Even a seemingly simple question is never so.
What is the required result?
Is it a vast factory floor or a valuable carving?
Do you want protection from water?
Do you want a quick, easy finish?
Do you want to show off the grain?
Are you going to wax afterwards?
Does it need to be traditional?
Does it need to be colourless?
Do you want it cheap?
Will it be in contact with food?
On oak I like linseed oil. It's a really attractive natural finish. It isn't
colourless, You won't want to eat it but it won't poison you. It's easy to
apply even in a dusty shop or site. It isn't the quickest oil treatment but
it is very inexpensive.
If you have the time I like to use raw linseed oil to start with, because
the very slow drying time means it keeps soaking in and soaking in for
weeks. I finish with a thinned coat which has some driers in it to make it
all go off, either 'boiled' oil or mix in a good hit of Danish Oil.
Things to remember - wiping off is the most important part of the process.
Dilute the oil if it is too heavy to wipe clean off the wood. Boiled oil
isn't normally boiled, it has driers (oxidising catalyst) in it.
The warnings on the tin which say that the bizarre and spooky phenomenon of
'spontaneous combustion' may occur are to be taken very seriously. I once
chucked a lot of oily rags and sanding dust in a bin bag and two days later
I looked up from the newspaper and noticed my house was on fire.
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