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Danish Oil on Oak Wood: We Tested it



V Susan
Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about woodworking, general DIY and home improvement. If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com


Danish oil on oak wood

Danish oil is a type of finish often used on wood. It’s a mixture of tung oil and varnish that seeps into the wood and gives it a protective layer.

You can find its applications in furniture and other woodworking projects.

Danish oil is an excellent finish to use on oak wood. It is easy to apply with a brush or cloth and dries quickly. The finished oak wood will have a low luster or satin look. Moreover, Danish oil can highlight the grain of oak wood and provide some water resistance.

This article discusses applying Danish oil over oak wood, the process, its pros, and cons, and compares it with some other popular wood finishes used on oak.

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Applying Danish Oil on Oak – Things to know

Danish oil on hand
Danish oil

Danish oil is a great option to make your oak wood project look beautiful.

It will bring out the deep colors and intricate grain patterns in a natural, low-gloss finish. Also, it’s easy to use and dries quickly.

You should apply it in thin, even coats and give it enough time to dry. Danish oil is usually made from natural oils and solvents.

Darkening of wood

If you use Danish oil on oak wood, it can darken the color slightly.

Oak wood before and after finishing with danish oil
Oak wood before and after finishing with danish oil

Danish oil is usually made of natural oils and will penetrate the wood’s surface, bringing out the grain patterns and adding color and depth.

It can bring out the wood’s warm tones, and the amount of darkening depends on the type of oak and the Danish oil used. Lighter oak woods may not change color as much as darker-toned woods.

Applying Over Painted Oak

Danish oil applied over a painted oak wood
Danish oil applied over a painted oak wood

If you try to apply Danish oil to painted oak wood, it may not soak into the surface and sit on top of the paint. This can cause the color to look uneven and have a rough finish.

Also, Danish oil is a poor option for weatherproofing painted surfaces.

It isn’t as strong as other finishes, so it may not provide enough protection from water, UV rays, and other outdoor elements.

Outdoor vs Indoor 

When deciding how to finish your oak furniture, it matters whether it’s for indoor or outdoor use.

If you’re using Danish oil on outdoor furniture, it won’t last as long as finishes specifically made for outdoor use.

Danish oil does not offer the same protection from UV rays and extreme weather. As a result, you would need to upkeep it more regularly.

For indoor furniture, however, Danish oil is an excellent option.

It is long-lasting and water-resistant, also it does not include any harsh chemicals that can harm indoor air quality.

Finish Quality

Applying Danish oil to oak can create a beautiful, low-gloss finish that will last a long time and resist water and other liquids.

But the finish’s success depends on the application’s quality, the Danish oil used, and the type of oak.

For best results, apply premium Danish oil in thin coats, leaving enough time between coats to ensure it is completely dry.

Curing Time 

When applying Danish oil to oak wood, the type of Danish oil, the thickness of the coat, the temperature and humidity, and the type of oak wood can all affect how long it takes for the oil to cure.

Generally, it takes 24 – 48 hours. However, checking the manufacturer’s instructions is essential as curing durations may vary.

You should apply the oil in thin, even coats and allow enough time to dry.

It should feel dry to the touch within a few hours, but it can take days to cure and harden fully.

Pros and Cons of Using Danish Oil on Oak

Advantages of using Danish oil on oak

Danish oil is a blend of special oils penetrating deeply into oak wood. It dries to create a strong, long-lasting, and beautiful satin finish.

It is also water-resistant, which preserves the wood from getting stained and reduces surface marks, making it easier to keep clean.

Also, it’s non-toxic and food-safe when dry. You can use it on most oak-based products.

Danish oil also enhances the natural grain of the oak, adding to its beauty.

Disadvantages of using Danish oil on oak

Danish oil might be more expensive than other finishes.

Also, you might have to put in a lot of effort to get the best finish. As it needs to be treated often to keep its finish, it might require more maintenance than other finishes.

It might not be the best choice for high-traffic areas in your home, like floors, eating spaces, and kitchen countertops, as it cannot offer the same level of protection as polyurethane or varnish.

Also, it might darken the wood, which could be a problem if you want to keep the oak’s natural color.

Oak wood darkened after applying Danish oil
Oakwood darkened after applying Danish oil

Furthermore, it doesn’t offer UV protection, so the wood could deteriorate over time if it is exposed to sunlight.

You should consider Danish oil if you want a hard, long-lasting finish that shows off the oak’s natural beauty.

However, if you need heavy-duty protection, there are better options than Danish oil.

