wood lathe - Danish Oil

Pros Smoothest most easily obtained "perfect" finish.

Easy to repair.

Cons Not as durable as film finishes.

Finish may require periodic maintenance.

Procedure requires lots of elbow grease.

Should not be applied over common pigment or gel stains.


Danish oil is considered to be a penetrating oil type finish. In actuality, the oil does not penetrate very deeply, just a little deeper than typical film finishes. When using this type of finish, there is no need to sand the wood surface with anything higher than 180 or 220 grit sandpaper prior to finishing. In order for this finish to work properly it must be able to penetrate into the wood. It will not be able to do so if you have stained it with the commonly available pigment or gel stains. If you wish to stain the surface you can use a water based dye applied first or use a tinted Danish oil.

This finish is one that even an amateur can apply and achieve excellent results if the proper steps are followed. There are several procedures that are similar to the one outlined below, any of them will work, this is a simplified version. I use Deft Danish oil but the procedure should be the same for all "Danish oils".

1. Even if you wish to use this product as a stain as well as a finish, apply the "natural" color of the product to end grain areas first then the colored version. This will keep the end grain from looking darker than the rest of the surfaces. Apply a very wet coat to all surfaces, allow the oil to stand on the surface for about 30 minutes, apply more to any areas that become dry during this time period. After 30 minutes or if the oil starts to become a little "tacky", wipe it all off.

2. Immediately apply another wet coat of oil to the surface, allow to stand for about 15 minutes or until it starts to become tacky. Wipe all oil off of the surface. The surface will "bleed", or seep oil onto the surface for a few hours after application. You do not want this bleeding oil to harden so wipe the surface down every half hour or so. Open pore woods like oak will bleed more than woods such as maple. Note, the more vigorously you wipe the oil off, the more it will bleed, heat causes this.

3. From now on, you should apply the finish every other day. You may continue to use the tinted version of the product or switch to the natural colored oil at this point. From this point onwards, the oil will be applied with sandpaper. Start with 320 or 400 grit black sandpaper and wet sand the surface using the oil as a lubricant, This will work the oil into the surface and smooth the surface as well. You must wipe all of the excess oil from the surface before it becomes tacky during each application. Continue this operation every other day, switching to a finer grit of sandpaper each time. You can keep this up a long time but the benefits start to diminish after 600 grit.

4. After you have applied all of the oil you want, you may now apply either a coat of lemon oil or solvent wax (Watco) using the sandpaper method. This will become the final finish. As an alternative, you could use a paste wax wiped on with a rag and buffed out. The preferred wax to use will be colored to avoid any white spots.

5.About every year or two, you may wish to apply a coat of the natural finish oil and / or wax to the surface to restore it's sheen.
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