Oil vs. Film, Choose Your Finish
Goes on with a cloth: Comparable to drying oils for ease of application, these mixtures also penetrate the wood. The difference? They leave an extremely thin, soft surface film. As with oil, soak the surface evenly before you wipe away the excess. When discarding rags, follow the same cautions as for drying oils.
Minimal protection, but easy to fix: Adding varnish to these mixtures doesn't significantly increase a project's abrasion, moisture, or heat resistance compared with boiled linseed oil. But the very thin build makes oil/varnish blends easy to repair or retouch. Just smooth over light damage with 280-grit sandpaper and apply a fresh coat.
Success secrets: Drying oils and varnishes are compatible with each other when mixed, so you can create your own blend by combining equal parts of boiled linseed oil and any oil-based varnish. Increase the percentage of varnish to increase gloss, hardness, and moisture resistance. As with oil, flood the surface thoroughly and recoat places where the mixture soaks in completely. You even can use oil/varnish blend as a lubricant while finish-sanding with 600-grit or finer sandpaper, wiping away the surplus.
Try it on indoor projects wehre you'll want a soft, satin sheen, or a simple, rustic finish as on a simulated antique. Because it's easy to repair, you also can use it on shop-made workbenches and on tools such as the deadblow hammer shown above right.
But avoid it for surfaces you'd rather protect against wear and abrasion instead of constantly repairing the finish, as on dining tables or chairs.
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