Regardless of whether you are a professional joiner or a weekend carpentry enthusiast, it is highly recommended that you apply a natural wood finish to your projects as a final step of the production process. In this way, you will not only protect them from the natural elements and preserve their color and grain, but you will do so in a way that spares the environment and avoids further pollution. Here are five commonly used natural wood finish options to help you select the right one for your next project.
This is a hard natural substance produced by bees, which needs to be softened with liquid oil before it is applied. The exact wax-to-oil proportion depends on the oil brand. Beeswax will protect your joinery against stains and moisture and will leave a mild pleasant scent. Unfortunately, a beeswax coating is not very durable and will have to be reapplied on a regular basis. Moreover, the beeswax will alter the original color of the wood, giving it a pale yellow to copper brown tinge, depending on the thickness of the coating.
Derived from the seeds of the Asian tree with the same name, tung oil contains only natural substances and is 100 percent biodegradable. It is distinguished by its excellent sealant properties and the lovely, glossy finish it gives to wood surfaces. On the other hand, since its ingredients need to be imported, it is not inexpensive, and you will have to pay considerably more for it than other finish alternatives. Furthermore, tung oil must be mixed with turpentine or a citrus thinner prior to its application.
Note that many hardware stores sell “tung oil” finishes that contain no tung oil at all, but are rather made of entirely synthetic substances. Therefore, always check the ingredients tag before making your purchase. Also, avoid pre-mixed finishes. Instead, buy 100 percent pure tung oil and citrus solvent for a thinner.
Produced from the secretion of the female lac bug and dissolved in denatured alcohol, shellac is yet another natural wood finish you can use. Given that it is available in many shades that range from very light yellow to very dark brown. it will match almost any interior color design, giving your wooden furniture a warm, pastoral tinge. On the downside, a shellac coating is prone to wear and may trigger allergies in some people.
This is oil made from flax seeds, which will provide excellent protection for any wooden object. A coat of linseed oil will tinge the wood a light yellow color, but the grain will still show through perfectly well.
An alternative of this wood finish is the boiled linseed oil which contains petrol solvents and metallic agents. It is recommended that you refrain from using it if you want to live in an entirely natural and non-hazardous home environment.
Although a relatively expensive option, walnut oil is easy to apply, pleasant-smelling finish with good wood preservation characteristics. However, it may be a source of allergies, particularly in small children.