Can You Use Danish Oil on Cherry Wood?

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Although Danish oil serves as a popular finish for various wood types, it’s important to recognize that cherry wood possesses distinct qualities that may necessitate a tailored approach. Additionally, applying an inappropriate finish to cherry wood can lead to issues like discoloration, blotching, and potential damage to the wood’s surface.

As a woodworking pro, I already explored this topic, so let me guide you on using Danish oil on cherry wood to help you make the best course of action.

About Danish Oil And Its Benefits

Danish oil is a type of wood finish that’s made by blending oil and varnish. It’s often used to enhance the natural beauty of wood and provide a durable, protective coating. 

Danish oil penetrates deep into the wood, creating a rich, attractive finish that highlights the wood’s grain and color. Unlike some finishes, Danish oil doesn’t make a hard surface layer on top of the wood. 

wood Danish oil

Instead, it soaks into the wood, providing a protective barrier less prone to cracking or peeling. This makes it an excellent choice for furniture, cabinets, and other wood projects that must withstand wear and tear.

Advantages Of Danish Oil

applying danish oil using cloth

Disadvantages Of Danish Oil

danish oil coating

Is it Recommended to Use Danish Oil as a Finish On Cherry Wood?

Yes, Danish oil is a popular and effective finish for cherry wood. Cherry is a hardwood with natural warmth and beauty, and Danish oil is often used to enhance and protect its natural color and grain.

Danish oil is a blend of oil and varnish, which penetrates the wood to provide a durable finish that is water-resistant and easy to maintain. It can also bring out the natural luster of cherry wood, giving it a rich, warm glow.

When Danish oil is applied to cherry wood, it forms a hard protective layer acting as a barrier between the wood and the outside environment, which prevents moisture from penetrating the wood and protecting it from direct sunlight.

hand planed Cherry wood

Before applying Danish oil, it is vital to properly prepare the cherry wood surface by sanding it to remove any imperfections or blemishes. It is also recommended to apply a pre-stain conditioner to ensure that the Danish oil penetrates evenly and deeply.

If you do decide to use Danish oil on cherry wood, it can be a good choice for a variety of projects, including:

Cherry wood table

Tips and Tricks Before Applying Danish Oil

  1. Ensure the cherry wood is free from dirt or other particles prior to application.
  2. Use a clean cloth to apply the Danish oil, rubbing it along the wood grain.
  3. Allow the oil to seep into the wood for a few minutes before removing any excess.
  4. Continue with the above steps until the desired level of sheen and protection is attained.

Applying Danish Oil On Cherry: 6-Step Guide

Tools & Materials

Step #1: Prep and Clean the Surface

painting tools

Before applying Danish oil to cherry wood, preparing and cleaning the surface properly is crucial. I recommend working in a well-ventilated area to ensure proper air circulation for the efficient and quick drying of the Danish oil. 

To start, the entire surface of the cherry wood should be cleaned using clean rags to get rid of any grease, dirt, dust, or other residues that can easily attach to the Danish oil finish, resulting in an unsightly, blotchy appearance. 

If regular cleaning methods fail to remove stubborn stains, trisodium phosphate can be used. However, if a preconditioner has been applied, it’s essential not to use it as it can harm the topcoat conditioner.

Applying a preconditioner before using Danish oil is suggested to prevent blotchy spots from forming on cherry wood. Once the cherry wood surface has been cleaned, you can proceed to the next step.

Step #2: Sand the Wood Surface

For optimal adhesion, it is essential to sand the surface thoroughly. Utilizing 220-grit sandpaper, gently sand the entire surface following the direction of the wood grain.

person holding sanding block

Sanding will help to even out the surface and remove any inconsistencies, allowing for a smooth finish. It’s important to apply even and light pressure while sanding to avoid scratching the surface and create an equal color throughout the wood. 

Once the sanding is complete, you can remove sawdust by wiping it away or using a dust collection system. Moreover, sawdust can be collected and repurposed as fertilizer once dried. 

While abrasive pads can also be used for sanding, it’s important to ensure no fibers are left behind, as they can catch onto the wood grain and cause further issues.

Step #3: Apply the First Danish Oil coat

You can apply the first coat with a paintbrush or tack cloth. It is recommended to use a bristle brush to ensure all corners, edges, and hard-to-reach spots are covered.

Soak a lint-free tack cloth with a small amount of Danish oil. Then, wipe the cloth along the cherry wood grain direction, covering the entire surface of the wood with even pressure to avoid any blotches.

begin applying Danish oil

Typically, a significant amount of the initial coat of Danish oil will absorb into the cherry wood, saturating the wood fibers. The absorption of Danish oil into cherry wood fibers enhances their flexibility and prevents cracking.

The excess Danish oil on the surface will form a protective coat that hardens when drying, protecting the wood from external elements.

Always apply the Danish oil in a thin coat to avoid forming a splotchy surface. Additionally, using a wood conditioner before Danish oil application can ensure consistent absorption rates and prevent uneven spots on the wood. 

After applying the first coat of Danish oil, leaving it on the surface for approximately 20 minutes is recommended, allowing it to penetrate the wood fibers. Afterward, wipe off any excess Danish oil from the cherry wood surface.

