What Is Danish Oil?
If you have recently finished a woodworking project, and you want to get a great accessible finish, danish oil is one of the most commonly used finishes for a reason.
Danish oil is a combination of tung oil, mineral spirits, and linseed oil, and it makes a very effective finish for a lot of different types of woodworking projects.
While this is the standard composition of danish oil, there is a variety of different manufacturers of danish oil who make their own varieties that aim to have slightly different effects than each other.
Not every danish oil is made equal so make sure to read reviews of the specific brand you are buying to make sure you will get the best results.
Different danish oils are good for different roles so make sure to research properly before use!
Danish oil, while a very useful product with a massive variety of uses, has very clear advantages and disadvantages that make it great for use in certain situations, but also terrible for use in other situations.
This article will go very in-depth into each point, so you know all the detail you will need to know, but for a quick rundown of the points on either side we will give a quick abridged version here:
Advantages Of Danish Oil
- It is a waterproof oil
- It has a fast drying time
- It is non toxic
- It is great for surfaces that need to be food-safe
- It will improve the sheen of surfaces it is used on
- It is quite an easy finish to apply
- It has a unique elasticity giving it a more niche function
- It can also be used as a good primer
Disadvantages Of Danish Oil
- It will need regular maintenance to stay in good condition
- It is a less durable option than others that are on the market
- It can be a quite lengthy process to apply it
- It can only be used on bare woods
- It is highly flammable
- It does not have the same smoothing effect a lot of other finishes do
So while these points give a good first impression of what danish oil is good and bad for, some of these points may need further explanation for you to fully understand what they mean.
To get all the details you need on using danish oil keep reading to get the information you need!
Advantages Of Using Danish Oil
Danish oil is a very popular choice for a reason and has lots of positives because of this, in this section we will be going over all of these advantages, so you can understand why this finish is so widely used.
It Is A Waterproof Oil
One of the most significant contributing factors to danish oils' continued popularity is their complete resistance to potentially damaging liquids and water.
Water damage is one of the most frustrating factors to consider with woodworking and a lot of finishes do not properly combat it.
Danish oil on the other hand is an efficient method of giving your woodwork an attractive waterproof coating.
Danish oil is formed through the polymerization of very small particles, because of this it will have a very tight strong surface once it has properly dried.
This means that water molecules will not be able to penetrate this surface, so it is properly waterproofed.
This is a very strong water-resistant coating that will contain the wood in an atmospheric oxygen within a stronger polymerized strong structure.
It is almost impossible for any moisture to break through this surface, this makes danish oil a great choice for woodwork that will be stored outdoors like benches and tables.
As well as just being water-resistant, danish oil is also resistant to damage from alcoholic substances and damage from food being eaten off of it.
If you know that your surface will come into contact with a lot of moisture, danish oil is one of the best ways to deal with this.
It Has A Great Drying Time
A lot of finishes for wood, especially other ones that are more oil-based than water-based, can have an extended drying time that makes applying the stain very painful and frustrating.
Luckily danish oil does not have a problem with this, and you will not have to wait a long time before doing another coat.
Danish oil, on average has a pretty impressive drying time of 6 hours.
However, this is not a guarantee and can vary depending on a lot of factors that can and cannot be controlled.
For example, if your space is well ventilated this can affect the drying time, as well as how thick the layer you have applied is, you can control these factors.
However, you cannot control factors like your climate, humidity, and temperature easily, especially if you are working outdoors.
The main issues that will make your drying time drastically increase are having to deal with a colder climate and higher humidity.
If you know you will have these problems when applying the danish oil, make sure to take into account the drying time in your preparation.
But if you are in a warmer temperature with low humidity, you are lucky and your drying time should be pretty fast.
While 6 hours is not a guarantee for all brands of danish oil, it is the average you will be dealing with.
While having to dedicate a few days to get all of your layers of oil completed might sound like too much for beginners, for those who have used much longer finishes, this quick a wait time is greatly appreciated.
Danish Oil Is Non Toxic
A lot of wood finishes, while very attractive and durable, can be incredibly toxic meaning that you will have to fully ventilate your work area and make sure that pets and children are nowhere in the vicinity during application.
This, luckily, is not an issue for those working with danish oil. This means you can use it on children's toys and furniture that might end up in the mouth of those with less well-trained judgment.
This is because danish oil does not have any toxic components within it and when it has cured it will not be dangerous to anyone interacting with it.
However, this does not mean it is safe while it is still in its liquid form and is only safe once it has been cured.
It is much less toxic than a lot of other finishes, but you should still be careful with it before it has cured. So while it is safe when it is dried, be careful when it is still in its liquid form.
Danish Oil Is Food Safe
Linked to the previous point, but danish oil is great for use on woodwork which is being used for food products like kitchenware like plates, bowls, and cutlery.
