I recently bought a solid oak table that has a care guide that states I need
to oil it occasionally but doesn't mention what sort of oil I need to use.
Would this be OK (the furniture wasn't from Ikea but I have to go there soon
anyway so could pick some up & its cheap):
Or maybe Danish Oil, Lard, WD40??
Our furniture maker friend reccommended the Osmo products, as sold here:
We have a maple work surface and window sill in the kitchen ,and he
suggested Osmo Top Oil.
(The guy who suggested this to us makes the bespoke furniture for 70m motor
cruisers in Holland etc, with price tags like telephone numbers, so that's
where he's coming from. The Ikea stuff was not on option as far as he was
The Osmo products are excellent but expensive - we use their floor
oil/wax on our oak floor.
I've used Ikea's furniture oil on various things and it's cheap, quick
and lasted well. However, the bottle pictured is what they used to
sell as chopping board oil. Ikea also sold tins of furniture oil that
was white in appearance and that's what I've used. On a kitchen table
we re-oiled it every year or so.
I did up a second hand oak table by sanding down, 3 coats of Colron Danish
Oil and a coat of Briwax.
To the OP:
I doubt the Colron oil is a premium product by any stretch of the
imagination, but the table was knackered and cost 25 quid, and it gave a
nice finish. In your case, get a decent Danish Oil perhaps, or Tung as
suggested - but try a bit on an out-of-sight area first and see how it
There are a few of relevant sorts of oil. Broadly these are "inert non
film-forming oils", "film forming oils" and "danish oils". You choose
the right group according to what you want, then choose a suitable
product from within it according to the product quality / cost /
Non-film oils soak into the wood (like most oils) and that's all they
do. This has two effects: it has an optical effect of making the wood
grain look "deeper" and generally far more attractive. Secondly they
stop other things (like water or dirt) soaking in there first. They're
not particularly robust, but then they're also easy to maintain by
continually re-applying. Kitchen woodware is an example, where the cook
(not the carpenter) happily re-oils the salad bowl a few times a year,
but knows that dishwashing it would be a bad idea.
Film-forming oils are the main sort of "finishing oil". The oil
undergoes some chemical change on the surface so that it forms a tough
outer skin. They're more resistant than non-film oils, but they're
harder to maintain. Repairing a damaged or worn finish is a refinishing
task, not just kitchen cleaning. Like the other oils, they also fill
the surface and improve the looks.
Danish oils (aka "varnish oils") are a mixture of oil and a small
proportion of varnish. They're like film-forming oils, but even more
so. They're generally tougher, but they don't soak in so well, so don't
look so good, don't enhance the grain as much and don't have as good a
Non-film oils are typically either mineral oil (aka medicinal liquid
paraffin from the chemist) or raw vegetable oil. Walnut oil (or many
nut oils) are good, olive oil is bad as it goes rancid. They don't
undergo deliberate chemical changes when applied. They're sometimes a
bad idea if you want to put another finish over the top later. I use
these for kitchen implements, but not much else.
Film-forming oils represent most of the finishing oils. They're usually
a modified non-edible vegetable oil. Originally linseed, most are now
tung oil. Linseed works but goes badly yellow after a few months.
They're best bought as commercial finishing oils (I use and recommend
Liberon's, but Rustins, Bollom, Briwax, Organoil and Osmo do reputable
ones too). These oils are already "dried" and "thinned". Drying is the
process of adding a chemical ingredient that enhances the oil's curing
when applied. In the past this might have involved cooking the oil for
long periods, these days it's usually a metal salt added cold. Some of
these driers have been toxic in the past, although the cured oil is
reasonably safe and certainly far safer than lead paint. The oils are
also too thick to work easily raw and so are thinned with solvents for
easier use. Don't try thinning your own oils without careful experiment
first -- sometimes there can be a reaction and the whole lot gellifies!
Varnish or danish oils are film-forming, with a varnish added to
enhance the film strength at the cost of some appearance. I use them on
tools and "rustic" work, but not on furniture. Screwfix sell a decent
cheap one that ought to be in the workshop. Some of these recipes also
lead into the "long-oil spar varnishes", which are flexible varnishes
intended for ship's rigging that will bend in service. if you want a
real varnish though, it's generally better to look at modern poly-based
formulations, not the old oil varnishes.
Nearly all oils should be considered toxic when wet, but almost all
modern commercial oils are food-safe and toy-safe once properly cured.
They'll be labelled if you want to check.
Most oils should be applied "wet" (i.e. generously) but you must remove
all the excess within 1/2 hour or you'll end up with a sticky surface
that's hard to fix.
All oils, although usually the film-formers, may produce heat on
curing. Dispose of your rags carefully afterwards or they may
spontaneously combust (lay them out flat somewhere fireproof for a
day). Linseed in summer weather really will do this!
Raw linseed is no use for anything other than cricket bats (it dries
deliberately sticky) or as an ingredient into other things. If you want
to use it, at least use a boiled linseed.
Oils are a great finish for fine furniture, but they're not as robust
against spills as some other finishes. Think carefully about using them
for table tops with drinks on.
Ikea's Skydd is an overpriced non-film mineral oil.
Ikea's Behandla is a reasonably priced film-forming oil.
