Danish oil advantages and disadvantages are the main consideration when choosing Danish oil for your woodworking project. This product is a drying oil with many beneficial properties, ideal for finishing nearly all wood types.
However, with so many wood finishing products in the market, you need to compare Danish oil advantages and disadvantages with other competing products to make an informed decision.
If you have a DIY project coming up, this tutorial is for you. We have put together a comprehensive list of Danish oil advantages and disadvantages to help you choose without doing the research yourself.
What is Danish Oil?
Danish oil is an oil-based wipe-on finish consisting mainly of linseed oil, Tung oil, and mineral spirits. This wipe-on finish varies from one manufacturer to another due to the special ingredients that manufacturers include in their respective products.
The oil does not have a standard mixing ratio across various manufacturers, so it may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, you can always buy your product from a leading brand and ensure it will do the job.
Alternatively, you can create your own Danish oil by mixing ingredients with drying agents such as Tung oil, natural oil, and boiled linseed oil.
While making this wood oil on your own, steer clear of oils that do not dry, such as mineral oil. You might also consider adding turpentine from pine trees to give off a nice scent.
Regardless of the variations in the formula, the Danish oil advantages and disadvantages in this tutorial cut across, so they should apply to any brand you will buy.
Danish Oil Advantages as a Wood Finish
If you are deciding on the finish to use on your wood, here are some of the reasons to choose Danish oil.
It provides resistance to chemical damage
Woods coated with Danish wood oil are relatively more resistant to chemicals than untreated wood. Whether indoors or outdoors, a Danish oil finish can protect your wooden furniture, toys, or other wooden items against damage from accidental chemical spills.
It offers some level of scratch resistance
Danish oil dries to form a relatively elastic coat on the wood surface. This means it can withstand the regular expansion and contraction of wood in different temperatures. The temperature changes will not affect the quality of protection it offers your wood.
More importantly, the elasticity means the wood surface becomes resistant to minor scratches that might occur from day-to-day activities. When fully polymerized, the oil dries to form a protective film on the wood surface.
Different wood types expand and contract differently with temperature fluctuations. Danish oil is an excellent finish for woods that expand significantly as the temperature rises and falls. Its elasticity ensures it keeps protecting the wood despite the expansion and shrinkage.
It does not change color over time
One of the key areas of concern when choosing a finish is how it will affect the wood’s color. The main reason people go for clear coating is to retain their wood’s natural beauty. However, some products tend to yellow over time or introduce an amber tint to the wood once you apply it.
The yellowing can be a deal-breaker for people who prefer the wood’s natural beauty. Thankfully, Danish oil maintains its color without yellowing over time.
This means the oil will protect your wood without denying you the pleasure of seeing its grain pattern and natural color.
Danish oil dries relatively fast
The oil typically dries to the touch in under 6 hours, much faster than most other wood finishes and oils. The majority of film-forming wood finishes require a minimum of 24 hours of drying time. Some, such as tung oil takes up to 48 hours or longer before drying completely.
Unless the weather is particularly humid or chilly, you can use your finished wood in less than six hours of applying Danish oil on it.
Like any finishing product, cold or suboptimal weather can significantly prolong the drying time. But this will only be a matter of hours for Danish oil, unlike other products that can take days.
The oil is food-safe
Danish oil is one of the few wood finishes you can use on food handling products such as wooden chopping boards, salad bowls, banisters, kitchen cupboards, and kitchenware without any risks.
It can also be used to treat butcher blocks to make them more durable. Other wood finishes can be toxic when allowed to interact with food through food-handling items.
Their range of uses is limited to non-food handling tools and materials such as household furniture, paneling, railings, wooden floors, and decks.
Because of the ingredients that make Danish oil food safe, its range of uses is much wider, making it a versatile wood finish. It bonds with wood and becomes inert.
This explains why it is safe to use the oil on items used for food handling. In any case, it is recommended to let the oil dry and cure fully before putting the item to use.
It is waterproof
The oil consists of particles capable of reacting to atmospheric oxygen and polymerizing into a strong water-resistant layer. It forms an impervious coat on the wood surface that water and moisture cannot penetrate as it cures.
Using Danish oil on wood protects the wood from water damage. It creates a watertight seal on the wood surface, blocking off its pores so that water and moisture cannot seep into it.
Therefore, using Danish oil on outdoor wood furniture can go a long way in protecting it from rotting and decaying.
Danish oil is non-toxic
Danish oil is safe to use on indoor and outdoor applications since it will not poison the environment. In addition, the oil is environmentally friendly and safe for use around children and pets.
You can use the oil on any household furniture and other wooden items, including baby toys, without causing any health problems or environmental degradation. While the oil is made of different ingredients, it generally contains no chemical additives or toxins.
The product improves the sheen of the wood
Woods generally look better with Danish oil than when untreated. Applying the oil on the wood surface gives it an instant facelift, with a characteristic low sheen that gives the wood a slightly glossy appearance.
The low sheen means the wood treated with Danish oil is neither dull nor too bright or shiny to the eye. The oil penetrates the wood grain slightly, offering protection from the elements while also enhancing the appearance with its film-forming quality.