This makes the use of danish oil a lot wider as a lot of wood finishes should not be ingested in any capacity even when they have cured.
Danish oil does not face this problem and can be used on a massive variety of woodwork.
If you know you will be working with a lot of products that will be used in the kitchen, danish oil is a great product to get used to using.
This even means that you can use danish oil on a butcher block which is a notoriously hard object to find a finish for.
This is because of the aforementioned polymerization that makes it so that once the oil has become completely cured it will not emit any harmful substances to the food it will be used on.
Make sure to not use any of your woodworking projects, especially on food, before the oil has completely cured.
If you are not sure that the oil has completely cured, give it more time to avoid the risk of ingesting the oil before it has become cured.
Patience is very important when working wood finishes, so working in a rush is never recommended.
Once your danish oil has bonded to your wood it will become inert stopping it from reacting to anything else which is not a feature every other wood finish has.
So make sure to give the oil enough time to cure as the results will be amazing once it is done.
Danish Oil Will Improve The Sheen
One of the main reasons that people will use a finish for wood surfaces is to make them more attractive, and while danish oil is very functional, it will also create a very attractive sheen.
If you are looking to improve the appearance of your woodwork, danish oil is a great choice.
Danish oil will absorb the wood and will give it protection from any defects as well as stopping any damage from becoming too visible to the surface.
As well as giving the woodwork an attractive finish, the glossy appearance of the danish oil finish is protecting your woodwork as well.
Danish oil has a signature dark color and a minimal sheen which has a pleasing aesthetic appeal.
If you want the oil to give the wood the best appearance possible, use at least 3 coats.
But once this has dried the wood will have an amazing appearance and will be great at protecting from and covering any visual imperfections.
Danish Oil Is Easy To Apply
Danish Oil is incredibly easy to apply and does not require many awkward tools just needing a paintbrush or a cloth to get good coverage.
You will want to apply the oil in the same direction as the grain of the wood to get the best results as this way it will penetrate the wood easily.
As previously mentioned you will want to wait for the oil to cure before moving on to another layer and 3 layers will get you the best results.
So while waiting for the oil to cure may be time-consuming, the application process itself is deceptively easy.
To simplify it here is a short step by step to exemplify how easy applying danish oil is:
Step By Step On How To Apply Danish Oil
- First sand your wood using 220 grit sandpaper to get the surface as smooth as possible
- Get rid of any excess dust
- Apply your first coat of danish oil using a cloth or brush in the direction of the grain
- Ensure that the oil soaks into the wood well
- Rub down the wood using a rag to achieve a nice smooth sheen
- After your wood has completely dried apply your second coat after you have rubbed the surface using 600 grit sandpaper and dipping the wood in your danish oil
- You will want to let your wood surface dry for at least 2 or 3 days
Due to the simplicity of this process, danish oil is an incredibly popular choice for wood finishing.
Danish Oil Is Uniquely Stretchy
While wood usually remains static, there are certain circumstances in which your wood could expand or shrink.
This will usually crack or break through the sheen of your finish, but danish oil has a unique elasticity means that it will adapt with your wood if its size changes.
This is because the polymerization of the danish oil even when fully cured has a stretchy texture.
So even if your wood changes, you will not see any damage done to the quality of your wood, and it will remain as well protected as before.
This makes the danish oil an incredibly popular choice as the elasticity also means that scratches, cracking, or any other obvious imperfections will eventually get covered.
Danish Oil Is Often Used As A Primer
As danish oil dries incredibly hard due to its polymerization process, it also finds us as a primer as well as a sealer.
This means you can apply it to a bare wood and then follow it up with another finish to get more customizable results.
It is possible to paint over any danish oil as long as you are using an oil based paint once your layer of danish oil has completely cured.
This means that any paint or stain you are putting on the wood will benefit from the protective features of the danish oil giving your wood bonus protection and helping protect from damages and imperfections.
This use of danish oil as a primer also means that your subsequent paints and stains will adhere to your wood better giving a stronger bond.
As you can tell from all of these points, there are plenty of reasons to use danish oil, so let’s move onto the disadvantages!
Disadvantages Of Using Danish Oil
Danish oil is very popular for a wide variety of uses, but this section of the article will go over all the reasons you may want to avoid using danish oil as well as highlighting the situations where it is not a viable option.
Danish Oil Needs Regular Maintenance
While a lot of wood finishes can be applied and once they have fully cured the process is over, unfortunately for users of danish oil, this is not where the maintenance ends.
So while the application process itself is not too demanding, the upkeep afterwards is a lot more than what other finishes require.
Once you have applied danish oil you will need to regularly clean the furniture it has been used on if you want it to retain its original appearance as well as to keep the wood looking refreshed.
