Old world grips have hand rubbed finishes.
Today’s hand grips are production oriented. Meaning that they have a top-coat of lacquer or varnish. There is a better way. Traditional grips were hand-rubbed with linseed oil. Hand-rubbed oil finishes are far better for beauty and protection; oil penetrates deep into the wood where it hardens in the pores. Hand rubbed oil finishes take longer, but they are worth the time. Grips are usually small and can adapt well to hand rubbed finishing.
1. Sand the grip down to bare wood. Use your fingers and a piece of 100 grit sandpaper. Repeat sanding the grip with 400 grit sandpaper, and then with fine steel wool until the grip has a velvet feel.
2. Pour a tiny amount of linseed oil on your finger tips. Smear the oil into the grip. Pour some more oil and smear more into the grip. Continue adding oil and smearing it in until the grip looks wet. Wait 24 hours.
3. Rub the grip with your fingers and palm. Rub it vigorously until it is slightly warm. Pour some more oil on your finger and rub the grip. Cover the grip completely until it looks wet. Wait 24 hours.
4. Rub the grip again until it is warm. Add more oil. Wait one week.
5. Rub, polish and add oil to the grip every day for one week. After that, rub, polish and oil the grip down at least once a week for the next month. After that, repeat at least once every six months or more. Leave the grip out where you can get to it easily. Make it a habit to pick up the grip and rub it in the evenings — the more often the better.