The oil is easy to apply
Danish oil does not require any special skills to apply. You only need a clean, lint-free rag or a couple of paper towels to rub it onto the wood surface. Once it has covered the entire surface evenly, you can wipe off the excess oil to let the coat dry.
Every coat should be dry to the touch within a few hours so you can add subsequent coats. Usually, three coats of Danish oil should be enough protection for your wood.
Each application is straightforward and quick and will create the desired sheen on any well-prepared wood surface.
While most products require the careful following of the wood grain during the application, Danish oil can create the desired finish without necessarily following a specific direction.
You only need to apply the oil evenly by wiping it onto the wood surface. This ease of application means anyone can achieve great results with Danish oil regardless of their skill levels.
If you are new to woodworking, Danish oil may be an excellent product to use on your wood due to the ease of using it. You will only need to follow a handful of easy steps to get the finish you want.
Danish oil can work as a base coat or Primer
Since the oil is hard-drying, it can double up as a primer or sealer. It typically does no bare wood, meaning you sand the wood and wipe it clean, then apply the oil.
The Danish oil will enter pores in the wood, sealing and priming them when you intend to apply a different product over it.
Any oil-based topcoat should work over a base coat of Danish oil. For instance, you can apply an oil-based paint, stain, varnish, and more with the oil acting as the preliminary sealer or primer to the bare wood in this case. You can also apply both water-based and oil-based polyurethane over danish oil.
Just ensure the Danish oil layer is completely cured before applying anything over it. Coating over the base coat before it dries and cures entirely can cause drying problems and affect the quality of the finish.
If you do it correctly, using the oil as a sealer or primer can help the topcoat adhere better to the wood. This will ensure a more durable finish and enhanced protection.
Disadvantages of Danish oil
Despite numerous advantages, this oil has its share of disadvantages that you may want to consider while deciding upon it.
It forms a less durable film than other finishes
Unless you use the product as a base coat with another film-forming top coat over it, the quality of protection it offers may not be the best. It will protect your wood from the get-go, but the protection will wear out much sooner than paint or other finishes would.
The limited durability is due to the thin film Danish oil forms on the wood surface. Regular wear and tear from daily activities can overwhelm and damage it soon.
So, if you have to rely on Danish oil for your wood’s protection, you must consider reapplying it from time to time. Such frequent reapplication can mean more work in the long run than, say, a polyurethane finish, varnished, or painted surface.
Tung oil also tends to last longer on wood surfaces than Danish oil, making it another more durable option.
The oil requires regular maintenance
Aside from having to reapply the oil from time to time to maintain its protection, a Danish oil film may not withstand heavy scratching and impact, so you must handle products treated with this oil with care to avoid premature damage.
And, since Danish oil is only slightly scratch resistant, it does not hold up too well against everyday wear and tear. This means it will wear out sooner than most other finishes, even if you give it the best care possible.
Furniture or wooden items with Danish oil also require regular cleaning to look immaculate. Otherwise, the surface will easily trap dust and accumulate dirt, making it appear weathered and unappealing before long.
Danish oil is relatively time-consuming to apply
You typically have to wait for the Danish oil coat to dry completely to apply another coat. Often, it will be dry to the touch in about four to eight hours.
It is generally safe to lightly sand the coated surface and apply a subsequent coat, although waiting at least 24 hours may give you better results.
Going by these timelines, you clearly cannot finish the work in one day. Since you need at least three coats of the oil for maximum protection, you are looking at about three or more days of application timeline.
This is as opposed to a product such as Thompson’s Water waterproofing stains that you can apply and finish in the same day, reducing your project timeline to just a single day.
Ideally, working with Danish oil requires some patience. You will have to wait for about a day after each coat. And if you are working on an outdoor project, bad weather can be a significant challenge.
You can only apply it on bare wood
You must clean and sand wood to apply Danish oil to it. You cannot use the oil on top of another finish.
This quality means more work if you intend to use the oil on a previously finished wood. You would have to strip down the previous wood to bare wood before you can apply the oil.
Additionally, Danish oil darkens the wood color despite not altering it. Therefore, if you are overly interested in the wood’s natural color, you may want to test the oil in some inconspicuous part of the wood before going all in.
The oil can cause the risk of fire
Danish oil may catch fire due to spontaneous combustion. It consists of flammable ingredients, creating a fire hazard when you work with Danish oil.
The oil has a high likelihood of igniting when it comes into contact with oxygen in the atmosphere.
You can minimize the risk by ensuring there is no combustion source nearby. Also, be sure to handle the Danish oil-soaked rags carefully, hanging them at a safe place outside until they are dry to minimize the risk of spontaneous fire.
The oil does not smoothen the wood
You must always sand the wood after each coating when working with Danish oil since it does not smoothen the wood grain by itself.
Wet sanding is required after every coat to even out the surface and create a smooth sheen.
So, while Danish oil is easy to use, it requires following the correct procedure to achieve the best results. Missing a step in the application process can affect the final outcome.
Despite the few limitations, Danish oil is still one of the best wood finishes available in the market.
