Greenwood After Care, Oiling & Baking

In the last blog of this series, we looked at seasoning, and how it concerns our greenwood carving projects. With that in mind we can now move onto any treatment we may with to apply to both enhance the aesthetic qualities of our work as well as adding a protective coating to help protect it from changes in humidity, read on as we explore one of these options in the use of oils.

Spatula soon to be oiled (Image Jay Jenner)


Ok, so once your project has seasoned and you are happy that all carving and abrading has been completed you may like to choose from a variety of oils to help protect it from the elements. There are a few you can choose from, each with their own properties. Oil is easily applied; it will bring the grain to life and offer a protective shield from the elements at the same time. For utensils, bowls, plates, and mugs etc food grade oil should be used so that it is safe to use with food and drink. Vegetable oil, walnut oil, raw linseed oil can all be used. Avoid olive oil as this can go a little rancid after time. Here follows some examples of oils you may wish to consider.

Spatula with 4 coats of cooking oil applied (Image Jay Jenner)

Vegetable oil can be applied with a cloth and worked into all areas of your project. Allow a little time for the oil to soak into the grain and dab off any excess with some kitchen towel, before a little rub with a clean cloth.

Cooking nut oils like walnut or sesame are great way to adding a rich hue of colour to your creation. Warming it up a little can help with it penetrating the fibres. Apply 2-3 coats allowing it to dry between coats. Allow then to cure, in the case of walnut oil this can be several months.

Raw linseed oil is transparent and penetrates the wood well but can take a several months to dry. For best results apply 2-3 coats one week apart and allow do dry for several months at room temperature.

A selection of cooking oils offering different finishes

It is good to try a small area first to ensure you are happy with the result as the oil can enrich the colour of the final finish. You may wish to use this to your advantage in choosing a darker oil to enhance your carving in this way.

Boiled linseed oil is a great option for axe handles, tool handles and cures quickly within two weeks. It should not be used on anything which comes into contact with food as the heavy metal dryers can leach out and are poisonous. Caution should be expresses with any wet rags used as the drying agents can heat up and self-combust in just a few hours. To avoid this either dispose of them in a fire safe site or lay your rags in a safe place outside to cure before disposing of them.

Boiled linseed oil great for tool handles, but never for anything used with food & dispose of rags safely

Applying oil will lift the fibres of the wood and if you have taken the time to create a fine finish you may wish to readdress it. Apply a little of the oil you have used to the wet and dry grit you finished with (400 grit min) and make just enough passes to regain a smooth finish and wipe dry with a paper towel. I store my oil rags in an air tight container. Express caution with boiled linseed oil.

Axe care with boiled linseed oil (Image Jay Jenner)


Baking is a process heats and opens up the pours of the wood to draw in more oil that it ordinarily would at room temperature. The utensil will then not reach such high temperatures again and so should help to retain the oil in the wood for longer. When it dries out over time you can simply repeat the process.

Spoon seasoned and ready for baking (Image Jay Jenner)

To achieve this, preheat the oven to nearly 200°C and place the spoon on some grease proof paper on a baking tray at the bottom of the oven. Allow the utensil to heat until it’s almost too hot to hold. This may only take a few minutes, so it is best to check regularly. when ready I take it out of the oven and place it on a plate and proceed to fill the bowl to the top with cooking oil. Keep topping up as the oil is drawn into the wood. While you are waiting, coat the rest of the utensil with the oil while it is still hot. When you are satisfied all the oil that can be, has been drawn in, wipe the excess off and allow to stand until it feels dry enough to handle.

Hazel spoon after baking & oil applied and allowed to soak in (Image Jay Jenner)

In the last of the series of these blogs we will look at some other options for final finish, from spoon butter, paint, and patina. We will also cover things to be mindful of in the day to day using your creation.

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