A Guide on Danish Oil Finish — Is it Good for Wood?

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When it comes to woodworking, many folks opt for oil finishes because they’re tough and bring out the wood’s inherent charm. However, it’s crucial to pick the right kind of oil finish; otherwise, you might run into some serious wood-related trouble.

So, I’ve put together a comprehensive guide on using Danish oil finish to give you the lowdown and help you figure out if it’s the right fit for your project.

What Is Danish Oil?

Danish oil is the preferred wood finish of most woodworkers due to its unique formula and excellent features. It protects the wood from harsh elements while also enhancing its aesthetic appeal.

Essentially, it’s a mixture of varnish, mineral spirits, and oil that are formulated to easily penetrate the wood. It gives your wood surface a natural, flawless semi-gloss finish.

Typically, Danish oil can be applied to the wood surface to maintain its finish, but you can also mix it with other types of wood finishes if you want different effects.

What is danish oil

This mixture is durable and highly resistant to moisture and water damage, extending the lifespan of your wood pieces.

Where is it Used + Is it a Good Wood Finish?

Danish oil is primarily used to protect the wood against moisture and surface damages like scuffs and scratches. But it is also a popular choice for enhancing the natural beauty of the wood.

It penetrates the wood pores and highlights its beautiful grains and patterns, making the wood look more vibrant and appealing. Generally, Danish oil can be used as a finish in many applications, such as the following:

Furniture: It’s a popular choice for finishing furniture due to its durability and excellent ability to improve the aesthetic value of your furniture.

Exterior applications: Danish oil can be used on your outdoor furniture, fences, decks, and other structures that are exposed to harsh elements. It is formulated to protect your wood against weathering, moisture, and sun damage.

Is it good for wood finish

Flooring: You can also use Danish oil on your hardwood flooring to protect them from wear and tear and maintain its outstanding appearance.

Wooden utensils: Since Danish oil is non-toxic, it’s also ideal for your kitchen utensils, such as wooden bowls, cutting boards, and other decorative pieces, to protect them from liquid and moisture damage. 

Overall, Danish oil is considered a good finish for wood. It is easy to maintain and can be reapplied to refresh the finish and prevent the wood surface from turning gray and dull over time.

Although it may not be as durable as other finishes like polyurethane, with proper maintenance and choosing high-quality Danish oil, your wood pieces can last longer and retain their beauty for many years.

How to Create Your Own Danish Oil Blend

Danish oil is readily available in the market, but alternatively, you can make your own Danish oil mixture.

painting over tung oil finish

This way, you can ensure the quality of your finish, and you save more money. It’s a straightforward process using simple and easy-to-obtain ingredients.

To make your own Danish oil mixture, you must blend varnish, thinner or mineral spirits, and finishing oil.

But the composition depends on the type of application you’ll use it for, so it’s important to follow the correct formula to achieve the Danish oil mixture appropriate for your project.

Below are the compositions you can follow depending on your purpose.

Application Type 


Danish oil mixture for wear and tear 

1/2 poly or varnish; 1/4 mineral spirits; 1/4 oil

Danish oil mixture for extra protection

1/4 poly or varnish; 1/4 mineral spirits; 1/2 oil

Danish oil mixture for regular application

1/3 poly or varnish; 1/3 mineral spirits; 1/3 oil

Tips on Making Your Danish Oil

blending danish oil

To help you create your Danish oil finish that is more durable and can make your wood pieces look more exquisite, below are the important things you must keep in mind:

How to Apply Danish Oil on Wood

Danish oil is relatively easy to apply on wood because of its unique formulation, which can easily penetrate deep into the wood grain.

It can adhere to the wood surface even without meticulous preparation. Follow the steps below to apply Danish oil on wood effectively.

Supplies You’ll Need

Step #1: Prepare the Surface

applying oil

It is important to prepare the wood surface to help the Danish oil penetrate the wood easily and adhere to the surface properly.

Sanding the surface will help open the pores of the wood and allow it to absorb the Danish oil thoroughly.

