liberon - Finishing Oil (Rating: 5)


Let me start by saying I'm a hobby woodworker, I have no affiliation with Liberon. I bought my first can of Liberon Finishing Oil at Rockler on a whim quite a few years ago. The price has increased considerably over the years, I still buy it because it's worth it and I haven't found anything better at any price.

From time to time over the years I've ask myself, why don't woodworkers in the woodworking communities I frequent, talk (rave) more about Liberon Finishing Oil? I've mentioned it several times here on LJ without much response. So, I thought I would Do a review and start a conversation here.

First of all, I absolutely love Liberon Finishing Oil, It's the most used finish in my shop. It's pricey but in my opinion very well worth it. I haven't used it on light colored woods much as I work mostly with darker woods like Mahogany, Walnut and Cherry.

After thirty years of woodworking, I've yet to find a finish I prefer over Liberon Finishing Oil. I can't say I've tried them all, but I have spent some $$ and time trying a lot of finishes and techniques. I've used BLO, a variety of the more popular commercially available finishes (OSMO, Maloof ETC.) as well as wipe on, spray and brush on Poly as well including Lacquer. I've spent a ton of $$$ on badger hair brushes, HVLP spray system and the like and they are all stored away nicely and un used for a few years now. The Liberon initial cost is more than anything else I've tried but can be applied with steel wool and shop towels.

In my experience the luster, tone, depth and color of Liberon Finishing oil is unmatched. To me most important benefit of this finish is the reliably great results, no drips, sags or misses even in the little corners. The color enhancement, luster and grain pop with this finish is luxurious, natural, smooth and inviting. Nothing I've tried makes the grain pop as nicely, and the color enhancement is just…. well I seldom add any color to the wood.

I often think I should do something to improve the photography of my projects. I think my photos never look as good as the real thing, not even close. Perhaps some day.

Reparability to me is another of Liberon Finishing oils significant qualities. Sometimes after the 1st - 3rd coat I discover a blemish I missed when prepping, or I find a bit of shop rash from moving things around, or some glue squeeze out I missed. With Liberon Finishing Oil it's no problem I can shave or sand off an imperfection and after only one or two additional coat its's gone. Really gone, invisible. To me that's a reparability at an amazing level. I recently repaired a box I made 10 years ago that was finished with Liberon (you can see it in my projects gallery). The top had significant scratches and dings. I sanded out the imperfections and recoated the top with 2-3 coats of Liberon Finishing Oil. I finally recoated the whole box, just because I am anal. But I didn't really need to. The repair blended in perfectly, even under raking light after ten years.

I also used Liberon Finishing Oil on my cherry bed over ten years ago and it still looks great. In fact, as it changed to that lovely chocolate cherry tone, the finish continues to enhance the wood beautifully.
I might choose a harder film finish for a dining room table top, or bar top after applying Liberon, I haven't tried that yet. I did use Liberon on the mahogany desk top I completed this past year. I expect it to hold up well for years. I'm retired so I don't use that desk every day, but it does get regular use. So far so good. I guess what I'm saying is that it seems pretty durable so far to me.

Here's how I apply it. First, I use a ROS starting with 180 and going up to 220 grit. I final hand sand to 220 grit with the grain. Then I apply a flood coat with 0000 steel wool (also Liberon) rubbing it in vigorously. I keep flooding 5-10 min till the dry spots stop absorbing the oil. After 10-15 minutes I wipe it "dry", really dry with blue paper shop towels, sometimes (when I start early in the day) I'll apply another flood coat and wipe it dry the same way. I let it dry overnight. The next day I apply another coat, again with 0000 steel wool, I let stand for 10-20 minutes and wipe it dry with blue shop towels again. I usually repeat the process with 4-6 coats repairing any imperfections I find. I let it dry over night for each coat. With Liberon you can create a flat look, by applying only a few coats, or low luster with a few more, all the way to high gloss (I've never gone this far) with several more. I stop adding coats when the improvements aren't as great between coats or when I think it looks great in the morning.

To summarize, in my opinion, Liberon Furniture Oil (on dark woods) is unbeatable for a natural luster and figure popping eye appeal with even coverage, no runs, no sags ,no dust bunnies. If after the next ten years it turns out it's not durable enough for a working table top, it's easy enough to reapply a fresh coat every few decades. It looks so great, it's worth it. I hope some of you try this product, if you do, I expect it will be your new go to finish.

Also, I'm wondering if any of you all have figured out how to make your own Liberon Finishing Oil type of finish in your shop. If so, I would like to know about that. As It seams the only improvement to Liberon Finishing Oil I can recommend is lowering the cost.