Timber Finishes and looking after Timber Products

Timber Finishes and looking after Timber Products

Published: Sep 5th, 2019 12:09 AM
Categories: wood / finishes

Timber care is something that a lot of people neglect or forget about after they've purchased one of our Woodturned items so to help makes taking care of your bought item a little easier I thought I would put this little article together as a guide. Now, I am well aware that there are a lot of different ways to finish and protect timber, below is our way, that works for our products.

Timber care doesn't have to be a long convoluted process, but there are things that we should, and shouldn't do, and that care will depend on a lot of different elements, such as sun exposure, the timber species, and even the finish that was used on the timber.

Most timbers can be simply wiped with a damp, not soapy cloth to remove dust, much like dusting furniture.

Keeping timber out of direct sunlight will help to reduce discolouring particularly bleaching and whitening, but some timber species will change over time regardless of the finish used. Timbers such as Purple Heart will continue to darken and become a deeper purple over time and faster if exposed to direct sunlight. If the timber is finished with a UV Inhibitor this will greatly reduce the discolouring time.

Here are some finishes that you may come across on Woodturned items:

Wax: We use mainly a Bee's Wax, Carnuba Wax, or combination of Bee's Wax and Boiled Linseed Oil. Most wax can be easily repaired if damaged, but most of all, it feels nice to handle. Martin Saban-Smith of Hampshire Sheen has a great article on why he uses and prefers a Wax finish. Maintaining a Wax Finish is done by simply wiping gently with a clean cloth to remove dust and grime. Using detergents or cleaning agents may remove the wax in some cases, leaving an undesirable result, and possibly leaving the timber exposed. In most cases, and as long as you know what wax to use the wax can be replaced and repolished to bring back the lustre of the coating.

BLO (Boiled Linseed Oil): Linseed oil, extracted from flax seed, is one of the most useful natural oils. It makes for a great preservative of wood. It's used as an ingredient in paints, varnishes, and stains. Boiled Linseed Oil is used to seal timber, protecting indoor furniture and cabinets, and artist's use it as a thinner for oil paint. Over time BLO gets harder creating a great protective layer. Generally, using BLO, by saturating the timber will produce a pleasing golden glow, which over time will darken to an amber colour. Maintaining a BLO finish is achieved by simply wiping over with a damp cloth as with a Wax Finish, again without detergents. Unlike Wax, as BLO is usually used by saturating the timber, the piece can be handled more, and scratches will be less evident. A coat of BLO (as long as other finishes haven't been used on top of the BLO), will help maintain the finish once a year, and will only help the timber soak up more of the BLO. However, on some timbers, the finish can feel oily to the touch, and not feel nice to handle.

Oils: There is a large range of types of oils such as water-based ones and they are for both interior and exterior use. These finishes are similar to wax finishes only they are thinner so timber can absorb it much more easily than wax. Oil finishes are rubbed or brushed onto the timber like wax and they are easy to apply and maintain, though more coats may be needed than a stain because of how light and thin most oils are.

Polyurethane: Polyurethane is usually intended as finishing coat once a stain is applied, more often though they are used as a finish that is easy to apply and increases the appearance of the natural bare timber. Care for this finish is probably the easiest, and most durable, as essentially the finish seals the timber like a plastic coating. Wiping with a damp cloth like other finishes is usually the easiest, and you could use a soft soap to remove dirt, though Polyurethane can be easily scratched.

CA Glue (Cyanoacryolyte Glue): A CA Finish is very similar to Polyurethane, and a coating we often use on our pens.


Generally, cleaning and maintaining the wood products we sell and supply, only need to be cleaned with a soft cloth to remove dust. To remove built-up grime we recommend a damp cloth and gentle rubbing, as the majority of the finishes we use could be damaged if harsh cleaners and soaps are used. Though, we do try to use finishes that allow you to use (particularly pens, or products that would be handled often), without damaging them.

About the Author
Dennis Suitters
Dennis Suitters
Curator of Goats, Sheep, Children and AuroraCMS. Tamer of Wood.
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