Linseed Oil & Wax: Comparing Three Brands

I’ve cooked up about 10 batches of linseed oil and wax in an attempt to make my own finish, but nine of those batches were unusable. Several batches were almost rock hard. Others were no different than thickened linseed oil.

One batch was perfect. But, of course, like an idiot I didn’t write down the procedure for that batch. I probably got distracted by a squirrel.

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Until I get the recipe nailed down, I continue to use three commercial brands: Allbäck Linseed Oil Wax, Tried & True Original and Heritage BeesBlock. All three are free of harmful solvents. 

The only difference among the products I have found is their viscosity (and their price). The Allbäck is like peanut butter and costs $61 per quart. Tried & True is like snot and costs $35 per quart. And BeesBlock is like a thinned linseed oil and costs $42 per quart. I suspect the difference is caused by how much wax is in the mix, but I can’t say for sure.

From top: BeesBlock, Tried & True Original and Allback.

I love these finishes because they are easy to apply, easy to maintain and they pick up patina quickly. In other words, they don’t offer much protection from life. But that’s the approach I have come to prefer for most of the things I make (when I get to decide on the finish).


Most people put these finishes on too thick. And they don’t remove enough when they wipe it down. Here’s how I apply them. I use a 3M woven grey pad to apply the finish. I like this pad because its slight abrasiveness helps smooth any rough spots, especially up around the spindles where it is hard to work with sandpaper or scrapers.

I put the project upside down on my bench and coat every surface I can easily reach rubbing the finish in. End grain will need extra finish because it will suck it up and leave the surface dry. After I coat all the surfaces of the piece that I can reach, I let it sit for 15 minutes.

Then I take a Huck towel (a surgical rag with no lint) and vigorously rub off any excess finish. I keep rubbing until the surface is dry.

Then I turn the piece over and finish the rest of the surfaces, let it sit for 15 minutes and then rub it with the Huck towel.

I look for dry spots, especially on the end grain, and add some more finish. When I’m satisfied, I let the piece sit overnight. Then I rub it vigorously with a clean Huck towel. The finish is done.

You can apply additional coats of finish if you like, or you can put the project in service. After about a year you might want to apply another coat. Or let nature take its course.

— Christopher Schwarz


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