This will create a stronger bond between the oil and the wood, making the wood more durable.

Also, sanding the wood using fine-grit sandpaper, preferably 120-grit, 150-grit, or 400-grit, can make the surface smoother, resulting in a flawless and uniform finish.

Step #2. Applying the Danish Oil Using a Brush

Use a brush to apply the Danish oil to the wood. It’s necessary to soak the wood with an adequate amount of oil and let it penetrate the wood grains.

Using tung oil

Avoid using a rag for the first coat because the Danish oil dries quickly, and the cloth will absorb the oil instead.

If you’re worried about the brush strokes, you can remove them in the succeeding steps. But you must first ensure to apply Danish oil evenly on the entire surface. You can work in small sections to avoid overlaps and drips.

Before moving on to the next stage, it is important to let the Danish oil settle on the wood surface for a duration of 20 minutes. 

During this period, it is crucial to allow the oil to penetrate and interact with the wood effectively, ensuring optimal results in the subsequent steps of the process.

Step #3: Wipe Off the Wood Surface

Once the wood has thoroughly absorbed the Danish oil, use a clean rag to wipe the wood surface and remove the drips and excess oil.

You must also gently rub the surface with a lint-free rag to remove the brush marks and make the surface more even.

danish oil

Step #4: Dry for 6 Hours

Although Danish oil dries faster, you should leave it for at least six hours to allow the wood grains to completely dry. This can help the wood to be more durable and make the finish last longer.

Step #5: Apply Danish Oil Using a Cloth

For the second coat, use a lint-free cloth to apply the Danish oil on the wood. Soak the cloth with a generous amount of Danish oil, then gently wipe it on the surface along the wood grains’ directions.

Ensure to cover the entire surface, including the nooks and crannies. Once the second coat is dry to the touch, get a clean rag and wipe the surface to remove the excess oil.

Step #6: Lightly Sand the Surface

Use 400-grit sandpaper soaked in Danish oil, then lightly scuff the wood surface. You can also use abrasive pads instead of sandpaper.

Wet sandpaper or abrasive pads reduce the heat applied during sanding and prevent surface damage. Also, it does not leave any sanding debris or dust on the wood surface.

Removing sand dust

Step #7: Apply 3 to 5 Coats

Depending on the finish that you want to achieve and the type of Danish oil you’re using, you may apply three to five coats. Allow the prior coat to fully dry before applying the subsequent coats.

Also, lightly sand the surface in between coats to help the Danish oil adhere properly and stay longer.

Step #8: Apply Polyurethane for Extra Protection

Once the last coat of Danish oil has dried completely, apply polyurethane over it to give extra protection to your wood and ensure that the Danish oil will last longer.

But avoid applying too much poly as a top coat since it will give an oily finish look to the wood. Only one coat of poly is enough to protect the wood while maintaining its natural look.

Step #9. Dry the Coat and Cure

Allow the Danish oil coats to dry for at least six hours and wait for at least 14 days to completely cure before using the wood. Once it has dried and cured, you will see its beautiful final color.

Drying wood

How Danish Oil Works on Wood?

Danish oil finish may have different effects depending on the type of wood you’re using. It also depends on the characteristics of your wood, such as density, porosity, grains, and patterns. These factors can affect how the wood absorbs the Danish oil and interacts with it.

For instance, some woods may require more coats or may absorb the oil readily. Additionally, the color of the wood can affect the final appearance of the wood once you apply the Danish oil.

Consequently, some woods may lighten or darken once they absorb the oil. So, you better test first the effect of Danish oil on a small and inconspicuous area of your wood to achieve your desired finish.

Danish Oil on Oak

Danish oil can make your oak wood look more beautiful by bringing out its unique grain patterns and colors.

wooden slabs painted with Rust-Oleum 9341 Ultimate Spar Urethane Oil Based

Since oak wood is a porous hardwood, its wood fibers can easily absorb Danish oil, providing a durable and natural look finish.

Will Darken Oak Wood?

