Speaking of exotic woods, one of the most known ones has to be mahogany. It is a hardwood that is very expensive and also difficult to source. So when it comes to choosing an oil finish for wood as exotic as mahogany, one might feel concerned. There are many oils in the market made for wood, but which one will work best here? To answer this very question, we have worked on a guide to help you find what kind of oil is best for mahogany wood.
Teak and Tung oils are the best oil finishes for mahogany wood. Teak oil contains tung oil in the mix so they contain similar ingredients. Teak oil is one of the best oils for making wood water-resistant. It prevents water damage and also creates a hard film finish for durability. Tung oil is the same as it also hardens to a film finish while providing water resistance to wood. Mahogany is a very expensive wood so protecting it from water damage and scratches is very important.
Sourcing mahogany is an issue not because of its availability but due to having too many woods from the same family species. There are also substitute woods that also have the same name. However, most of the mahogany families share similar features so you can use either and it will still be very good. Most woods from the family are considered exotic too, so there is very little difference in price. The substitutes share similarities to the mahogany wood, but they are completely different species.
Best Oils for Mahogany
1. Teak Oil
Teak oil is a mixture of tung oil, Linseed oil, Mineral oil, and Petroleum Distillate. Some blends of Teak oil also have Naptha and Varnish in the mix as well. The Petroleum Distillate and Naptha both are used as thinners for the oils. This allows them to penetrate dense woods like mahogany much better. Because of that, this makes Teak oil one of the best oil finishes for mahogany wood.
The pure tung oil and polymerized Linseed oil give the mahogany a fresh look. Thanks to the Naptha and Distillates they become thin enough to penetrate the mahogany. This in turn allows the oils to replenish the wood’s dried-up oils, reinvigorating it. With Naptha instead of distillates used by some brands, Teak oil has the capability of drying faster.
Both pure tung oil and Linseed oil dry to a hard finish creating durable surface protection from moisture damage. While the varnish also prevents any damage from scratches and any such abuse. Overall for wood as exotic as mahogany, this kind of protection is necessary to ensure its long life.
The Star Brite brand Premium Teak Oil is one of the best in its class. It has UV absorbers that protect against sun damage above all the protection that Teak oil normally provides.
2. Tung Oil
If you are going for a purely traditional oil finish, nothing beats tung oil. Pure tung oil is one of the best finishes for mahogany wood for a good reason. Most oil finishes contain either tung oil or Linseed oil as a base. Even the Teak oil that we have mentioned above contains pure tung oil as well. Pure tung oil penetrates into mahogany, it accentuates the straight grain on the surface, while renewing its strength from the inside, preventing it from drying out and becoming brittle.
While pure tung oil is a tad bit hard to dry as it does not contain any drying agents. Most brands, however, do include a drying agent to accelerate the speed at which it dries. For an exotic wood like mahogany, tung oil creates a moisture-resistant barrier when it dries to a hard finish. While mahogany is durable and resists water-based shrinkage, warpage, and damage, it is still imperative to apply a finish that helps strengthen these qualities of the wood.
The Real Milk Paint brand’s Tung Oil is one of the best products in the market. It does not alter the colour of the mahogany and accentuates its beautiful look.
Step-by-Step Guide to Oiling Mahogany Wood
Mahogany is a very durable wood, it cuts well, sands well, and takes well to oil finishes. However, the fact is that it is expensive lumber that needs to be treated properly and carefully. Keeping that into consideration, we are going to tell you the best way to oil mahogany wood in this guide.
Step 1 – Preparation
Like any other wood, preparation is the key, even when it is an expensive wood like mahogany. First, you need to sand the surface so it can accept the finish better. Sanding will also even out the pores making the surface of the wood smooth. It removes any tool marks on the mahogany as well which might have appeared while working on it.
Since we are talking about wood like mahogany, it is best to use a sanding block for sanding. However, if you are short on time, you can use a random orbital sander. Start off at 80-grits all the way up to 180-grits of sandpaper, sand the surface thoroughly making sure not to stay in one place for too long of a period. As a last measure take a 240-grit sandpaper and sand it with the grain by hand.
Step 2 – Oiling the Surface (First Coat)
Take your oil of choice, whether it is Teak oil or tung oil, and pour some on the surface of the mahogany. If it is not a flat surface then pour some on a clean rag and spread it all across. If it is a flat surface then after pouring it directly onto it and using a rag spread it evenly throughout. Make sure you leave no dry spots and every spot is covered in a good amount of oil.
Wait for an hour or two and after that wipe off any excess oil that is on top of the mahogany. If you leave any excess oil, it will not dry and stay sticky.
Step 3 – Applying Second Coat
After you are done with the first coat, wait overnight for it to fully absorb and dry. Now instead of pouring the oil directly on the surface or soaking a rag heavily with oil, just use an ample amount. Soak your rag in enough oil and start rubbing the surface of the mahogany. Make sure to rub it over the wood and when you are done wipe off any excess oil that remains.
Note: You can apply as many coats of oil as you want, but give it enough time to dry before applying another coat.
Step 4 – Wiping off Excess Oil/Sweat
Once you have applied enough coats of oil on your mahogany, wait for around a day. If your wood has been saturated with oil, it should sweat off any excess. These are in the form of droplets at times that resemble how people perspire. You need to wipe this off otherwise it will make the surface of the mahogany sticky. Use a cleaning pad or a clean cloth to wipe off any excess oil.
Now you just wait for the oil to dry and cure fully so that it can harden to a film finish over the mahogany wood. If you feel like it, you can apply a film finish like poly or varnish over the oil finish as well. It will create another durable layer of film finish on top of the oil. It will prolong the life of your expensive mahogany furniture.
Benefits of Oiling Mahogany
Mahogany is a strong and durable wood, valued for its workability and durability. Although it is dense and durable, woodworkers do not have any trouble cutting or sanding it. It is very comfortable to work which makes it the ideal lumber. This is one part of the reason why it is so expensive and hard to source. Keeping that in mind, when you finish a project with mahogany, even if it is durable and water-resistant, you want to make sure you apply a finish to it.
Oiling will only further benefit the wood and prevent it from deteriorating due to drying out. It will protect the wood from absorbing moisture and give it renewed life. Most people enjoy the pinkish brown hue of the mahogany wood. Oiling it only accentuates that look making it even more appealing.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Can you finish mahogany with oil?
Of course, you can finish your mahogany wood with oil. It is one of the best finishes to apply to your mahogany wood if you want to protect it from moisture.
How often should you oil mahogany?
Mahogany should be oiled either between 6 months to a year depending on the conditions in which it is kept. If there is too much moisture and humidity in the region then it is best to oil frequently to protect it from water damage.
Does Teak oil alter the natural colour of mahogany wood?
No, Teak oil does not have any stains or ingredients that darken the colour of mahogany.
When it comes to wood as expensive and exotic as mahogany, it is right to be concerned when it comes to what choices to make. Whether it is what tools to use to cut it or what oil finish should you apply to it, it is best to know these things beforehand. If you had any confusion regarding the selection of the best oil finish for mahogany before, then just choose any of the oils mentioned above in this article.