Finishing Oak with Danish Oil – The Process 

Whether you’re a professional or an amateur DIY-er, finishing oak with Danish oil is easy. Here’s how to do it:

Preparing the Oak Surface

Planing an oak wood
Planing an oak wood

Before applying Danish oil to oak, it’s essential to eliminate existing treatments and spray-on polishes.

I suggest using a wood cleaner and sanding pad to clean the wood. A water-based wood cleaner is best as it can be used on any wooden surface without worry.

It will eliminate dirt and stains while keeping the wood looking clean.

Allow the wood to dry before sanding it with a separate sanding pad (but without the wood cleaner).

Sanding an oak wood surface
Sanding an oak wood surface

The sanding job will eliminate existing wood finishes, such as oil, wax, or varnish. You can then move on to applying Danish oil to the oak.

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Applying the Danish Oil

Applying Danish oil over an oak wood
Applying Danish oil over an oak wood

Using a foam brush, apply the first layer of Danish oil to the wood’s surface, going with the grain.

The foam brush will help absorb the liquid, ensuring you can apply the oil evenly and in generous amounts.

Foam brushes come in various sizes to reach all the hard-to-reach places on your wooden item.

Let the oil absorb for two to three minutes, and then use a lint-free cloth to remove the excess.

The lint-free cloth will ensure no unwanted fibers, threads, or lint are left on the surface.

After the first coat, apply two more coats with 4 – 6 hours between each coat.

Once the final layer of Danish oil is dry, buff the surface with a denibbing pad. This will remove any “nibs” or other finishing flaws, leaving you with a super smooth finish.

Maintenance and Care

Dust the treated oak’s surface regularly with a gentle, lint-free cloth. Use a mild detergent solution and a towel if the surface is dirty.

Make sure to dry it with a fresh cloth afterward. You can apply a touch-up layer of Danish Oil to revive the sheen if it looks worn or dull.

Put a thin layer of Danish oil on the entire surface with a clean, lint-free cloth. If you want to add a second coat, wait at least 24 hours for the first one to dry.

To protect the treated oak, avoid direct sunlight and keep it away from sources of heat and humidity.

If it gets wet, dry it quickly to avoid water damage. Do not use abrasive cleaning agents such as steel wool or sandpaper, as they can damage the finish.

Also, avoid excessive heat, which can cause the oil to dry out and split. The color shift may vary depending on the tone of the oak wood.

Best Oil For Oak

Danish, beeswax, and tung oil
Danish, beeswax, and tung oil
Danish OilBeeswaxTung Oil
AppearanceEnhances natural colorSoft satin finishSmooth glossy finish
ApplicationEasy to applyEasy to applyDifficult to apply
Drying Time24-48 hours24-48 hours24-48 hours
A quick comparison of Danish, beeswax, and tung oil on oak

Oak is an incredibly durable wood that comes with many natural oils. You can bring out the attractive grain pattern of oak with the right finishing oil.

Danish oil, beeswax, and tung oil are three popular options when finishing oak.

It’s essential to consider factors like durability, appearance, and application when picking the best oil for your project.

Danish oil and beeswax offer excellent wood protection and enhance the wood’s natural tones.

Tung oil is the most durable choice and emphasizes the wood’s depth and grain.

Beeswax and Danish oil are good choices for beginners as they are simple to apply.

To ensure your oak is polished correctly and protected, you should consider using Danish oil or beeswax.

Tung oil offers excellent protection against water and other elements, danish oil will give your oak a long-lasting finish, and beeswax is easy to use.

All three oils take between 24 – 48 hours to dry.

They all can accentuate your oak’s natural grain pattern. You’ll have to test and decide what works best for your needs.

Final Thoughts

Danish oil is a great finishing option if you’re looking to bring out the warm tones of oak and make it look more vibrant.

It also provides protection, so your woodworking project (such as cabinets or furniture) will last longer. Also, it’s easy to apply and dries quickly.

Before choosing the oil for your project, think about what you need and prefer.

Danish oil will help make your oak project look beautiful and keep it from getting quickly worn down.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use teak oil on oak?

No, it is not recommended to use teak oil on oak. Teak oil is designed specifically for teak wood as it has different properties than other types of wood. Oak is a different wood, so its natural oils differ from those in teak. Therefore, if you want to treat your oak wood, make sure you use a product like danish oil that is compatible with oak.

Does oak wood lose hardness with age?

No, oak wood is naturally hard and does not lose hardness with age. However, over time it can become brittle from exposure to sunlight, moisture, and other environmental factors. To help make the wood last longer, you should polish and protect it adequately.

How long will oak last untreated?

You can expect untreated oak wood to last between 10 – 15 years, depending on its environment. To ensure oak wood lasts longer, it’s essential to finish and protect it.

V Susan
Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about woodworking, general DIY and home improvement. If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com