Finishing : After 3 to 4 coats of Danish Oil, what's next?

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Forum topic by woodworm posted 04-05-2009 03:12 PM 106391 views 2 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View woodworm's profile


14468 posts in 3617 days

04-05-2009 03:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing question

I’m strarting to learn using oil finish like Danish Oil, Tung Oil and Linseed Oil to my project. With no past experience, I keep refering to my books on finishing. As far as finishing is concerned, I’m a slow learner.
So far I just know how to apply shellac as sealer and lacquer as top-coat finish and another one shoe wax on bare wood.

Starting with Danish Oil, here are my questions:-
1) Is sanding necessary in beatween coat of Danish Oil?
2) After 3-4 coats of Danish Oil, can I apply polyurethane or varnish? (I doubt they compatible)
3) Without applying toap-coat finish like poly/varnish, can I apply paste wax and buff it?
4 Once I’ve applied paste wax, over time the it may become dull. Do I need to reapply Danish Oil or just wax it and buff.

Thank you for reading and answering.
Have a nice day.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

13 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4244 days

#1 posted 04-05-2009 03:52 PM


2)Yes, poly over danish oil works great. Just be sure to let the oil cure for several days, or else the poly will take forever to dry.


4) Once you wax, the wax is going to act as a shield to keep oil from penetrating in the future. So you’d probably just want to re-wax.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View bigwoodturner's profile


231 posts in 3371 days

#2 posted 04-05-2009 04:06 PM

Ok, I always sand between oil coats. I use pure walnut oil normally if I am doing an oil finish. Yes I do sand between coats, every coat. No polly or varnish on top. Now I will tell you how to put that on top of oil. Shellac is the universal finish meaning it can go over or under any other finish. Put a seal coat of shellac over the oil and lightly sand it. Do this again, then you can apply the polly or varnish. If you arer just putting wax over the oil you only need to reapply the wax. Get ready for some hard core buffing though. You can use a wax called Rennisance though it is a micro crystilan and is so easy to use but expensive.

Well now that the two of us have you confused I will try to help. If the oil is compleately dry on the surface the polly will bond to the wood grain. The smoother the surface or the more you close the grain the less the adherance of the polly. Polly and varnish have to have something to adhere to that is why you have to sand between coats or over time they will flake. Oils, laquer and any other solvent based finishes molecularlly bond meaning they fuse or melt the previous coat and become part of that previous coat on a mollecular base. If a piece has oil under polly and the surface has a dramatic temperature change the oil wiil bleed no matter how long it cured. This is why I say no to polly over oil. Just my opinion and experience.

-- Dale

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3848 days

#3 posted 04-05-2009 04:07 PM

Woodworm, Charlie has answered your question but I would like to add one point (you know I can’t pass us a finishing question without making a comment). :) With regards to the compatibility issue that you raised in (2) Danish oil is a mixture of boiled linseed oil, varnish and solvents, such as mineral spirits, so it is fully compatible with polyurethane or varnishes.

If you want to rejuvenate the finish if it becomes dull after applying wax then, as Charlie said, you will need to remove the wax by wiping with mineral spirits, lightly sand the surface and re-apply a topcoat of your choice.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4154 days

#4 posted 04-05-2009 04:52 PM

Note: Watco Danish oil, a popular brand, contains RAW LINSEED OIL not boiled linseed oil.
Given that it contains 75% solvent and minimum grade ingredients, it is horribly expense.

There are no industry standards on the ingredients and formulations for so-called “Danish Oil.”
While usually a blend of solvents (mineral spirits, naptha, turpentine, citrus oil, etc.) , drying oils (linseed, tung or modified soya, etc.) and varnish (alkyd, phenolic, or polyurethane, etc.), the actual ingredients tend to vary wildly among manufacturers.

One manufacturer sells a Danish Oil that is 100% Polymerized Linseed Oil.
Another uses tung oil and solvent, without any varnish.

If you want to strike the grain before applying a top coat of poly, consideration using BLO or tung oil diluted with mineral spirits, about one part drying oil and two parts mineral spirits. Apply once and allow at least three days (a week is better) to dry.

-- 温故知新

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4090 days

#5 posted 04-05-2009 06:08 PM

Dr Goodwood is right. Commercial Danish Oils vary considerably in content and are expensive. Mix up your own with equal parts BLO or Tung oil, Mineral spirits and an alkyd or polyurethane oil based varnish. If you already have oiled your piece, wait 72 hours until the finish is cured, scuff sand it with 320 grit, remove the sanding dust and then you may apply straight varnish if you wish without the shellac barrier coat. You could skip the Danish altogether is you wanted to, and just make a wiping varnish by thinning the varnish with Mineral Spirits or VMP Naptha by equal parts.

