How to Soften Wood

Do you want to make wooden products easier to work with? Softening wood is a great way to do this. The process of softening wood helps it become less brittle and more pliable for cutting and working with.

How to Soften Wood

Wood is a versatile material that brings any project warmth, beauty, and strength. Whether you are refinishing an old piece of furniture or creating art from scrap wood, knowing how to soften wood can definitely come in handy.

While there are several ways to soften the wood, this blog post will discuss tools used for sanding and buffing, products designed specifically for wood softening, and the importance of following certain steps for the best result.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about softening wood so they are soft enough to add texture or create intricate designs.

Why Should You Soften Wood?

Softening wood makes it more pliable and easier to work with. It can also help make the entire process of creating a DIY project smoother, allowing you to create intricate patterns or carve detailed shapes in the wood.

Additionally, softening the wood will strengthen its structure and reduce brittleness, making it more durable and resistant to wear and tear.

Overall, softening wood is an important step in any project involving wood, whether it’s furniture or art. It helps make the entire process smoother and creates a better-looking final product.

What Will You Need?

The process of softening wood includes several steps, some of which will require certain tools and materials. Here is a list of all the supplies you’ll need:

  1. Sandpaper
  2. Electric sander (optional)
  3. Softening products designed specifically for wood
  4. A soft cloth or rag
  5. Safety goggles and gloves

Once you have all your supplies, it’s time to start.

10 Easy Steps on How To Soften Wood

Step 1. Soak the Wood in Boiling Water:

Start by filling a pot with enough water to submerge the wood completely. Heat the water until it boils, and add the wood, making sure that it is completely submerged in the boiling water. Allow it to soak for a few minutes, then remove it from the boiling water and place it on a flat surface to cool.

Step 2. Sanding:

Once the Wood has cooled down, use sandpaper or an electric sander for sanding away any rough patches or splinters that might have formed during soaking. This will help create an even surface and make softening easier later on. Be sure to wear goggles and gloves when using power tools for this step.

An Electric Sander

Step 3: Applying Softening Products:

Now you are ready to apply to soften products specifically designed for wood. Ensure you follow the instructions on the product label carefully, as each product is different and will have its own instructions. Otherwise, you may end up damaging the wood.

Step 4: Buffing:

Once you’ve applied the softening products, use a soft cloth or rag to buff out any excess product. This will make it easier to work with and help create a smoother overall surface. Be careful not to buff too much, as this could damage the wood.

Step 5: Finishing Touches:

Before you start working with your newly softened wood, go over it one last time with sandpaper or an electric sander to ensure that all rough patches are smoothed out. This will help create an even surface and ultimately give you the best results when working with your wood. Don’t forget to wear your safety goggles and gloves when using power tools as well.

Step 6: Try It Out:

Now that your wood is softened, you can easily create intricate patterns or carve detailed shapes in it. Test it out and see how your newly softened wood looks. If you’re happy with the results, then you can move on to the next step.

Step 7: Allow the Wood to Dry Fully:

Once you’ve finished working with your wood, allow it to dry fully in a well-ventilated area. This will help the softening products set and ensure that your wood is ready for use. Additionally, letting it dry fully will also help prevent any water damage.

Step 8: Seal the Wood:

Once your wood is completely dry, seal it with a layer of varnish or wax to keep it protected. This step is important if you plan on using the wood outdoors or in damp areas, as it will help prevent damage and extend the life of your wood. If you’re using it indoors, you can skip this step.

Varnish or Wax

Step 9: Storing Your Wood:

When you’re finished with your project, store your wood in a dry area away from direct sunlight. This will help keep the wood looking its best and ensure that it lasts many years. You can also keep it sealed with varnish or wax to further protect the wood.

Step 10: Enjoy Your Creation:

Finally, all that’s left to do is admire your work! With these wood softening steps, you can now easily create beautiful DIY projects. And don’t forget—regular maintenance and cleaning can help keep your project looking great for years to come. Remember always to wear safety glasses and gloves when working with wood.

You can easily create beautiful DIY projects by following these steps on softening wood. With the right tools and materials, as well as a little bit of patience and effort, you can achieve great results and enjoy your creation for years to come.

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

1. Applying Mineral Oil: Soak a cotton cloth in mineral oil and rub it onto the wood until it has been completely absorbed. This will help to soften the wood as well as add some shine.

2. Heat Gun or Hair Dryer: Heating up the wood can help make it more pliable, so use a heat gun or a regular hair dryer. Be sure not to burn the surface while doing this!

Heating Up the Wood

3. Boiled Linseed Oil: Boiling linseed oil works similarly to mineral oil; soak a cloth in boiled linseed oil and rub it over the wood until it is fully absorbed. This will help soften the wood and give it some added protection from wear and tear.

4. Wood Conditioner: A wood conditioner can be applied instead if you don’t want to use oils. This will help nourish the wood, making it softer and more pliable.

5. Sandpaper: Another option is to use sandpaper to lightly smooth down any rough edges and make the wood surface softer to the touch. Be sure not to overdo it, as this may damage the surface of the wood! Follow up with an appropriate finish or sealant if desired.

By following these tips, you’ll have softened wood in no time at all!

5 Things You Should Avoid

1. Applying Too Much Heat: Too much heat can damage the wood, causing it to warp and crack.

2. Excessive Sanding: Sanding can also cause the wood to become brittle and weaken its structure.

3. Chemical Treatments: The use of harsh chemicals on wood can degrade its natural properties, making it more difficult to soften.

4. Over-moisturizing: Keeping the wood overly moist for an extended period can rot and deteriorate more quickly than normal.

5. Leaving the Surface Unprotected: Without a protective finish or coating, the softening process will be accelerated due to exposure to environmental elements like UV rays and moisture levels in the air. Always seal your softened wood with a clear sealer or finish to prevent further damage.

Always use caution when attempting any of these techniques, and make sure to wear protective gear when dealing with high temperatures and steam. With patience and practice, anyone can learn how to soften wood safely and effectively.

Can Water Soften Wood?

Yes, it is possible to soften wood using water. Soaking the wood in warm or hot water can help make it more pliable and easier to work with.

Soften Wood Using Water

However, be aware that this technique may cause the grain of the wood to swell or rise, so sanding will still be necessary if you’re looking for a smooth finish.

Additionally, keep in mind that prolonged exposure to moisture can cause the wood to rot over time; therefore, it’s important to dry the wood thoroughly after soaking before applying any finishes or sealants. Water softening is an effective way to soften wood quickly and easily!


Whether you are restoring an old piece of furniture or crafting something new, softening wood can give your project the professional finish it deserves. Now that you’ve read this blog, you can better understand how to soften wood with various techniques such as steaming, boiling, sanding, chemical relaxing, and soaking.

The most convenient way has to be soaking your wood in hot water. As with any process involving chemicals or heat, use extreme caution when softening wood and always wear protective gear while working. Doing so will protect not only yourself but also the beauty of your hardwood project. Lastly, remember that softening wood properly ensures it looks eye-catching for years to come!

Hopefully, the article has been helpful and informative. Now it’s time to get started on your project! Good luck!

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian has been interested in woodworking since he was a child. His father had a woodworking shop, and Adrian would help him out and learn from him. He gained basic carpentry knowledge as well as an understanding of how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others. So he started this blog to spread his passion and knowledge to those interested in DIY wood-working projects. He knows that with a little guidance and practice, anyone can create beautiful pieces of furniture or décor from scratch.

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