What Kind of Oil is Best for Walnut Wood

Walnut is a favourite of the woodworkers because of its quality and workability. It is a hardwood that has a beautiful grain texture and colour. Aside from its aesthetics as one of the most beautiful woods, walnut is also very durable. It is dense, durable, and avoids shrinking or warping. Though with wood this beautiful, it becomes a challenge to choose the right oil finish for the job. You don’t want something that will mess up the natural colour of the wood. At the same time, you want something that will protect it from water damage. So to help you out we have made a guide on what kind of oil is best for walnut wood. 

Boiled linseed oil and tung oil are best suited for walnut wood. Linseed oil has been used in traditional woodworking for centuries now. It has a faint amber hue that helps accentuate wooden furniture when applied to it. Tung oil on the other hand is one of the best natural oil finishes. Most oil-based finishes have it as one of their main ingredients. It does not alter the colour of the walnut but instead makes its natural dark brown shade more prominent.

Walnut is a durable and dense hardwood that is very readily available and pretty reasonably priced for its qualities. It has a dark brown and a light brown shade, with its heartwood darker in colour while the sapwood is lighter. Walnut is beloved by woodworkers for its workability. You can cut it easily, and it sands really well, which makes it a great candidate for making furniture. You cannot go wrong when you choose walnut as your choice of wood.

Best Oils for Walnut Wood

1. Linseed Oil

Linseed oil is a tried and tested traditional oil finish used by both modern and traditional woodworkers. It has been used for centuries now for its extremely beautiful results on wood as an oil finish. Walnut wood is ideal for making all sorts of wooden items that require to be durable. One big example of that is it being used to make furniture. People often make beds, tables, counters, and dressers with walnut wood. Linseed oil provides a strong hard finish once it dries improving the water resistance of walnut.

Furniture also needs to look good along with being durable, this is where Linseed oil helps the most. Applying Linseed oil to walnut will accentuate its grain, making it more prominent and really bringing it out in the limelight. It also deepens the darker shades of the wood and makes it even more beautiful. It highlights the darks and the lights of walnut and gives it a rich and luxurious look. Not to mention it is food safe and non-toxic meaning once it is cured properly you can use walnut cutting boards without causing harm to your family.

Sunnyside Corporation Pure Raw Linseed Oil is one of the best-selling products in the market due to its reasonable pricing. It is pure Linseed oil that has been boiled or polymerized. Once it dries and cures it will harden to a film and protect your walnut wood from moisture damage.


  • It is food safe.
  • Extremely easy application.
  • Accentuates grain and shades of walnut wood.
  • Protects against moisture damage after drying.


  • Takes too long to dry.
  • Amber tint darkens with time.

2. Tung Oil

Ask any woodworker about the best oil finish, they will probably say it’s pure tung oil. It is one of the best oil finishes that dries fast due to its chemical composition. Tung oil can be used on walnut to highlight its beautiful grain pattern and colour. It accentuates the light and dark shades of walnut wood and makes it look absolutely gorgeous.

Tung oil dries to a hard film finish that protects wood from moisture damage. While walnut is already a durable and dense wood, it still benefits from the moisture protection that tung oil provides it. Due to its fast drying times and durability, tung oil is added to many other oil finishes. It is one of the main components of Danish and Teak oil.

Hope’s 100% Pure Tung Oil is an extremely good product that you can find in online stores. It does not contain any VOCs or solvents, so it is considered food safe once it is cured properly.


  • Faster drying times.
  • Does not alter the colour of walnut wood.
  • Accentuates and highlights grain and shade.
  • Protects from moisture damage.


  • Slightly more expensive.
  • Slightly strong odour.

How to Choose the Right Oil for Your Walnut Furniture

Walnut wood is mostly used for furniture, for instance, tables and beds. Depending on the type of use for your furniture, you might want to choose a different oil finish for it. Let us suppose you are making a table for your living room. You might cover your table with a cloth or you want people to see the walnut wood’s beautiful grain. If you don’t have any protective covering for your table then it will be a target for activity. You want to make sure that you want to use an oil finish that can handle abuse.

A bed is mostly covered with a mattress and covers, of course, the headboard of the bed is visible, but it is not frequently touched or abused. The same goes for the legs of the table, you sleep on the mattress and that is where most of the activity happens. So an oil finish that highlights the headboard of the bed and its legs will be much better.