If you are using an open grained wood, start with the Danish oil, sanding it in with 400 or 600 grit wet/dry (auto body) paper. The sanding dust and Danish mixture will fill the grain. Just a light wipe across the grain with a Danish oil moistened rag after sanding will leave enough packed in to the grain to make things smooth. You might have to lay down several coats, progressing from 400 to 600 grit in the application process, probably no more than three, as the Danish will not provide additional protection to the finish. It just will cure too soft to create a true film finish.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View woodworm's profile


14468 posts in 3617 days

#6 posted 04-05-2009 06:50 PM

Thank you Charlie, Dale, Scott Bryan, Randy and Douglas for your kind advise, tips and explanation. I made first try applying one coat of Danish Oil to my scraper holder I made few days ago from pallete board. I hope to put another 3 coats before applying wood wax (paste wax) and hand-buff it.
Kindly check out my blog under the title “Learning to apply Danish Oil on small Project – Scraper Holder”
I’m sorry I do not kno how to link it here.

Thank you everyone for reading and replying.
God bless you all.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4244 days

#7 posted 04-05-2009 08:10 PM

The bottom line is to take all these bits of advice, experiment for yourself, and find what works best for you.

The 3rd law of woodworking states that “The number of different responses to any question regarding finishing techniques will always be exactly the same as the number of woodworkers responding to the question.”

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View bigwoodturner's profile


231 posts in 3371 days

#8 posted 04-05-2009 08:26 PM

Charlie, gave you the best advise just now. You have to experiment with every technique you just recieved and find out what works best for you. That is called initiative, but you passed my only wood working rule to get information out of me, You took the initiative and asked.

-- Dale

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3381 days

#9 posted 04-05-2009 10:35 PM

And If it doesn’t work it is called experience!

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3699 days

#10 posted 04-05-2009 10:59 PM

Buy the book by Bob Flexner called “Understanding Wood Finishing” Read it a few times, go back to specific sections prior to doing any finishing.

View woodworm's profile


14468 posts in 3617 days

#11 posted 04-06-2009 02:45 AM

Hi everyone, that’s is OK with me having received many different answers which I think it is mostly related to approch of doing it. Even in a few books on furniture finishing I have read, there are deviations from one author to another, and they are just techniques and approches. The basic and fundamental is still the same.

And in this context, I agree with Charlie and Dale, take all advice, experiment it to find out what works best for me and I’m comfortable with.

Again, thank you everyone for you time, reading and responding my question, things that I could not get from books.
Have a nice day.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View steve's profile


363 posts in 2019 days

#12 posted 02-18-2013 01:41 AM

I apply Watco Danish Oil Natural after sanding to 220. If it’s a top, like a dresser top or table top, I sand to 320.
I apply the Oil wet, not a flood, but wet, with a t-shirt piece (everything I am going to apply will be with a cotton T-shirt) I let it sit for 15 mins and wipe dry! Then I do it again, right away.
I let it dry, gas-off, for 4 days.
Then I use Arm-R-Seal, agin w/T-shirt, I put it on softly, always leading my wet lines together, keep it looking wet, but not too wet, just enough, one soaking of the piece of T goes a while.
Never let a dry streak appear “as” your applying it.
Let it dry for 24 hrs.
Sand with 220 after first coat.
Apply the same way, again.
Buff 2nd coat with #0000 steel wool, softly, do not rub hard, just have your hand on the pad and rub, fast at times produces a nice non-scratchy look.
let it dry 24.
Apply again.
Do not buff the 3rd or 4th coat…if you want a fourth, just apply on top of the 3rd after 24 hrs.
“IF” there are any lint, type bumps, and there shouldn’t be, but if, steel wool very lightly, after it dried 24 hrs.,
Buff very softly with the #0000 wool, but make sure you make consistent buffing marks…I try to go WITH the grain, VERY softly, steel wool is ok, but can leave scuff marks if you don’t try to be consistent.

Apply wax after your last coat dried 24 hours. apply very thin, let dry 1-4 hours and “lightly, but in all directions…buff lightly, in with the grain, then against the grain then in circles then with the grain, get every where., buff to a awesome sheen!I usually put 2 coats of Goddards wax, letting the first coat sit overnight.
In prefer Goddards ONLY.

-- steve/USA

View axwnj's profile


1 post in 1890 days

#13 posted 04-19-2013 01:56 AM

I’m just learning to refinish wood furniture. I want to renew the finish on some solid wood mid-century chairs. I think they’re maple. I want to know if using Danish Oil on chairs is appropriate. I don’t want the oil to get on people’s clothes. If I follow the basic finishing as suggested above (multiple coats, and letting them dry in between) will the Danish Oil dry to a hard finish, and how long should I let it dry after the last coat before letting people use the chairs? Thank you.

Also…can the rags used to apply Danish Oil be washed and reused, or do I need to toss them?

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