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As I said in my blog here at ThriftyFun (Pam's Pennypinching with Style), I have finished a raw pine wooden book shelf using just multiple coats of - BABY OIL! You just apply the oil until the wood won't absorb anymore. Voila, an oil finish, using less than a 1/4 of a bottle of baby oil (which is also non-toxic). No fumes and you can just apply it with your bare hands and a cloth.
The end result is a matte rather than shiny finish. If you like, you can apply furniture polish over it to give it a bit more shine. Pine starts off very light, and does darken a bit with oiling. I also oiled an unfinished oak cabinet I was given a few years ago and the finish is still fine. You can also use this as furniture polish on your other wood furniture, and if there are nicks in the wood, the baby oil will darken them to look distressed instead of damaged (and then you can polish).
Remember all wooden furniture needs to be "fed" with some sort of oil to keep up its sheen. That is definitely true for an inexpensive wood like pine.
By pam munro from L.A., CA
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Please! It is not true that wood needs to be fed with oil. You can ruin some pieces that way. My grandfather was a furniture maker and his work is now collectable. He always said that good furniture needs wax, not oil. In the past people always waxed their furniture with beeswax, then polished it to make it shine. Oil will eventually absorb into the wood and make it swell. The exception is tung oil which should only be used on unfinished wood.
Your grandfather was a smart man. Thanks for the heads up.
With accolades to your wonderful grandfather, who was kind enough to share his expertise with us, I'll WAX all my valuable (sentimental & otherwise) wood!
That being acknowledged, I do have a pine kitchen nook table that gobbles up oil --- and Baby Oil is so reminiscent of happier days -- elementary school oil painting; it smells so nice, and hey --- softens hands!
Admittedly this table, although not pressed wood, has little $$$ value, but sopping it with Baby Oil allows me to spend the necessary $$$ and time on the real thing.