In the case of applying a finish on wood, nothing brings out the beauty of the grain, like oil. This is precisely the case in woods that are rather dull on their own. One such wood is maple which requires the assistance of a finish to really bring out its grain pattern. However, different wood oils have different effects on the look of the grain. Maple is not an exception, as using the wrong oil might ruin its natural gorgeous look. If you are not sure which oil works best, then check out this ultimate guide on what kind of oil is best for maple wood.
The oils that work best for maple wood are tung oil and linseed oil. Both of these are perfect for light-colored wood like maple. They really bring out the tiger grain pattern of the wood. Both these oils don’t darken or alter the colour of the wood a lot. They have a slightly amber hue, with linseed oil being more amber than tung oil. Although some people might want to darken the colour of the maple. In which case using dark tung oil will be more than adequate for the job.
Traditional finishes like oil not only give the wood a really aesthetically pleasing look but also replenish it. Oils get absorbed into the pores and revitalise wood and replenish the natural oils that dry off in time. Some oils also protect wood from the elements like moisture. However, oils don’t create a very durable film finish on the surface like some other synthetic-based finishes. Due to the replenishing qualities of oil, synthetic finishes use an oil base as well.
Best Oils for Maple Wood
1. Tung Oil
Tung oil is one of the best oils to use for maple wood as it brings out the tiger grain of the wood. However, that is not the only function that it serves. Tung oil has water-resistant properties and dries to film which is pretty durable. This is one of the reasons why most oil-based finishes already use it as one of the ingredients. It is also one of the main ingredients in Danish oil, which is one of the favourites of woodworkers.
While Danish oil is the most popular oil finish in the market for wood, we didn’t recommend it here because it darkens wood. It uses a darker tung oil which will make the light colored maple dark. To ensure that you retain the amber light colour of the maple, use pure tung oil. It has a slight amber hue that does not darken, instead, it brings out the beauty of the wood.
One of the best-selling tung oils in the market is Hope’s Pure Tung Oil. This oil dries to a film comparatively fast compared to others.
2. Linseed Oil
The second best oil for maple is none other than linseed oil. You can mostly find it polymerized or double boiled. This is because raw linseed oil does not dry easily and at times won’t dry at all. It leaves the surface sticky and takes a long time to cure properly. Polymerized or double-boiled linseed oil will dry comparatively quicker. Some brands of Danish oil contain it since every brand has different ingredients.
This oil has an amber tint to it which is more visible than tung oil. Linseed oil while making the maple slightly yellow really brings out that tiger grain. If you really want to bring out the beauty of maple then it is one of the best oils to opt for.
The Furniture Clinic Boiled Linseed Oil is the best option for wooden furniture. It has a slight smell to it as it dries, but once it fully cures, the smell will go away.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Oil Maple Wood
If you are planning on applying oil to any maple furniture or boards, make sure to prep it ahead. To prep, you will need sandpaper, you can use a random orbit sander if you want. However, you should hand sand on the last grit in the direction of the grain to get the best results.
Step 1 – Preparing the Maple
The first step before applying any finish to any wooden piece is to prep it. The first step to preparing wood for applying any finish is to sand its surface. Sanding helps remove any tool marks and scratches from wood. So take your maple, and start sanding it from 80-grits.
You can use a random orbit sander for this purpose. Once you finish with that, move up to 120-grits and then 180-grits. You can stop at 180-grits but if you want an even smoother surface, go for 220-grits at max.
Note: Apply the final abrasive with your hand using a sanding block in the direction of the grain for better results.
Step 2 – Applying Oil
Once you are done with sanding, clean off the surface with a clean cloth, preferably a microfiber cloth. This will remove any sawdust or dust particles that are on the wood. Now take a white rag and either directly pour oil on the surface or apply a little onto the cloth itself. Then gently rub it all across the maple spreading it all over. Make sure that every inch of the wood is covered with oil.
Wipe off any excess oil with another clean rag that might be just sitting over the surface of the maple.
Step 3 – Applying Another Coat
After waiting overnight you can apply another coat of oil if you want to. Just repeat the same process and apply another coat of the oil of your choice on the surface with a rag. Don’t pour the oil on the surface this time as it already has absorbed it before and it will go to waste.
Step 4 – Removing Sweat/Excess Oil
Now that you have applied the oil on the maple, leave it for a day or at the very least 12-hours. When 12-hours have passed you will see that the surface of the maple is sweating. This happens when the wood has been saturated with oil and this sweat is basically the excess. Take a clean/dry rag and wipe off the excess oil or sweat.
You might need to repeat the last step again if there is any more excess oil on the surface of the wood. Though once there isn’t any sweating or excess oil droplets on the surface then just let the maple dry and cure. It will take around 24-48 hours for the oil to dry in the open air depending on your weather conditions. It will take a week or two to cure properly, but once it does, it will become food safe.
Benefits of Oiling Maple
Maple is a wood that can withstand a lot of abuse and is often used in places like bowling alleys and basketball courts. This hardwood is pretty dense and can take on a lot of hits without denting. While it can withstand the abuse, it can still be susceptible to the elements. To help protect it against water damage, such people will apply an oil-based finish on it.
Using oils on maple will replenish its natural oils, provide it with more strength, and give it protection against the elements. Applying oils also makes the surface of the maple beautiful and makes the tiger grain of the wood pop out. So it not only carries technical benefits but is also beneficial aesthetically.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Is tung oil good on Maple?
Yes, in fact it is one of the best oils to apply on maple for many reasons.
How often should you oil Maple wood?
You can apply oil on maple wood after a year or two depending on the conditions. If the weather is dry and it has direct exposure to sunlight, you might want to apply it within a year. If it has been taken care of properly then you can reapply it after 2 years.
Does tung oil darken Maple?
No, pure tung oil will not darken maple wood. Dark tung oil does darken the shade of wood, but pure tung oil has a slight amber tint that will intensify the tiger grain of maple.
How long does it take for oil to dry on Maple?
It will take around 48 hours for the oil to dry on wood or more depending on weather conditions. If it is humid in your city it might take a bit longer for it to dry. However, once it dries the oil still has to cure which might take a week or two.
Maple is a really fine hardwood that has a beautiful tiger grain which really pops out after you apply an oil finish to it. Even though the wood itself is pretty durable, it is not resistant to the elements itself. Oiling it will not only improve the aesthetics but also help Maple protect itself from the elements like water. Regards to which oil to choose, you can choose any of the ones mentioned above.