Title courtesy of MMMC who made me laugh when she said that yes, she would like to see a tutorial about how to oil in Danish! I just wish I knew a little Danish so I could make this post more interesting. Seriously though, I'd like to take you through how I use Danish oil to weave it's magic on the vintage pieces in our home and for the shop, such as the bar stools pictured above and below which I finished on the weekend. You will find Danish oil is an easy and a very forgiving form of polishing timber.
You will need the following:
- Various grades of sandpaper (see below)
- Can of Danish Oil, try Cabots Danish Oil
- Paintbrush, small to medium size
- Steel wool, 000 or 0000 grade
- A couple of clean rags
- Mineral Turps for clean up
You should be able to find all of these items can be found at your local hardware store.
Firstly you will need to sand back the timber piece you are planning on oiling to a smooth finish using various grades of sandpaper. As a rule I start with 120 grade, then 180, 240 and 320 grade sandpaper to finish. It is a lengthy process - it took me days to sand back these two barstools - but if you can stick with it, the result is worth it. You may use 400 grade sandpaper to finish if you like but I find 320 grade is fine as when you oil the wood you will polish it further. Make sure all the fine sawdust is wiped off the timber before you start to oil it.
When using Danish oil, especially when the weather is warm as it is up here in Queensland, I find it best to work on small sections at a time, say one leg of a chair for example.
Brush on the Danish oil generously to your chosen section of timber, then take a wad of fine grade steel wool and rub the oil into the timber as if you were polishing it. You may find the steel wool quite dry in the first coat as the timber sucks up the oil so I sometimes dab a little oil onto the steel wool before polishing into the wood. Polish in the direction of the woodgrain for best results.
Leave for a few minutes for the oil to absorb into the timber, and wipe off excess with a clean cloth before the oil gets tacky. The can says to leave it for 10 minutes, but in our climate I only leave it about 5 minutes max. If you have left it a little too long and it has become tacky, just brush on more oil and repeat the steps.
Repeat for all sections of your timber piece, two to three coats. Use a new wad of steel wool as needed. The beauty of Danish oil is that you don't have to wait until one coat dries, you can do your second coat straight away. The cans says to wait 8 hours between coats, which you can if you like, however I have achieved excellent results without doing so. The result will be a silky smooth, satin oiled finish which looks very natural. Over time the oiled finish will harden more and more to further protect your furniture.
The above picture shows the oiled finish on the left with the original finish (a semi opaque baby poo brown stain) on the right. The Danish oil has transformed the natural look of the timber beautifully.
If you would prefer a glossier finish, in the final coat (or two) brush on the Danish oil carefully and leave to dry without polishing it in with the steel wool, and then just before it gets too tacky, lightly wipe of a small amount of excess oil, making sure the gloss level is consistent throughout. Watch for drips though, you will have to keep an eye on the piece of furniture until it is touch dry to guarantee a beautiful finish. If you are doing the final two coats in this manner, I would recommend waiting the full 8 hours between coats. I used this made-up method when polishing the timber on our Fler armchair as pictured below.
Clean up is with Mineral Turps which I hate using, but you are only using it on the one brush (and your very sticky hands - don't do any Danish oiling if you have pretty polished nails). The steel wool will harden due to the danish oil so the used pieces can be disposed of.
And you're done! I hope you are inspired to start polishing up some neglected furniture pieces for your home. If anyone has any other Danish oiling tips to share, feel free to leave them in a comment below, I'd love to learn more myself.
Images: Olive & Joy