Yes, Danish oil will slightly darken your oak wood, but it will just enhance the warm tones and natural patterns of the wood. Overall, Danish oil will improve the color of your oak wood.

Danish Oil on Walnut

Danish oil makes your walnut wood appear richer and warmer. It deepens and enhances the walnut’s natural color and highlights its beautiful grains and patterns. Danish oil gives a semi-glossy finish and polished look to your walnut wood.

Will Danish Oil Protect Wood from UV Rays?

Yes, Danish oil will protect the wood from UV rays and prevent sun damage. But not all Danish oil brands have UV light protection.

Watco Rust-Oleum A65741 Danish Oil Wood Finish

Therefore, for your exterior application, ensure to choose Danish oil that has anti-UV pigments or UV filters, which can absorb and filter UV light, so it will not pass through the wood surface.

Will Danish Oil Darken Wood?

Yes, Danish oil will slightly darken the wood since it can penetrate the pores and enhance its natural color and grains, making it appear warmer, more vivid, and more natural.

But the depth of the color depends on the type of wood and the number of coats you applied to it. To ensure you achieve the desired color and finish, always test the Danish oil on the hidden area of the wood before applying it on the entire surface.

Is a Topcoat Required?

A topcoat is not required. But it’s recommended applying a topcoat, especially on your exterior applications, to give extra protection to the wood and ensure that the Danish oil will last longer.

painting pergola with Defy Extreme Wood Stain

Where to Use This Finish

Danish oil is ideal for many applications. Generally, you can use it to finish many woodworking projects, including cabinets, furniture, countertops, window frames, desks, kitchen utensils, musical instruments, and children’s toys.

If you’re new to this field, here my recommended woodworking projects for beginners!

Is it Waterproof?

Yes, Danish oil is waterproof. It is highly resistant to moisture and water. It provides a protective layer to prevent moisture and liquid from penetrating the wood, which may cause the wood to rot prematurely.

Teak Oil vs Danish Oil

Teak oil is a specialized oil that is designed for use on teak wood and other hardwoods. It provides maximum protection against harsh elements, making it ideal for outdoor applications.

Meanwhile, Danish oil is a more versatile finish that can be used on various types of wood. It can enhance the beauty of the wood, providing a more natural-looking finish.

Danish Oil vs Linseed Oil

Danish oil is a faster-drying oil that provides a natural finish and protects the wood from moisture, water, and sun damage.

pouring linseed oil

On the other hand, linseed oil is a natural oil that dries slower and cannot provide enough protection against UV rays and other harsh elements compared to Danish oil.

Danish Oil vs Tung Oil

Danish oil is a blend of varnish [1] and oil that dries faster but has a lower shine. While tung oil is a pure, natural oil finish that is more durable but dries slower.

Overall, Danish oil has improved properties due to its composition compared to tung oil. You can even blend tung oil to create Danish oil if you want to make it more durable.

Best Danish Oil Products in the Market

The durability and overall effect of your Danish oil depend on the quality of the mixtures used. So, it’s important to check the product’s ingredients and formula to get the results that you want.

watco danish oil

Below are some Danish oil brands preferred by most woodworkers:

How Long Will Danish Oil Last on Wood?

Danish oil will last on wood for two years before it will need reapplication. If properly maintained, it can significantly extend the lifespan of the wood. Ensure to reapply Danish oil at least once per year to give enough protection to the wood.

How Long Will it Last Outside?

danish oil last long

If the wood is exposed to harsh elements, Danish oil will last for less than one year due to weather variations. So, for exterior application, you should reapply Danish oil after one year to protect it from water, moisture, and sun damage.

See Also: Danish Oil’s Pros and Cons 


In the world of woodworking, opting for a Danish oil finish is a smart move for various project. This finish not only toughens up the wood but also showcases its unique grain, patterns, and color tones, essentially bringing out its natural beauty.

When you get the application right, you’re basically locking in that stunning appeal for your furniture and other wooden creations, making sure they stay eye-catching and intact for years to come. It’s like giving your woodwork a protective shield while letting its inner charm shine through.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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