I always do a test board using the finishes I’m considering for a project. This is the maple sample board for the bench build.
The left section has two coats of Danish Oil. The middle is two coats of BLO. It is noticeable in the first two sections the effect of the oil on the maple’s appearance. The wood took on a dirty and somewhat blotchy appearance that I did not care for.
Remember that the grain that is so striking in the first two sections also runs thru the right section.
For that reason I wanted to “smooth” it out with Sealcoat. The right section has one coat of Sealcoat shellac (1 lb. cut) followed by a light sanding and then two applications of BLO. However, after this test I wasn’t convinced much, if any, of the oil was working its way into the wood. So I decided to see how it would look if was more aggressive in sanding the Sealcoat.
The top section here is just Sealcoat. The bottom section also has Sealcoat but I was more aggressive in sanding it down. I then applied two coats of Danish Oil to the bottom section. I don’t know if it shows up on your screen, but the bottom section is slightly darker then the top section and also the right section of the first photo. That told me that the oil was definitely getting into the wood better but not too much.
Another reason for the test board is I wanted to feel how slick the different finishes were. The right section in the first photo (sealcoat, lightly sanded, 2 coats of BLO) had a slicker feel that the rest did. This was the section where the Sealcoat was only lightly sanded. In the final test section I sanded more of the Sealcoat away to mirror the final test section.
Satisfied, I applied it to the bench.
-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR