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Birch tar oil makes an excellent wood finish and protector but is largely unknown today even though it has been around for thousands of years. Depending on how it is applied it can leave a light satin type finish, a darker patina style finish that gives the wood some “age” and depth as well as a dark antique type look. It penetrates deeply and dries to a satin sheen that is not hard, gives the wood a warm feeling which is smooth but not slippery. This makes it ideal for things such as knife handles, traditional Puukko knife makers knew this and this is the reason that style of knife was renowned for its “grip”.


Other Benefits Of Birch Tar Oil As A Wood Finish & Protector


  • Waterproofs wood
  • Long lasting
  • It smells awesome (unique smoky smell)
  • Highly resistant to salt water damage
  • Repels bugs, insects, and worms
  • Highly resistant against bacteria, molds, and fungus
  • 100% natural

If you are after a hard durable finish but want the look and benefits of Birch tar oil you can apply beeswax after the Birch tar oil. also offers a birch tar oi + beeswax combination that works well.


How It Looks On Wood


This section I will be updating frequently over the next couple of months as I have more wood samples to try it on. To start all I have on hand at the moment is some sugar maple.


Sugar Maple Sanded To 180 Grit


Birch tar oil on wood 180 grit


Sections going closest to farthest: Beeswax + birch tar oil (, birch tar oil + heat, birch tar oil.

This is one coat only. The middle section I applied the birch tar oil and used a mini torch to lightly heat it, the oil boils quite easy, love the look this gives. The oil penetrates very deep with this technique. With a bit larger flame I could have made a more uniform finish, I will need to get a bigger torch. Here are some better pictures of sheen and details.


birch tar oil heated on sugar maple 180 gritBirch tar oil on sugar maple 180 gritbirchees birch tar + beeswax on sugar maplebirch tar oil only on sugar maple sheenheated birch tar oil on sugar maple sheen at 180 gritbirchees birch tar oil + beeswax on sugar maple sheen


I will be doing some more tests over the next few days at 200 and 320 grit, I will also do a bit better job on the sanding for those 🙂


If you have birch trees in your area and are the DIY type checkout my guide How To Make Birch Tar Oil.

You can also buy birch tar oil here.


Author Lorne

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