With no defined composition, Danish oil comes from a mix of Linseed oil or Tung oil, synthetic resins, mineral spirits, and varnish.
It means that each product has its composition of each material.
Its name comes from Denmark, where the first Danish oil was first manufactured and exported by a Scandinavian furniture company. It is a hard drying oil that polymerizes being a solid form.
It is widely used as a coat for wood as it gives a firm satin finish. To get the finished look, people need to know how to apply and buff Danish oil for each product.
Since different products might require different techniques and ratios, the oil is mostly used for tool handles, food utensils/kitchenware, and household furniture.
Why you should apply Danish oil
- It accentuates the sheen. Like any drying oil, it darkens the wood color a little bit.
- Yet this oil also adds a silky and glossy sheen to the surface. The sheen is not slippery, making it good to apply on tools/furniture.
- It is water and heat-resistant. The solid resin form above the surface protects the wood grain from heat, water, or any other fluid penetration.
- It helps the wood go through winter or other extreme temperatures for exterior usage.
- It is simple to use and dries in a short amount of time.3 coats with 6 hours of drying time for each layer make a great finish for certain wood types.
- Applying the steps of how to buff Danish oil is also a must for a better finish.
- It is non-toxic and food safe. After getting cured, the oil won’t cause any harm once it is applied, even to food utensils and kid toys.
Preparations to buff Danish oil
Before buffing the wood with Danish oil, people usually need a tack rag, towel, rubber gloves, 320 grit sandpaper, and of course, the Danish oil and the wood.
You must first smooth the wood surface by applying the 320 grit sandpaper. Sand the wood thoroughly and then clean it.
Do not let any coating, wax, or coats still stick up to the surface as it will inhibit the penetrating process of the oil.
Remove any wood debris or sandpaper residue by wiping the tack rag. Next, prepare the Danish oil. Shaking before using it is recommended.
You’ll need an Automotive-style polishing pad in grits 500, 1000, 2000, and 5000. Buffing pad, suitable for mounting on polisher, or variable-speed, random orbit sander. Buffing compound, available at most automotive supply houses.
How to buff Danish oil in simple steps
Once the wood and the Danish oil are ready, dampen your applicators, which could be brushes, rollers, or cloth. For a small and reachable wood, the cloth is preferred.
Afterward, wipe the surface with desired methods, like the ‘wet on wet or the one coat a day method. Each method might require different drying and curing duration.
The number of coats is also essential in the steps of how buff Danish oil. Few coats make a thin layer of the oil, making it difficult to buff.
For the final layer, buff the Danish oil excess using a clean and smooth cloth or pad.
Maintenance for the Danish oil finish surface
Due to frequent touch or friction, the oil can wear off. Re-oiling the wood once or twice a year is enough to make the wood survive for another year.
If the Danish oil is added with another varnish coat, reapplying once in two or three years is also okay.
While re-oiling, you need to do all the steps, including how to buff Danish oil. For monthly care, rub the dull areas using a shammy cloth.
You can also add wood-safe cleaners or oil soap. Some also wipe a mixture of mineral spirit with the oil or varnish using a pad or steel wool.
Applying and buffing Danish oil tips
- Do not apply the oil on the sealed surface as the oil won’t be able to penetrate the grain. Sanding the current layer won’t help.
- Use cloth rather than brushes. Brushes could leave puddles and create bubbles. While applying the cloth, let the cloth surface dry completely first before taking the cloth off and letting the wood cure.
- It might differ for each product, but the average duration for each Danish oil layer to cure is 6 to 8 hours.
- Burnish the surface before every coat with 0000 steel wool or soft cloth. It will enhance the sheen.
- 0000-grade steel wool is good for buffing and repairing marks, nicks, and scratches.
- After applying the wool, add the oil back using the lint-free cloth. For severe damages, use fine grit sandpaper.
- Be careful while sanding the damaging part to avoid the more damaged area.
Danish oil limitations
Despite its benefits, Danish oil also carries some downs. The obvious one is cracks and scratches. The Danish oil layer is so easy to get scratches.
Especially the coats come only from the oil without any other varnish addition.
Compared to other finishes, the top layer of Danish oil is very sticky to dust, so the wood needs to be cleaned and cared for often.
Moreover, the application process, including the steps of how to buff Danish oil is time-consuming. Some Danish products even take up for months to cure the whole fully.
While applying, the oil could only stick up to the bare woods.
It does not work on varnish layers. Furthermore, the absorbed oil might loosen the wood over time.
Porous woods prone to break and darken after years of Danish oil coating are birch, alder, willow, maple, and basswood.
Favorite finish after Danish oil
Applying another varnish as the finish layer is a better option to overcome certain Danish oil’s downs like scratches or dust.
Choose other drying oil for the finish over Danish oil. Tung oil is a good example. Other types include Paint, Resin, Varnish, and polyurethane, which are water- and oil-based.
The key to applying a new layer of different varnish is sanding. Once the Danish oil layer has cured, sand the layer so it can adhere to the new varnish applied.
You must include the sanding in steps of how to buff Danish oil, including the wood preparation step and after the Danish oil layer sets.
Buffing oiled wood and polyurethane
You can’t get the mirror-like finish you want with an oiled or waxed surface.
Use polyurethanes; don’t wait until you need to sand between coats. Instead, apply the next coat as soon as the previous coat is dry.
Put on enough coats of polyurethane so that the polishing and buffing stages have enough finish. If you’re using porous wood, you’ll also need to fill the grain before you start.
Before buffing, the surface must be smooth and flat, with no visible grain.
When buffing, a certain amount of finish comes off. If there isn’t enough, you’ll go through the finish and down to the bare wood, so you’ll have to start over.
- Set your machine to low speed and go over the whole surface as you did when you polished.
- Friction will heat the pad and make it sticky, so you may want to speed up the rotation a little. However, you could burn the finish if you turn it to high speed, so don’t do that.
- Cover the whole surface, except for a large table, without adding more buffing compound. If the surface doesn’t start to shine, you need to smear on more compounds.
- If you think it needs more shine, switch out the buffing pad for a new one, put on your finer polishing compound, and try again.
- When it comes to buffing, more doesn’t always mean better, and you should be careful not to get caught up in the process and buff right through the finish.
- If the finish looks too shiny, you might want to switch back to your first pad and “buff down” the finish to make it less shiny.
- This is unique about buffing because you can play with it until you’re happy with it.
Oiled wood buffing finish with beeswax
Apply a small layer of beeswax to the surface using a clean cloth, let it dry, and then buff it with a new fabric or a buffing pad made for the purpose.
When the days grow into weeks, and then months, and then tiny scratches appear on the surface, a fresh coat of wax can be all that is required to make the surface look as good as new again.
The correct finish on a piece of furniture will enhance its value.
When a deep gloss and mirror-like finish is called for, by following the advice outlined here, you should be able to achieve professional-level results with a minimum amount of effort.