Applying Danish Oil




Modern Danish Oil is a mixture of varnish and either linseed or tongue oil. It provides very good protection to woodworking project without obscuring the color and grain of the wood. It’s not a film finish - it dries and hardens in the wood, not on the wood so your work piece will not have a ‘plastic’ look.

Best of all, Danish Oil is very easy to apply. It’s so easy, in fact, that it is the finish I most often recommend to new woodworkers. Here is how I apply Danish Oil to my woodworking projects.

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Step 1: Materials

Danish Oil

Micro-fiber tack cloth

Lint-free cloth or rag

Foam Brush

Disposable gloves

Step 2: Prepare the Piece for Finish

Begin by preparing the wood surface for the finish. This means sanding (or hand planning) the finish as smooth as you want. For most indoor furniture, I will move my way up through the sanding grits on a hand-held random orbit sander, beginning at 120, then going to 150 or 180 and finally finishing at 220. You can only apply this finish to raw wood.

Before applying finish, it is important to remove as much of the dust as possible from the work piece. I staring by vacuuming the piece with shop-vac. Then, I dust the entire piece a micro-fiber tack cloth to remove any remaining dust.

Step 3: Apply the First Coat

Try to apply the finish in a relative dust free environment i.e. not in your shop right after you have finished sanding. This finish should also be applied at room temperature and in a well ventilated area -it will smell.

I find it easiest to apply this finish by first transferring some into an old yoghurt container to work out of. Liberally apply the finish over the whole work piece using a brush or rag. You can put on a lot, flooding the surface.

Step 4: Reapply Coats

After 30 minutes, come back to the piece and reapply finish, particularly to areas where all the finish has been soaked in. For a typical piece of furniture I will repeat this process to build up 2 or 3 coats. Additional coats will deepen the shine and increase protection.

Step 5: Wipe Everything Dry

Once I am satisfied with the number of coats, I will wait 15 minutes, then wipe the surface of the piece completely dry making sure there are no drips or pools of finish. I will touch the finish with my fingertips - it should feel oily but dry and smooth.

Wait a day, and the piece is ready for use. It's that easy!

Step 6: Dispose of Your Oily Rag

You must now safely dispose of the oily rag. Improperly disposed oily rags can spontaneously combust. It’s very important that they not be scrunched up in a ball and left somewhere like the garbage. Hang them outside to dry in a safe area or spread them out flat. They should not be in a pile. Once they cure, the cloth will be hard and brittle and you can throw them out.

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    11 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Introduction

    Can I soak new cut plywood scroll saw pieces in Danish oil overnight? Or, dipping it in a tray for 30 minutes?

    Never Forgotten on 1 Knew FLIPPED.jpg

    Question 1 year ago on Introduction

    Hello and thanks for the video information. My question is I noticed that you did not sand between coats, is it necessary or not? I am making an unfinished acacia wood butcher block, L-shaped bench for my breakfast nook that will be built-in. We want something to seal it with something that does not change the color much, yellow like polyurethane and not a glossy finish. We would like to keep it as close as we can to its natural color, maybe a matte or satin finish. We will sand and seal the wood prior to building in a shop, and prefer not to do much sanding in our home now and in the future. We would like some advice...Thank you so much for your time!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    My Danish Oil says to wait 4-8 hours between coats. A different formulation?

    Once you have completed an application, do you return any unused oil to the tin, or discard it?

    To avoid premature evaporation, I decant the oil into smaller bottles, in which I aim to have as little air as possible. A hassle, but before I switched to this method, I lost half a tinfull due to over-long air contact.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the comment. The process I described is commonly called the 'one day' finish - flood it one and come back reapply successive coats in the same day, then wiping it off. Another way to do it is to wipe on a thin coat, then come back the next day (in 8 hours or whatever) and do another thin coat. In my experience both work well.

    I don't generally put finish back in the can - I try to one take out a bit at a time to make sure I'm not wasting any. Thanks for the tip on evaporation, good to know!


    Reply 2 years ago

    I know this is a really old comment, but thought I would share a tip for any new people stumbling over this great instructable.

    Instead of moving the oil over in smaller containers, it is possible to fill up the can with marbles. This will fill up the empty space and thus removing the air in the can. The marbles can than be washed when they are no longer needed.


    3 years ago

    What does danish oil protect and against what?


    4 years ago

    Danish Oil is my favorite finishing product. I use it on most of my projects.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I've never used Danish oil to finish my projects because I didn't know how it worked and how it looked. I'll give it a try now with more confidence! Thanks!