I'm in the process of preparing a pine wooden box to hold a large number of cardboard wallets for storing a card game collection, but there appears to be some oil or something like it inside the wood itself. When i have left some paper inside the box, it has gone slightly waxy and translucent.

I am worried that leaving the cardboard wallets and the cards that will go inside them will also cause some damage to them. I was considering varnishing the box myself anyway, and was wondering if anyone knew if this would prevent any damage to the contents like I've described?

The box was made for me as a gift by my brother, and is made out of pine.

  • Also, I wasn't sure if this question would be better posed here or in the diy SE site - if it should be posted there instead please let me know and I'll happily remove it :)
    – Sok
    May 30, 2017 at 20:53
  • 3
    Knowing the type of wood would certainly help... and if he treated it in any way. Some woods are oily and others are pretty dry... and some woods absorb treatments (like oiling) well - while others will continue to seep oils for weeks. I think this is a good fit though you may find some more expert opinions on Woodworking. All that said, I don't think it's off topic here. If you decide to ask on Woodworking, please do delete it here, though. Do see if you can find out the wood type and any existing preparations before you do that, though or add it here if you can find out.
    – Catija
    May 30, 2017 at 20:58
  • Thanks, I'll try to find out. If he remembers I'll edit it in.
    – Sok
    May 30, 2017 at 21:06
  • Great! Glad you were able to figure out what it's made out of. Were you able to find out if he treated it in any way already?
    – Catija
    May 31, 2017 at 15:27
  • It's not tacky right? So it is likely not sap? Anything else sounds like this was treated already. Possibly more than once where the second coat didnt take. Or perhaps it is a reaction to moisture in the air. A picture would help a lot here. As well as local climate where you are and where your brother would have made this.
    – Matt
    Jun 2, 2017 at 4:19

1 Answer 1


I've used water-based varnish to seal in resin leaking from pine in a bed base I made. I applied several coats to the whole surface, but started with a couple of coats over just the sticky areas. Before the first coat I scraped/sanded the surface and cleaned with methylated spirits (denatured alcohol).

This won't work well if it's actually oil that's leaking. Pine can be oiled, including with vegetable oil for food use. Most varnishes, even oil-based ones, won't work too well on top of this. You may be able to remove a lot of the oil with meths though. Drying it in an oven may also help. Not too hot, and not if other areas are painted or glued, or have plastic fixings.

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