I recently cut down a (dead) pinyon pine and I'm using part of it to make a handle for a hammer. While working with this wood the smell of it is out-of-this-world amazing.

Once the handle is finished what can I use to protect it such that I can still smell the wood?

  • 1
    Since this is a hammer handle and you used pine (which isn't typically used for tool handles that take shocks) did you take care to orient the grain the right way in the eye, to maximise what strength is available? Also, avoiding grain runout in the main body of the handle would be advisable.
    – Graphus
    May 27 at 17:30
  • @Graphus the reason I used pinyon pine was because I found the rusty hammer head in a location where those grow and there was a dead one there that I could take a log from. I'm aware that it's too soft for its intended use (and shock) and was instead selected for sentimental reasons. I did not explicitly orient the grain - I will read up on that as no doubt this will not be the last time I replace this handle. Thanks for your advice.
    – Guy
    May 28 at 13:17
  • Conversation about grain orientations to be continued here: woodworking.stackexchange.com/questions/12880/…
    – Guy
    May 28 at 13:32

You can't.

It doesn't matter if you put nothing on it the smell you got was because the wood was being worked and in common with other species that smell lovely during processing — including genuine rosewoods which can have a sort-of rose smell and various resinous conifers which give off that piney/turpentiney odour that some love and some don't — you can expect it to diminish to the point that you can't smell it unless you put your nose right on the wood, and perhaps even then you might need to scrape it or sand it to release the aroma.

Even with wood that's used for its smell, species like cedar which are packed full of particularly aromatic compounds, the odour only lingers if the wood is left unfinished, and in a confined space — the same wood used to line a blanket chest, if left out as loose boards will not have a noticeable odour after a fairly short time.

If you're particularly enamoured of the smell I suggest you horde scraps of the tree and sand or plane a little of it every time you go into the workshop :-) For a more permanent solution you might look at essential oils to see if one or a combination give you something close.


A tool handle? Just leave it unfinished, and let your well-earned grime and skin oils polish it over the years.

If you do finish it, then choose any penetrating finish and keep it light. The volatiles in the wood will mix with the volatiles in the finish and it will mostly stay the same. Those wax and oil mixtures sold for oiling cutting boards and salad bowls would probably be the most scentless.

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