Linseed Oil

Linseed oil is a natural yellowish oil that is derived from seeds of the flax plant. Like tung oil, it is a penetrating finish that seeps into the pores of the wood and only forms a thin, soft film on the surface. As a result, it provides minimal protection against scratching, scuffing, staining, water, and water vapor. In fact, linseed oil is the least protective finish except for wax and non-drying or semi-drying oils such as soybean oil. On the plus side, it is easy to apply and yields a beautiful hand-rubbed look. This finish is most appropriate for decorative items such as turnery that are not subjected to a lot of wear and tear. Linseed oil is also used as the oil component in a variety of other finishes including varnishes and Danish oil.


  • Easy to apply and maintain.
  • Inexpensive and readily available.
  • Imparts a soft, lustrous sheen that accentuates the natural beauty of the wood.


  • Forms a thin surface film with poor protective qualities.
  • Cures very slowly and softly.
  • Yellows more than tung oil.

Brand Names

Note: Raw linseed oil is rarely used as a wood finish because it cures very slowly. Accordingly, most linseed oil products on the market employ metallic compounds or heat treatment to speed up the drying process. These products are usually labeled as “boiled” linseed oil.

General Finishes Outdoor Oil
Lin-Speed Gunstock Oil
Jamestown Distributors – Linseed Oil
Minwax Antique Oil Finish
Parks Pure Linseed Oil
USA Boiled Linseed Oil
Velvit Oil

Linseed oil is one of the easiest finishes to apply: just swab on a liberal amount with a rag, allow time for it to penetrate into the pores of the wood (5 minutes is usually sufficient), and then wipe off the excess before it gets tacky. Allow to cure overnight before applying additional coats. Three to four coats with sanding between coats is sufficient. Because linseed oil does not form a thick film on the surface of the wood, like varnish or lacquer, there’s no point in applying additional coats.