Please could someone tell me the benefits of Boiled Linseed oil. I am
currently fitting out a new workshop & am looking to treat the wood with a
preservative. What are the benefits of the oil other it's nice smell
East Coast Nature Guides
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If you apply it correctly it hardens well, giving a good surface against
damp and water, but still lets air through, (it breathes, like Gore-tex)
so the wood dries underneath the oil.
It is cheap (relatively), takes pigment very well, so you can make your
own paint from it (by adding pigment and some thinner).
BUT: Do not put it on thick, then it never gets hard, and you have a
sticky surface for ever.
Not the linseed I've used. Doesn't "harden," but remains soft in the film.
Probably why it's used in paints - flexible. Oilcloth and linoleum are a
couple of examples of flexibility. Water and oil find seperate ways into
wood. You need a full surface finish to get good water rejection.
To harden the film, resin is added. Simple "natural" stuff or plastic like
urethane. Also contributes to the build on the surface, which helps reject
water. Even with siccatives to help it cure added, you don't want to put on
a thick coat of BLO, where the top skins, and the bottom remains semi-solid.
What wood do you want to preserve - that is not clear to me here. The framing
of the workshop? The bench? Your stock of lumber?
Boiled oil as a treatment is foodsafe. Salad bowls, other wooden food
implements, chopping boards and benchtops (I prefer to use olive oil there)...
It will somewhat protect many timbers from waterstain (but not all of them, and
only partially). It darkens wood, typically, and can add a 'glow'. Again, this
depends on the timber. If I use boiled oil on eucalyptus pilularis I am wasting
my time. Water goes straight through, I get black waterstain within minutes ...
on cypressus macrocarpa o.t.o.h. the water will sit on top of the boiled oil
finish for half an hour without leaving a mark (and it gives the timber a nice
sheen). All this is why you usually try out samples of finish on scraps before
putting any on a completed new piece: different finishes react differently with
As a protection against borer beetle or fungal rot boiled oil is a non event.
Get something else.
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Linseed yellows with age, is hard to apply and doesn't give a
hard-wearing surface. For general workshop use you're probably better
with a commercial Danish oil (like Liberon's), a long oil varnish mix.
For better work with oil finishes then use a commercial blended
finishing oil based on Tung oil.
For outdoor garden furniture, go with a commercial product with UV
sunlight resistance. I like the Australian Organoil range from
As always, don't apply oil too thickly or it will dry tacky and be a
problem to fix. In this weather just re-coat quickly with thin coats
instead - won't take long at all.
What against ? Oils have minimal protective qualities and no
preservative quality. If you want to protect the surface, go for the
oil+varnish mixes. If you want a minimally invasive finish, then use a
blended finishing oil (maybe with Danish oil over it), but don't expect
a pure oil finish to form an impervious skin over the timber.
You shouldn't need a preservative in a workshop, just fix the source of
damp or bugs instead. But if you do, maybe on timbers from a leaky roof,
then look at the commercial mixes of Fungal Death Brew.
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