How to Preserve Wooden Tool Handles

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Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper, 80 grit
  • Putty knife
  • Wood putty
  • Linseed oil
  • Cloth

Some wooden tool handles are years old, maybe even antiques. The wood gets crumbly, dried out and will break easily if not maintained. You can bring those handles back to life by giving them what they need. Linseed oil will give your wooden handles a supple, life-like quality that makes them appear almost new again. They will gain the flexibility they need to perform without breaking apart as the penetrating oil sinks deep into the pores of the wood.

Wrap the handle with a piece of 80 grit sandpaper. Spin the sandpaper around the handle in the palm of your hand to remove all of the old gray surface of the wood.

Scrub at the handle inside the curves and along the rough edges with the sandpaper to smooth off any chips or splinters. Use a putty knife to force wood putty into all the cracks. Let the putty dry for 15 minutes and sand the handle again until all the gray is gone from the wood.

Dip a soft cloth into the linseed oil. Apply the cloth to the handle and liberally coat the handle with the oil on the cloth. Let the oil run down inside the handle. Let it soak in for one hour and then apply more oil. Let it soak in overnight and apply another coat of oil.

Apply more oil once a week for a month and then once every six months after that.


  • You don't need to remove the handle, just leave it on the tool. Boiled linseed oil dries faster but is more expensive, use it if you desire. It works the same way.


  • Wear gloves if you use the handle within a few days of the oil applications. Linseed oil can remain tacky for several days. Even though linseed oil is non-toxic, wear breathing protection if you are using it in an enclosed area.