If it is a kitchen work table the usual recommendation is for "food
safe mineral oil". You can buy this at varying expense from various
retailers or very cheaply from a chemist under its more usual name of
Liquid Paraffin BP.
I assume the wood is already sealed/finished by the manufacturer. If
so mineral oil will always be a safe option.
"Tung Oil" is often an oil/varnish mix (as are many other "oils" such
as "Danish Oil", "Salad Bowl Oil" "Teak Oil" etc) and may not go well
with the existing finish.
Real Tung Oil has a very distinctive smell and is an absolute pig to
use as it requires sanding between each coat and takes about 8 coats
(with a few days drying between each) to get a good finish. It isn't
suitable for use over existing finishes.
Osmo Polyx-Oil is a varnish and not suited for use on existing
finishes. Osmo TopOil is also closer to a varnish than an oil and is
meant for unfinished wood rather than for maintaining already
That was my first thought when I saw it recommended by a manufacturer
but it's used for all kitchen woodwork as, unlike most vegetable
oils, it doesn't go rancid. Having used it for several years on a
large Beech "butcher block" table I have to say it works extremely
Applied to a clean surface it soaks in and the residue is simply
wiped off. It leaves the wood completely dry after about an hour
with no noticeable surface film. It is quite resistant to staining.
After application and standing for an hour or so the surface is not
at all greasy or tacky, and none of it comes back to the surface.
What's a "kitchen work table" ? If you mean some Dickensian room full
of sweating scullions day-in day-out then I might agree. A mineral oil
works OK here where you're continually scrubbing it and re-applying it,
but that's not usually the way we live now. In general though, this is
just too feeble a finish to stand up to everyday use without far too
I'd not advise an oil finishes for hard-working tables in general. For
a kitchen I'd probably use Rustin's Bar Top, a formaldehyde plastic
resin. Toughest thing you can apply at home and heatproof too.
If the wood is already sealed then hardly any oil finishes will be of
any use. Mineral oil certainly won't be and those that will (varnish
oils) still wouldn't be the best choice.
I've never heard of any such thing, nor have I found a single instance
where any reputable commercial "tung oil" was adulterated with any
non-tung oil (and I've looked hard). "Finishing oil" has all sorts of
source oils in it, but "tung oil" is IMHE just that.
Nor are finishing oils commonly oil / varnish mixes. These things are
common enough, but they're usually described by a more specific name.
"Salad Bowl Oil" is never (AFAIK) a film-forming oil, let alone a
"Teak Oil" is never an oil varnish mix and although some are film
forming, this is also unusual and not deliberate. Teak oil is best
avoided because it often contains surfactants to make it more easily
applied on an already oily wood, like teak. It does have some uses as a
non-film finish on oily tropicals, but only for these and a
film-forming oil is often a better choice anyway.
There's never any need to sand between coats on an oil finish. If there
is, your application technique is wrong. The one exception is when
you're also sanding wet-sanding the timber itself, but that's a
specialist finish in its own right.
Tung oil is admittedly a pig to use, hence my recommendation for a
That's an issue with oil finishes though, not specifically tung.
A table, in a kitchen upon which culinary preparation (work) takes
place. Also a place used for fine soldering when management is out of
A fair description, but I get let out occasionally.
It isn't? Foiled again.
Well has stood up to daily use preparing meals quite adequately for
about 5 years so far. Raw meat is usually cut on a separate board
but vegetables etc are prepared on the surface. It is also used for
pastry work and bread making. It gets wiped several times a day (a
skivvy, once trained, can do this in about 20 seconds, microfibre
cloths are a great boon to modern skivvies). About once a week it
gets a rub over with a stainless steel scourer and about once every
month or so a new coat of mineral oil. It doesn't take long, and in
any case skivvies are quite cheap so the labour cost is low.
Unlike surface hardening oils mineral oil does not create a film but
penetrates the surface a bit and acts as a barrier to water.
I've tried that on a chopping board as an experiment - it was
recommended to me and I was given a small quantity. It can't say it
was a success. Although it was very abrasion resistant, where knives
were used water got under the coating and discoloured the wood. In
the more modern kitchen where unwrapping the take-away and preparing
the Pizza for reheating is the most it will have to tolerate it is
probably quite adequate (and the speed with which it can be cleaned
would give more opportunity to get back to Celebrity Big Brother more
swiftly). It is also, I presume, proof against Lager spills but the
hard glossy plastic look was rather reminiscent of the "Little Chef"
school of decor.
Mineral oil works quite well on a number of commercial finishes as it
won't harm the existing finish but can help fill any small scratches
which may have occurred. It also wipes off the finish surface rather
than drying upon it. Without knowing what the existing surface
finish is or role of the table in question it is difficult to be more
I've got a couple of bottles in the garage one of which I think is
labeled "Tung Oil" and the other "Tung Oil Finish", both are Tung
Oil/varnish mixes. I'd get you the manufacturers names but I've only
just put the kitchen staff out there for the night and don't like to
disturb them once they are settled. The poor things do have to start
again at 05:00 so they can get the condensing boiler nicely blacked
I've used a product of American origin (but bought in the UK) called
"Salad Bowl Oil" which was most certainly a varnish.
I've got a tin of Sikkens Cetol Marine Teak Oil and if that doesn't
contain varnish then something else in it is doing a very good
imitation of varnish. Same goes for some Starbrite Teak Oil I've
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