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Best Oil for Preserving Wood Handles?

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by K Williams, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. K Williams

    K Williams

    Nov 17, 1998
    What oils are best for preserving and treating wooden axe handles? Thanks.
  2. smasak


    Jun 19, 2009
    Boiled linseed oil has always worked well for me. I treat my handles about once a year. The first application is always a few coats and a week or so to dry. The maintenance applications are just one coat and then good to go.
  3. Square_peg


    Feb 1, 2012
    I think BLO gets into the wood best and actually strengthens it. But I prefer the finish to be tung oil. Tung oil forms a protective coating, looks better and is a little grippier. My current routine is a couple coats of BLO followed by a couple coats of tung.
  4. killa_concept


    May 19, 2009
    Yeah, BLO is the way to go though I'm personally of the opinion that oil should be only be used to hydrate and keep the wood supple, not coat or seal it. Coating/Shellac should be reserved for pre-sale handles, where they might sit on the shelves or in a warehouse for long periods of time and thus need to be preserved from moisture/warpage, etc.

    Any sort of coating in my opinion, either makes the handles feel tacky or too grippy, hampering my swing and causing unnecessary hot spots. My personal application method is to drench the handle in BLO, let sit for 15-30 minutes, wipe off the excess, then let dry for a day or two. I'll then go over the handle with a 00 steel wool pad until I get it down to bare wood.

    If I had the time, forethought or used my axes often enough to require constant handle replacement, I might consider setting up a container of Linseed (maybe raw instead of boiled) to let handles sit in until needed. I've heard of a few blacksmiths doing this for their hammer handles and I'd assume it must be pretty effective...
  5. smasak


    Jun 19, 2009
    I'm not sure, but I think raw linseed oil will spoil or go rancid.
  6. cooperhill


    Nov 14, 2011
    I use raw linseed oil and never have had a problem with it spoiling. I built a soaker using 3" PVC pipe and it's worked well. It's overkill but I like it's ease of use. I use it after hanging never before.
  7. K Williams

    K Williams

    Nov 17, 1998
    Is teak oil any good?
  8. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    I've had good results using tung oil. Seems to stand up to wet weather better than BLO.
  9. gunfixrjoe


    Aug 11, 2011
    I also agree with tung oils use. Treated a hawk handle with it over a decade ago and it still looks and feels the same.
  10. Ernest DuBois

    Ernest DuBois

    Mar 2, 2013
    Teak oil does not dry so don't use it. Tung oil has many advantages, in this case it protects against water better than linseed oil. If the object is to get the best protection then boiled linseed oil defeats this purpose. The protection from the oil comes mainly from it's ability to penetrate deeply into the wood. Because the metallic additives in boiled linseed oil are there to speed the oxidation process it means the oil will not be able to penetrate as deeply as pure warm pressed linseed oil. The choice being between tung oil and pure linseed oil then, the rest depends mainly on your usage.

  11. Astrogator


    Mar 19, 2012

    Here is a bit of doggerel that I read somewhere:-

    "Boiled Oil forms a skin, Raw Oil sinks right in".

  12. Operator1975


    Sep 24, 2010
    Raw is the way to go.
  13. Frank-New Zealand

    Frank-New Zealand

    Jan 16, 2012
    I always use raw linseed and tung oil in equal parts with a dash of turps. Very user friendly, works well, lasts, and smells great. Try it...you'll like it.

    regards ...Frank
  14. kksalm


    Sep 21, 2012
    Preaching old school here. Pete Culler wrote in the first Mariner's Catalog an article titled "Old Ways Work". His formula for what he called Deck Oil is amazing. 8 parts boiled linseed oil, one part turpentine and one part pine tar. I mixed up a batch about thirty years ago and seriously, if you want an answer to your question including the word best, Pete Culler's deck oil is the best. Pete Culler is an awesome read, the real deal, check him out and find, old ways work.
    Have a nice day
  15. RobKevlar


    Dec 4, 2012

    I like this guy's method
  16. Double Ott

    Double Ott Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 3, 2011
    He would have more creditability if he knew what tools he was talking about. He has a mattock in his hands and incorrectly calls it a pulaski axe. He then goes on to incorrectly give the background of the mattock, again referring it to a pulaski axe.

  17. KingKoma


    Feb 2, 2012
    I prefer raw inseed oil because I want as deep penetration in the wood as possible and it takes time for the oil to disperse. I apply it over and over untill it wont soak up anymore and the handle starts to loose the look and feel of wood, I guess its a composite at that point. I see alot of people disliking that finish but for me, once the surface is hardened, its neiher slippy or tacky plus it works well with gloves and for me thats important. The only downside I see is that it takes a long time, the old adage of "Apply once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, and once a year for the rest of your life" I find pretty accurate and Ive seen references to it taking up to 6 months to get a solid surface.
  18. Ernest DuBois

    Ernest DuBois

    Mar 2, 2013
    Six months and then it's only dry feeling but the penetration continues if it is pure linseed oil. In some uses linseed oil will take up to 80 years to completely oxidize.

  19. KingKoma


    Feb 2, 2012
    Yes, because when the surface oxidizes the oil underneath it cant get much air contact. I wonder if the wood gets more brittle as the oil hardens? Does it turn crystalline?
  20. RobKevlar


    Dec 4, 2012
    Yea I think a couple of people called him out in the comments. He mentions it in a later video.

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