Cherry blotching with Watco's natural danish oil??

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Forum topic by RobFM posted 10-26-2011 08:20 PM 9458 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2458 days

10-26-2011 08:20 PM

Topic tags/keywords: blotching watco danish oil question

I recently completed a jewelry box built entirely from cherry. I know cherry can be hard to stain, but I have used danish oil without issues in the past and I never heard of blotching when using a “natural” oil finish.

Unfortunately, it did not seem to work out very well this time. It is not the worst finish I have ever seen, but in good light, the top of the box looks pretty blotchy.

Since I have not seen this problem in the past, I am wondering if it was my technique, or maybe just a “bad” piece of wood.

I applied one coat using a 400 grit sandpaper to create a bit of a slurry, as suggested by some Lumberjocks and others on the web. I then let it sit for about 15 minutes and wiped off the excess. A few days later I repeated the process. I didn’t notice the blotches after the first coat, but I am not really sure if they were there or not.

So I now ask; 1) Is the wet sanding a bad idea, 2) Should I have pre-treated with some kind of conditioner, and 3) Is there any good technique for clean removal so I can start over?

Relative to question #3, I am reluctant to sand or plane it off because detail work that I did on the edges would likely be damaged.


Rob FM

6 replies so far

View RockyTopScott's profile


1184 posts in 2896 days

#1 posted 10-26-2011 10:57 PM

How did you sand before applying the oil?

Look at for Charles’ conditioner. Works great.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

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297 posts in 3406 days

#2 posted 10-27-2011 03:10 AM

The more figure a piece of wood has, the more prone it is to blotching. A piece of highly figured crotch walnut will turn nearly black with the addition of just an (almost) clear varnish. The oil is what causes the change. Doesn’t matter if it’s BLO .. WATCO .. DANISH .. 10W30 .. the absorption of oil will cause the blotchies.

Charles Neil’s Blotch Control, along with dye(s) of your choice are about foolproof. If you have spray equipment, you can also “dust” or “mist” very light coats of dye onto the surface … just don’t let them get wet enough to penetrate, or … yep … blotchies again.

Other conditioners work to various degrees, but, in general what they do is temporarily block the finish from penetrating … then dissipate into the wood. Notice Minwax’s conditioner has you wait for a short time, then apply your stain/finish. Their conditioner is only effective for a short time, after which it will either evaporate or dissipate, making it much less effective. Again, they resist the ability of your finish to penetrate. Shallow penetration = no blotchies. A very thin washcoat of shellac will do about the same thing for you. However you accomplish it, your goal is to minimize the penetration of a solvent based finish, including dyes and stains.

-- - dabbling in sarcasm is foolish … if you’re not proficient at it, you end up looking stupid … ... ...

View RobFM's profile


4 posts in 2458 days

#3 posted 10-27-2011 02:52 PM


I initially planed the flat surface with a very sharp smoothing plane and then sanded starting with 180 and going up to 320. The surface looked good before applying the oil.

I have used Minwax conditioner in the past when staining and I have also used sealers, but I am not confident that either of those should be used with danish oil. If it blocks absorption completely, like a sealer, the oil will just pool on top and would serve no function. I suspect that a solvent-like conditioner could be used, but I am not sure if it would interfere with the drying/polymerization process.

The Charles Neil’s conditioner looks like it is good product. I will have to try it.

Rob FM

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1602 posts in 3288 days

#4 posted 10-27-2011 11:23 PM

yep cherry will do this, even the natural color has a tint of amber to it, and the soft grain ( the blotch) will absorb more and show as a blotch, the good news is, usually as cherry ages, it darkens, and as it does the blotch seems to go away for the most part, its a case of the cherry darkening enough to off set the amber the oil imparted, as well often any oil or solvent based product, can cause this, its more of a reaction of the chemicals and oils with the wood than the actual color of the oil,,,

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1184 posts in 2896 days

#5 posted 10-27-2011 11:38 PM

Rob, you just got your answer from a master. Take Sir Charles’ response and enjoy.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View planeBill's profile


506 posts in 1827 days

#6 posted 10-28-2011 04:28 AM

I am having some really fine results with Landark Northwest oil system for timberframe homes right now on cherry. I absolutely love this finishing system. I have used it with outstanding results on quartersawed white oak, which was fumed with ammonia, and cherry which I am building my bedroom suit of right now. I sand to 320 and then burnish the wood with a white scotchbrite pad and that seems to give me some pretty nice results, even on cherry with a little figure in it. YMMV
Has anyone else ever heard of or used Landark’s oils? I don’t seem to ever see it mentioned on any of the normal woodworking sites. Give them a checkout. In my opinion they make the best oil finishing system going.

-- I was born at a very young age, as I grew up, I got older.

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