Both sides of finishing

Q:

I finished my workbench top with several applications of Watco Danish Oil, top and bottom. I know it periodically will need re-oiling. Should I re-oil the bottom, too? You’re supposed to put equal finishes on both sides of a panel to prevent unvene moisture absorption. Will the unexposed bottom dry out like the top?
—Jim Culler, Bellville, Ohio

A:

Even after you apply several coats of oil/varnish to the top, Jim, the level of film finish build-up is too thin to create uneven moisture absorption problems, especially on a panel as thick as a workbench top. Just avoid repeatedly soaking the benchtop with water, which could swell the wood enough to produce checking when it dries.

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