Today’s finishes? no matter how effective they might be as a long term protector of timber they inherently have negative environmental side effects. Paints that have good protection tend to contain toxins and often carbon-based. We are told again and again how bad carbon-based toxins are. Good old fashioned oil-based paints obviously contain oil hence carbon and more modern finishes such as water-based acrylics contain plastics such as resins.
Although we don’t blame anyone for using Brico available paint finishes it would be nice to find alternative products that have a more environmental direction, call it mission “tree hugger”!!
There are many ways you can protect your wooden external projects using natural ingredients. Modern finishes set or harden relatively quickly due to hardeners or activators. Some water-based products naturally air dry but many natural non-chemical hardeners but many natural homemade products can take weeks to harden and longer in damp environments. In France Volets otherwise, know as Shutters to the Brits living in France and elsewhere are very well-known for their beautiful colours. France is a beautiful country well deserving the myriad of colour that adorns the window dressings.
Tung Oil / Danish Oil
The Tung tree is a gift with a very useful seed that gives us the Danish oil or natively known as Tung Oil. It coats the wood, this Oil soaks into the wood and hardens fairly quickly when exposed to air. This Oil is widely available and recognised by fellow joiners.
Beeswax (internal use)
Beeswax is obviously natural and has been used for centuries. It can be heated to a fluid to aid application or diluted with tung oil . Once hardened it can be buffed to a sheen, sadly this finished is affected by water and can leave stains and zero preservative qualities.
Linseed oil is another penetrating oil that can help protect your wood projects. This old is a very well used oil product that is made from the seed of Lin. This oil can be used in it’s boiled or raw state. Boiled linseed oil that is available commercially tends to contain solvents to aid the hardening but traditionally it is placed over a flame and roll boiled until it is still. The boiling process removes any water which is the element that inhibits the drying process.
Shellac, as found in French polish, is made from the Lac bug. Shellac is the key ingredient that is widely used for the famous high gloss ‘French Polish’ finish. Shellac in this form has no benefits for your exterior woodwork.
Walnut oil (allergen)
Good oil for internal woodwork and fairly hardwearing
Jojoba oil contains waxes that help keep it from degrading, therefore protecting the wood it is applied to.
Yes it is only 1e50c and can fry your chips but also protect your wood with some preservative quality because of the high level of Vit E
Carnauba wax is a wax extracted from the leaves of a palm tree that grows in Brazil. This wax is very durable and well known amongst surfer types. I cannot recommend this wax because it is another palm product and we know how controversial that is!!!
Mineral oil is not natural and should not be chosen but I will forgive you if it is recycled such as old engine oil but it won’t dry for ages and can leave deposits or staining on your clothes.
Some Natural Oils are not Suited for timber
Vegetable-based oils are no good as a wood preservative and some are known Allergens.
- Almond Oil (allergen)
- Sesame Oil
- Canola Oil
- Hemp Oil
- Flax Seed Oil (except as linseed oil)
- Olive Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Corn Oil
Any oils that never really dry out and will always be oily, sticky which attracts dust, dirt, and animal hair.
Limewash was a common wood finish for inside and outside timber and is a natural mould & mildew resistant paint finish and it has been used for centuries. Limewash finishes are making a comeback not just for the fact they are considered natural but for their soft beauty. Some propriety brands such as ‘Sloan’ Paints are available pigmented or you can make your own using recipes available online.
By Marcus Kett, Woodworking since 1989
Woodworking for me is in my blood as a son of a traditional boatbuilder. My Father Malcolm Kett was highly skilled and inventive individual often referred to as ‘Malcolm The Boat’.
Although I have spent a considerable portion of my life seeking further education and gaining qualifications in woodworking, electrical installations, bricklaying and to top it a degree in photography.
Yes, it is a medley of possible career choices but the one that I felt truly at home with was Woodworking. Woodworking has been my staple career choice that has given my family stability.
Why do I write these guides?
We started to write these guides to help our customers. The idea was to provide the information needed to install our made to measure wooden products that we sell on this website and directly to our local customers.
We soon received feedback from people abroad and interested readers not local to us. I like to help people and I am excited that fellow woodworkers or keen DIYers found guidance in my articles. I intend to carry on writing and producing youtube videos for the purpose of providing useful content. Please share our blog with your friends and anyone that could find interest in the magic of working with wood.
I am happy to inform you that we have included some links to related products. If you decide to purchase any product we receive a modest commission from Amazon. This is not considered as our main income but any commission earned is used to provide more tutorials. I thank you for your support.
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The content in this article is provided for free but we retain all copyright. We do encourage you to borrow this content but only if you cite us as the original content with a link to our site.
We have lived and worked here in the Limousin Nouvelle Aquitaine since 2010, building window shutters and external doors. Our Volet manufacturing business is based at our home property as a ‘Cottage Industry’. We are a small business operating partly (60%) off the grid and try our best to practice our woodworking ethically.
How did we come up with the trading name ‘Wallybois’? Well, it is simple really, my best buddy ‘Wally’ and the fact that ‘Bois’ is French for wood and we live in France.