Finishing Techniques for Walnut Wood

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    Penetrating Oil Finish

    • Walnut responds well to simple finishing techniques such as oiling and waxing. A clear penetrating oil finish is a popular choice of finish for walnut. Stains used on many other woods are an attempt to mimic the color you can achieve simply by using oil on walnut. Use linseed oil, tung oil or any of the commercial brands of penetrating oil, which will all enhance the color and the grain. Oil also gives the wood surface a natural soft sheen. Sand the wood with 600-grit sandpaper for a satin-smooth surface.


    • Use stain to even out small areas of wood that have strong color variations, if you feel the finished piece will need this. Pick a stain that matches the darker areas. Walnut is a wood that tends to lighten over time, especially when exposed to direct sunlight, and it also develops a warm reddish cast. If you want to keep the original darker color, stain the wood and then apply a top coat.

    Dyes and Shellac

    • Some people want to instantly have the warm reddish-finish of aged timber; achieve this look by adding a few drops of reddish-brown liquid aniline dye to shellac. Use the mixture as a finish, stirring frequently so that the pigment does not settle. The surface must be well sanded and dust free. This is a quick fix; and timber purists will not do this, but it is an available option.


    • The best final finish for walnut is wax. Antique walnut furniture normally has a wax finish. Walnut is a hard wood and does not require the protection of polyurethane. Spread wax evenly across the surface, then buff most of it off so that only a thin layer remains. Using a lambswool buffer can give a beautiful glossy shine. Wait 24 hours before applying a second coat.

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