pine floors, we clean them well (if really dirty, use turpentine with 0000 steel wool). Apply Waterlox (for boat decks). It's water repellant, but does not form a permanent seal like polyurethane that eventually can crack and yellow. Let it dry completely!!! Lasts a couple of years depending on wear.

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