Danish Oil Advantages and Disadvantages
|It provides resistance to chemical damage||It forms a less durable film than other finishes|
|It offers some level of scratch resistance||The oil requires regular maintenance|
|It does not change color over time||Danish oil is relatively time-consuming to apply|
|Danish oil dries relatively fast||You can only apply it on bare wood|
|The oil is food-safe||The oil can cause the risk of fire|
|It is waterproof||The oil does not smoothen the wood|
|Danish oil is non-toxic|
|The product improves the sheen of the wood|
|The oil is easy to apply|
|Danish oil can work as a base coat or Primer|
What is the Best Way to Apply Danish Oil?
Danish oil is easy to apply with a clean rag or paper towels. Nonetheless, you need to follow the right procedure and use the correct tools to get the best results.
Step 1: Sand the wood with fine 220-grit sandpaper, preferably on a sanding block, to get a nice and smooth surface.
Step 2: Use a tack cloth to wipe away the sanding dust.
Step 3: Apply the first of Danish oil with a clean, lint-free rag. Saturate the clean white cloth with the product and rub it evenly across the entire surface. Leave the oil on for a few minutes to soak into the wood.
Step 4: Rub the wood with a clean paper towel or rag to remove the excess oil and create a beautiful, smooth sheen.
Step 5: Leave the wood for four to eight hours to dry. You could also leave it to dry for 24 hours.
Step 6: Apply the second coat the same way you did the first once you feel the wood is sufficiently dry. But first, ensure you scuff sand the surface with ultra-fine 400-grit sandpaper dampened with Danish oil.
Step 7: Leave the surface to dry for a further 24 hours and then add the third coat. Ensure you scuff sand the surface with 400-grit sandpaper before applying the subsequent coat of Danish oil.
When you are happy with the coverage, you can leave the wood to cure completely for one to two days. If the weather is chilly, you could leave it to dry for longer, often up to three days.
With the three coats of Danish oil, the wood should be sufficiently protected from moisture and water damage, and it should have a beautiful sheen.
Should I Sand Between Coats of Danish Oil?
Yes, you generally get an even and smoother finish by when you lightly ‘wet’ sand between coats of Danish oil, especially the second and third coats.
Danish oil best dries overnight, so you need to give it 24 hours before recoating. And since it goes on thin, consider applying at least three coats for adequate coverage.
What Can You Use Danish Oil for?
The oil penetrates the wood grain and is ideal for nearly any wood type. You can use it to coat wood paneling, cabinets, wooden tool handles, kitchen worktops, and other household furniture.
Since it is food safe, you can also use it to finish salad bowls, butcher blocks, wood utensils, cutting boards, and surfaces that come in contact with food.
It dries hard and gives better protection for various types of wood. It also enhances the wood’s appearance by darkening its color, making its grain appear more pronounced.
Can You Use Danish Oil on Pine?
Yes, Danish Oil is one of the best finishes for pine. It is a hard-wearing and relatively durable finish that works well with the tight grains of pinewood.
Apply at least three coats of the oil to help prevent the pinewood from staining, protect it from water and moisture damage while enhancing its natural grain beauty.
You can apply the oil on furniture, flooring, paneling, cabinetry, framing, and several other pinewood items.
Aside from enhancing the beauty of these pinewood items, the oil will go a long way in protecting the wood from discoloration, cracking, and scratching. Click here to learn more about danish oil on pine.
Is Danish Oil Good for Oak?
Danish oil is an excellent finish for oak. It provides oak with superior protection against water damage and helps prevent it from staining. It also makes oak easier to clean and maintain by reducing marks on the wood’s surface.
You can use Danish oil to treat oak furniture and other wooden items made of oak. It will make them less susceptible to cracking, staining, and discoloration compared to untreated oak.
Can You Wax over Danish Oil?
Waxing over Danish oil is not recommended. Wax does not provide surface protection, so it is not suitable for top coating. Instead, it will attract dust and dirt, making the wood more challenging to maintain.
Three coats of Danish oil should be plenty for protecting any wood unless you want to use it as a base coat or primer for oil-based paints or varnish.
How Many Coats of Danish Oil Should You Use?
Danish oil typically requires a minimum of three coats. This is because each coat of Danish oil is thin, so you need to apply at least three of them for optimum coverage and strength.
If you want a more robust finish, you can apply more coats, such as four or five, sanding lightly between each coat.
Is Danish oil waterproof?
Danish oil is water-resistant, making it a popular choice for sealing porous woods and protecting them from moisture and water damage.
How long does a Danish oil finish last?
The shelf life of an unopened can of oil-based Danish oil is around 2 to 3 years. Once opened but well-sealed, the oil can last approximately one year. However, the shelf life will be shorter if he can is not well-sealed.
Can you varnish over Danish oil?
Yes, you can apply an oil-based varnish over a coat of Danish oil to provide even better protection for the wood. Varnish adheres to the oil finish since the oil dries hard.
These Danish oil advantages and disadvantages pretty much cover everything you need to know about the product.
However, whether you are a Danish oil enthusiast or not, you will notice that it has some appealing strengths that could benefit your projects.
We hope this guide helps you decide better on using Danish oil for your next woodworking project. Please leave a comment below if you have any thoughts or observations.