There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a wood finish for a project. Sometimes you need to choose a specific finish for that particular wood to highlight it. This is specifically the case in oil finishes because each oil gives the wood a different look. For a light-colored wood like ash, you need to be careful of which oil you apply to it. If you are working with ash and need to know which oil suits it the best, then you are in luck. In this guide, we will talk about what kind of oil is best for ash wood.
The oils best suited for ash wood are Danish oil and Teak oil. Both of these are a mixture of different oils. Danish oil contains a mix of tung oil and linseed oil with resins and varnish. It also has a drying agent that helps it dry faster than most other natural products. Teak oil contains a mix of tung oil, linseed oil, mineral oil, and petroleum distillate or thinner. Both these oils are excellent for ash as they don’t only not ruin its colour but also protect it from the inside out.
Most people will just opt-in for a wipe-on poly finish. However, not all woods react similarly to every finish. Some woods get accentuated by a few finishes while others just don’t take well to them. To avoid this, always check the kind of wood it is, whether it is softwood or hardwood, and whether it has large pores or tight grain. These factors will determine what kind of traditional finish works best for that wood. Modern finishes are pretty much universal, but you can’t compare them with traditional finishes.
Best Oils for Ash Wood
1. Danish Oil
Danish oil is very popular amongst woodworkers for its fast drying times and amazing durability. It is one of the most recommended oil finishes by professionals. It goes well with ash wood, it slightly deepens the blonde colour of the lumber. Not to mention Danish oil also contains resins and varnish which goes beyond the protection that you get from just normal oil. The varnish and the resins harden as they dry while the oil reinvigorates the wood from inside.
This makes Danish oil the perfect partner for most woods out there, including ash. One of the best brands in the market for it has to be Rust-Oleum’s Watco Danish Oil Wood Finish. They have different shades available, they have the natural one which keeps the wood’s natural colour intact. If you want to darken the wood they also have an option for a darker tone.
2. Teak Oil
So there is a lot of confusion surrounding Teak oil that we should address. Teak oil is not made out of Teak, it is called so because it goes really well with the lumber of the Teak tree. Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing related to Teak at all, instead it has boiled Linseed oil, Tung oil, Mineral oil, and Petroleum Distillate. Teak wood is naturally water-resistant, rot-resistant, and insect repellant lumber.
Teak oil works well with ash because it is light colored and carries a very slight hue of amber in it. This complements the already blonde colored lumber from the ash tree. The Star Brite Premium Golden Teak Oil is one of the best products in the market at the moment. Its slight golden hue works really well with ash and really accentuates the grain pattern of the wood.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Oil Ash Wood
When working on any lumber, you need to prep it before oiling. The same is the case with ash wood, you need to prepare it before you apply oil to it. For that, you will need sandpaper from 80-grit to 180 or 240-grits. Also, you need clean rags and a microfiber cloth.
Step 1 – Preparing Ash Wood for Oiling
To start off you can either use a random orbit sander or a sanding block. Take your 80-grits of sandpaper, and start working on the wood. This will remove the tool marks and scratches from the surface. If you are using a random orbit sander, then the time to sand it will be significantly reduced. With a sanding block, you will need to take your time and really sand the ash properly.
Once you are done sanding with the 80-grits, you move up to 120-grits. This will make the surface of the ash wood smoother and remove the marks from the 80-grits. Once that is done, move to 180-grits and you can stop here if you want. 180-grits is ample enough grits, but you can go as high as 240-grits of sandpaper. However, anything higher than that is not recommended since it clogs the pores in which the oil will be absorbed from.
Step 2 – Applying Oil to Ash Wood
Take a microfiber cloth and wipe off any dust from the wood that you can. Wipe it off properly and then take a clean rag and pour some oil on the rag or directly on the surface of the ash wood. Use your rag to spread it across properly, every inch of the wood needs to be covered in oil. Pour more oil if needed and keep spreading the oil using the clean rag.
Note: Wipe off any excess that you feel is just sitting atop the wood.
Step 3 – Applying Another Coat
Wait overnight after applying the first coat of your oil, usually, one coat of oil is enough. However, if you feel that the wood isn’t properly saturated with the oil you can apply another coat. Just repeat the same step as above and properly spread the oil all across the surface of the ash wood. Use a rag to wipe off any excess afterward.
Step 4 – Cleaning off the Sweat/Excess Oil
Wait again overnight for the wood to get properly saturated with the oil. Once it does it will start to form droplets of oil on the surface. This is excess oil that the wood has expelled, woodworkers often term it as sweating. Take your clean rag and wipe off this excess, you might need to repeat this process again depending on how much oil the wood is saturated with.
With this you have successfully applied an oil finish to your ash wood. You can now apply another clear coat on top if you feel like it. You can also buff the surface with wax if you really want to make it glossy or semi-glossy.
Benefits of Oiling Ash Wood
Ash wood is a very hard and dense wood, so it is very durable and strong. However, it lacks any form of water resistance, which makes it susceptible to rot and water damage. To prevent the ash wood from getting damaged by moisture, you need to apply a suitable oil finish over it. The benefits of oiling any lumber also apply on ash as well, it replenishes the natural oils of the wood as it dries.
Oil also hardens to a film when dried and cured properly, this allows it to repel any water that falls on its surface. Ash wood, in particular, requires water protection, something like Danish oil which is best for the wood is perfect for that purpose. Not to mention ash wood is a very light colored wood, almost blonde in shade. Applying an oil not only brings out and accentuates the colour, it also makes the grain more prominent.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use Linseed oil on ash wood?
Yes, you can use Linseed oil on ash, Danish oil and Teak oil, both already contain boiled linseed oil in their ingredients. So it is perfectly fine if you just want to use boiled Linseed oil on your ash. You shouldn’t use raw Linseed oil though as it can take double or triple the time to dry and cure properly. It also makes the surface slightly sticky as well.
How often should you oil ash?
Depending on the conditions, you should oil ash wood either every year or two. If it is under sun exposure and looks very dry, you can apply oil before a year too.
Does Danish oil make ash wood dark?
Danish oil retains the natural colours of the wood. However, when it is under the exposure of the sun, ash that has been finished with Danish oil or Tung oil starts to darken in hue.
Ash wood is very forgiving, it is also very durable. Though the only thing it lacks is water resistance. This is why oiling is a very good idea if you are someone who prefers traditional finishes over a wipe on poly or varnish. You can always apply a coat of a clear coat finish or beeswax over your traditional oil finish if you feel like it.