While the polymeric oil structure that the oil is composed of is great for protection, it unfortunately doubles as a dust magnet, so while this dust will not become entrenched, it will impact the appearance of your objects.
To avoid dust sticking too much you will need to regularly polish and clean your woodworking projects after this finish has been applied.
Also, quite frustrating can be that reapplying 2 to 3 coats every year will be necessary if you want the wood to stay looking as fresh as possible.
Danish Oil Is Not The Most Durable Option
While danish oil is very compatible with most woods it is unfortunately not one of the most durable options and is outclassed by a lot more of the heavy-duty options available.
So while after initial curing the oil is pretty resistant to scratches and scuffs over the time this ability will begin to wear.
This is why reapplying the finish becomes such a vital part of the upkeep process. This is why a lot of people prefer to use danish oil as a primer for stronger more durable oil based finishes.
This level of upkeep is why a lot of people choose to not use this as a final finishing layer, especially for high traffic furniture that will show wear very easily.
If you are looking for more durable options going with a paint or varnish, or options like tung oil and polyurethane will give you the results you are looking for.
Some danish oils are more durable than others, for example, if one has a higher tung oil content, it is likely more durable.
You Need Patience To Work With Danish Oil
As previously mentioned, you will sometimes have to wait days in between layers of danish oil for it to properly cure before you move onto the next layer.
While this might not be a massive problem if it is your finish, if it is just a primer, there are likely more time efficient primers available.
While it will be effective once it has dried, often times people do not want to dedicate the weeks the oil may need to properly dry and cure.
After each coating it is also recommended to sand with a 600 grit sandpaper to get the best results.
Danish Oil Is Only A Viable Option For Bare Woods
Danish oil is only usable on bare woods that have not already been treated.
This is because the stain will need to be absorbed by the porous structure of a bare wood's grain and if there is anything covering this it will be ineffective.
This means that once the oil has been absorbed, as well as changing the woods' appearance, it can also start to effect the strength of the wood which can increase the likelihood of cracks and scratches appearing on the surface.
This is why extra care is recommended when using danish oil on woods like; willow, maple, alder, birch, and basswood.
Danish oil is also recommended to not be used on woodwork that will be used for cutting.
Danish Oil Is Very Flammable
As part of its chemical composition, danish oil is designed to harden upon reacting to the natural environment’s oxygen.
While this is what makes it quite an effective finish, it also means that it is volatile and will become flammable quite easily.
This is due to the liquid blend of hydrocarbons that are distilled with petroleum oil.
This means that you will need to be careful with your surfaces if fire is near as the oily surface of wood covered in danish oil can easily combust.
Make sure to be extra careful with rags that have been used to apply danish oil and make sure to be careful with your surroundings when applying it.
Danish Oil Does Not Smoothen The Wood’s Grain
Unfortunately danish oil does not have the smoothing effect that a lot of other finishes have and this is why a sanding is recommended between each layer to get the best results.
If you put danish oil onto an uneven, unsanded surface, the danish oil can actually make these imperfections more obvious rather than covering them up as many people would prefer.
So these are the main disadvantages of using danish oil, so make sure to balance these with the advantages when choosing if you want to use this style of finish on your wood.
Hopefully this article has fully assessed any questions you have about danish oil and let you know if it is correct for what you need it for! If you have any more questions about its use they are likely answered in the FAQ!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Danish Oil Usually Used For?
Danish oil is one of the most versatile wood finishing options, and while it needs re application relatively often it is still a very popular choice.
Amongst the objects it is used for it is most popular in use for: wooden handles, cutting boards, utensils and cutlery, worktops, butcher benches, and various types of furniture.
Look at examples of what you want to varnish with danish oil if you are not sure how effective it will be.
How Many Coats Of Danish Oil Are Needed?
This depends on the type of wood you are using and also how high traffic the object you are varnishing is, but on average you will need about 3 coats of danish oil for good results.
Will Danish Oil Work Well On Oak?
Danish oil works amazingly on oak woodwork as it will stop any cracking on the wood's surface as well as enhancing the natural appearance of oak wood surfaces.
It is also a great choice for oak wood floors, but this may need quite a few coats to get a durable finish.
Will Danish Oil Work Well On Pine?
Danish oil is also a good choice for pinewood creations as it will enhance the appearance of the pine and make it much more durable than it would be without the stain protecting it.
It also helps pine retain its color which tends to naturally fade. If you do not want your pine to crack or scratch, danish oil is a great choice.
Is It Possible To Wax Over Danish Oil?
No, you should not wax over a danish oil finish as it will not further protect the oil and will just attract dirt to its surface.
Around 3 coats of the oil will protect it more than any subsequent layers of wax that will just ruin the appearance and attract more dust.