Wood stains, oils, finishes - Help me figure out what I need, please

I'm currently working on a coffee table inspired by https://www.instructables.com/id/Pallet-Coffee-Table-From-Reclaimed-Wood, and I need to help figuring out how to treat the wood. I love the way the table in the instructable turned out, so something similar would be great. basically I want to emphasize the natural beauty of the wood, not cover it up with color. But I would like the final product to be a bit darker than what the wood is right now.

I'm considering oil or water-based stains, danish oil, and other similar products, but I know very little about them. Do I want a stain? Is Danish Oil the same thing as a stain? As far as I can tell, the product in the instructable was water-based, semi-gloss, but doesn't have a color on the label, so it must be a clear coat? It definitely darkened the wood, but perhaps that's normal for a clear coat?

Other considerations: I would love for this to be as easy as possible, and environmentally friendly. If we can keep fumes to a minimum that would be great. :-) I also don't want anything that looks glossy as I think that looks kind of fake and doesn't keep with the spirit of the natural wood.

I'm totally lost, so please help me out if you can. I'm happy to answer clarifying questions!

Thanks in advance!
Josh

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Hardwood pallets or softwood pallets?

Hardwood you can sand smooth and oil or wax for just a light darkening and a satin finish.

With darker finishes you can add oil based stain to the oil or stain with water based stain when dry wax for a satin finish.

Softwood needs a clear coat or shellac, dust will permeate softwood.

Water, coffee, and pop, will permeate both hardwood and softwood unless sealed
jgallup024 years ago
No problems, good luck with your project.
jgallup024 years ago
I really like using Danish Oil and a few coats of wax paste. The fumes are almost nonexistent and the wax actually smells good. It is super easy to apply and with both Danish Oil and wax you can find some tinting or you can go with completely clear, allowing the nature of the wood to really show through. Danish oil is kind of best of all different aspects sealing, staining, and protecting and then the wax helps fill in tiny voids and gives it a great satiny sheen that looks natural and feels great to the touch. If you ever need to fix the danish oil and wax combo it is very easy to do.
joshme (author)  jgallup024 years ago
Thanks jgallup02. My understanding is that Danish Oil has lots of chemicals to help it harden, etc. and that it takes longer to dry than water-based finishes. It also requires more cleanup since you can't wash the brushes with simple soap and water. Interesting that you said it doesn't smell too bad since that was one concern. I'm still not sure what to do, but I'm leaning towards the more convenient water-based options.
Thrasym4 years ago
You can get things these days that weren't around when I was younger. Things like waterbased tinted clear coats that work great. Just sand and clean the wood, apply a few coats, sanding between, done. You don't need to really play around with stains and sealers and oils and polishes and and and...like you did back in the day. Of course, you can polish any thick finish if you're after that.

Head to any hardware or DIY or home centre or building supply or lumber yard. They should have a wide selection of polyurethanes and vanishes. Pick one with some durability and the colour you like. Build up a few extra layers and it should last a long time.
Thrasym Thrasym4 years ago
Oh, also, a bit of shine actually brings out the wood patterns. Gives it life. Though there is a point where it starts to look plastic, but it's hard to get there. You can get different grades of gloss but the wear may become glossy over time where your hands and elbows polish the table surface over time.
joshme (author)  Thrasym4 years ago
Thanks Thrasym! Yeah, the stain+poly (which I think is essentially what you're talking about) seems like the easiest option. I really wish there were a more natural, greener option, but the only ones I've found are way more expensive.