Sealing flame-pattern birch with boiled linseed oil to show off the grain can darken the whole piece, not just the grain.

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Sealing flame-pattern birch with boiled linseed oil to show off the grain can darken the whole piece, not just the grain. If you want to keep the background hue of the wood light, use a product with soy oil, or at least less boiled linseed oil.

To demonstrate the differences shown above, we applied boiled linseed oil to the top-left quarter of the test board top left. Then, in the photo , below left, we applied Antique Oil (Minwax, minwax.com), which contains boiled linseed oil thinned with varnish, and Varathane Wood Conditioner, shown top right, (Varathane, 800-323-3584; rustoleum.com), made with soy oil. For a nondarkening topcoat alone or over oil, choose superblonde shellac, CAB-acrylic lacquer, or a water-based finish like the one shown bottom right.
—from the WOOD® shop