Step #4: Dry it and Sand the Surface Lightly

Once you’ve applied the first coat of Danish, allow it to dry for 1-2 days. 

sanding block

The drying time depends on the temperature and humidity levels in the environment, so it’s important to be patient for the best results. Once the coat is completely dry, lightly sand the surface with 400-grit sandpaper. 

This will increase adhesion between coats and prevent layer separations. Be sure to sand all over the wood with fine-grit sandpaper to avoid damaging the first Danish oil coat. Abrasive pads can also be used instead of sandpaper to scuff the coat and ensure a smooth surface.

Step #5: Apply More Layers of Danish Oil

To add more Danish oil on cherry wood, follow the same steps used for the first coat. Soak lint-free tack cloth in Danish oil and wipe it along the direction of the cherry wood grain to spread the oil evenly. Let it stay for about 20 minutes, and wipe off any excess. 

Allow the coat to dry for 1-2 days, then lightly sand the surface. It’s recommended to apply 3 to 5 Danish oil coats for a nice, even finish. 

durability of danish oil

Applying thin coats is important to avoid blotches and ensure quick absorption into the wood, which forms a protective coat. To prevent streaks and drips, always remove any excess oil. The cherry wood will have a deep red appearance after finishing.

Step #6: Dry and Cure the Coats

Once you apply the last coat of Danish oil, allow it to dry for 1-2 days and cure for approximately 4 to 5 days. 

This process allows the chemicals in the Danish oil to react with the air, forming a protective coat that prevents moisture from penetrating the wood. Keep in mind that curing time may vary based on environmental conditions.

After the five-day elapse, inspect the surface of the cherry wood to confirm it has fully cured. If it has, you can move the furniture to any desired location. However, if it has not cured completely, keeping it in a well-ventilated area is advisable until the curing process is over.

drying Danish oil

When the Danish oil completely cures, it enhances the appearance of cherry wood and gives it a glossy finish. You can apply a thin layer of polyurethane over the cured Danish oil to provide additional protection against water damage and make the finish shinier.

Also Read: Pros and Cons of Danish Oil 

How Many Coats of Danish Oil Should You Apply On Cherry Wood?

The number of coats of Danish oil to apply on cherry wood depends on personal preference and the desired level of finish. Typically, 2-3 coats of Danish oil are recommended for a good finish on cherry wood. 

However, you can apply more coats for a deeper and richer finish. Also, it’s essential to allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next one. Remember that the more coats you apply, the longer it will take for the finish to cure fully.

Best Oil To Use on Cherry Wood

Sunnyside Linseed Oil

Can You Use Danish Oil to Darken Wood?

Yes, Danish oil can be used to darken wood. Danish oil penetrates deep into the wood fibers and enhances the natural wood color, making it darker and richer when applied to the wood surface. 

The number of coats applied and the type of wood will also affect the final color outcome. It is important to note that Danish oil will not completely change the wood color but rather enhance and enrich it. 

If you want to darken the wood significantly, you may need to use a wood stain or dye before applying the Danish oil finish on red oak, cherry, and maple, for example. 

The Lifespan of Danish Oil Last On Wood

The lifespan of Danish oil on wood depends on the quality of the oil, the type of wood, the number of coats applied, and the conditions under which the wood is used. 

Generally, Danish oil can last several years on wood surfaces, especially if applied correctly and maintained properly.

applying danish oil

However, it will gradually wear off over time due to exposure to sunlight, heat, moisture, and other environmental factors. To extend the lifespan of Danish oil on wood, it is recommended to apply multiple coats and reapply the oil periodically as needed.

Is it Okay to Use Danish Oil On Any Type of Wood?

Danish oil proves to be a versatile wood finish suitable for a wide range of wood types, encompassing both hardwoods and softwoods, as well as plywood. 

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that certain wood varieties may necessitate specific preparation or conditioning steps prior to Danish oil application to achieve the desired finish results.

Should You Sand Between Danish Oil Coats?

It is generally not recommended to sand between Danish oil coats because the subsequent coats will not adhere as well to a sanded surface. It can also cause the wood to become over-saturated with oil, resulting in a blotchy finish. 

watco danish oil

Instead, it’s recommended to apply thin coats of Danish oil, allowing each coat to dry fully before applying the next.

How to Avoid Common Mistakes

  1. Use a top coat of varnish or polyurethane for added protection, as Danish oil alone is not a durable finish.
  2. Wipe off excess oil to prevent smears and streaks in the finish.
  3. Sand the wood to create a smooth surface for the oil to adhere to and avoid sags and runs.
  4. Allow the oil to dry completely to achieve desired results.
  5. Apply a thin layer of oil to avoid longer drying time, sags, or runs in the finish.


Danish oil stands out as an exceptional option for finishing cherry wood, primarily because it not only enhances the wood’s innate beauty but also provides a protective barrier against moisture and the elements.

By adhering to the correct application techniques, you can attain a striking and enduring finish on your cherry wood furniture or any other projects. With these valuable tips in mind, you can confidently employ Danish oil on cherry wood and relish in its beauty for years to come.

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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