In the case of a table, you would prefer using a finish like tung oil and for a bed, linseed oil would be perfect. If there is something like a kitchen counter or a cutting board that might be in the presence of food, applying linseed oil as a finish is perfect, same for other kitchen utensils.

Step-by-Step Guide on Oiling Walnut Wood

Applying an oil finish to walnut wood is similar to how you would do so for any other lumber. You need to prepare your walnut and make sure that there is no excess oil left when you are done with the number of coats you wish to apply.

Step 1 – Preparing Your Walnut Wood

To prepare walnut wood you need to sand it to 240-grits. Sanding walnut is essential as it is an open-grain wood with large pores. Because of that, the grain of the wood is not very smooth to the touch. You want to sand the surface of the walnut so that it becomes smoother. Start by sanding the entire wood with 80-grit sandpaper, you can use a random orbit sander if you don’t aren’t confident about sanding by hand.

Now use 120-grits so that it removes the marks of the 80-grit abrasive. After that, you should sand with 180-grits and lastly take a 240-grit sandpaper and sand in the direction of the grain by hand using a sanding block. You are sanding by hand in the direction of the grain at 240-grits because it will make the surface of the walnut much smoother and give better results.

Step 2 – Applying First Coat of Oil to the Walnut Wood

Now wipe off any dust from the walnut wood using a cleaning pad or cloth. Make sure there is no dust or dirt on the walnut when you are going to apply oil to it. Pour a generous amount of the oil of your choice on the surface of the wood and cover the walnut wood using a rag. You can also pour on the rag and rub it on the wooden furniture or utensil to spread the oil all over it. Make sure that each and every corner of the furniture is covered with oil.

After that wait an hour or so and take a clean rag and clean off any excess oil that might be sitting atop the surface. You need to do that as any excess oil won’t dry and will leave the walnut wood sticky.

Step 3 – Applying the Second Coat of Oil

After leaving the walnut wood for a minimum of 12 hours, you can now apply the second coat of oil to it. You don’t have to go generous with the oil this time though, you can just pour some on a rag and rub it on the surface instead. Just repeat the same process as earlier making sure every nook and cranny is properly exposed to the oil finish. After waiting an hour or so you can just wipe off any excess so it can dry properly.

Note: Repeat the same process about 4-5 times to ensure that you get a strong and durable oil finish on the walnut wood.

Step 4 – Wiping off Excess Oil and Letting it Cure

When you have applied your desired amount of oil to the wood, wipe off any excess oil remaining on the surface. If the walnut has become saturated with oils it will start to sweat or form droplets of oil on it. Using a clean rag just wipe it off once and let the wood cure for a week or two at the very least. If it starts to sweat again during the curing process make sure to wipe it off with a rag.

Benefits of Oiling Walnut Wood

While walnut is one of the more durable hardwoods that can avoid shrinking or warping due to exposure to small amounts of moisture, it is not completely water resistant. You want to make sure that you protect your walnut furniture from water damage. To do that, oiling or finishing off the wood with oil is a great option.

However, that is not all, as the oil finish will accentuate the beauty of walnut wood even further. Not to mention most natural oil finishes are non-toxic and VOC-free, making them environmentally friendly. When you oil walnut wood, it highlights the beautiful grain structure, and since it is an open grain wood, it absorbs oil really well. This will also make the wood strong from the inside as it replenishes the fibres.

How to Finish Walnut Without Darkening

Walnut has a shade of dark heartwood and light sapwood in it. Any finish that will further darken it will only ruin its natural beautiful colour. To prevent that, using something like natural and pure tung or linseed oil to finish walnut wood will be the best option. Both of these do not contain any stains or dyes that can darken the wood. Avoid using any oil finishes that might have these additives as they will only end up darkening walnut.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best matte finish for walnut?

An oil finish is low sheen and will leave the wood with a matte surface. If you don’t want a glossy or shiny surface don’t sand your wood to any more than 180-grits.

Best finish for the walnut table?

Pure tung oil is the best finish for a walnut table. It will protect it from scratches and water damage. 

Does linseed oil darken walnut wood?

No, linseed oil does not darken walnut or any wood. It only accentuates and highlights the natural colour and shade of the wood.

Final Thoughts

The biggest challenge when finishing any wood is knowing which ones suit it the best. Something like walnut wood isn’t any exception, specifically if you plan on using a traditional finish like oil. Knowing the right oil for the right purpose is important. If you are planning on applying an oil finish from our list, then make sure to follow the guide and you will have the best results.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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