What is Danish Oil Finish? (Uses, Advantages & Disadvantages)

Applying Danish oil on wood plank.

One of the most commonly used wood finishes is Danish oil. It combines tung oil, linseed oil, and mineral spirits to produce an excellent finish. Many manufacturers roll out various Danish oils, and since there is no well-defined formulation for producing Danish oil, the different Danish oil products you will find in the market vary in composition.

Finishing the wood is a sure-shot way to protect it from damage because wood is susceptible to damage due to moisture, scratches, UV lights, and temperature changes. Yet, when finishing, it will be best to choose the best finish for your wood. 

Common Ingredients and Composition of Danish Oil

Danish oil is a finishing oil that is hard drying. It can polymerize into a very solid form as it reacts with oxygen atoms in the atmosphere. Once applied to the wood surface, it can provide a water-resistant finish. It can also work as a wood primer before applying varnish or paint. 

Since the formulation of Danish oil doesn’t follow a definite formula, its precise composition is not easy to explain and not patented. Besides, you will not get a definite mixing ratio among its ingredients that you can follow if you want to make your own Danish oil. Below are the typical ingredients of Danish:

  1. Finishing oil can either be boiled linseed oil or tung oil
  2. Varnish can be polyurethane or exterior varnish
  3. Thinner can either be Turpentine or mineral spirits.

You will notice that there is no well-defined ratio for the different ingredients of Danish oil. As mentioned above, you can select different finishing oil, varnish or thinner, and mix them to produce a Danish oil. Besides, you will notice that various manufacturers follow varied mixing ratios. Thus, you can buy different Danish oil products with varying mixing ratios.

Since Danish oil’s different ingredients are excellent, a well-mixed Danish oil can provide your wood with an exceptional finish. It can bring out the best qualities of each component in the Danish oil mixture you will create. 

This finishing oil, for example, can create a natural look for the wood. On the other hand, the varnish can provide sufficient protection for your furniture from harmful chemicals, UV rays, and moisture. The thinner, however, lets the formulation penetrates the wood deeply and allows for ease of application of the Danish oil finish.

Different Applications and Uses of Danish Oil Finish

After application to the wood surface, the Danish oil creates a hard satin finish after curing. This finish makes the wood surface water-resistant. Since it doesn’t provide a glossy finish to the wood, it is perfect for items and artifacts like tool handles and utensils. It also provides the wood with a dark finish. Besides, if your project requires wood staining, you can choose a Danish oil with specially dyed grades.

As a versatile and popular choice for finishing wood, Danish oil can also be used for finishing wood tool handles, kitchen worktops, butcher benches, and cutting boards. You can also use it to finish food utensils and household furniture. 

It cures hard and provides excellent protection for your wood projects. It also offers better looks for your wood projects. 

Advantages of Using Danish Oil

Danish oil as a wood finish has many advantages you would appreciate. However, if you want to use it in your woodworking projects, it will be best to know first the following benefits of its use:

Resistance to Harmful Chemicals

If you coat your wood with Danish oil, you can expect the wood to be resistant to damaging chemicals. You can use it for both indoor and outdoor furniture. You can likewise utilize it for finishing toys and other wooden items to protect the wood from accidental spills of chemicals. For this reason, it is considered a primary wood finish option for furniture. 

It Improves the Level of Resistance of Wood Against Scratches 

When Danish oil dries, it forms an elastic coat over the wood surface, allowing the wood to withstand expansion and contraction due to the vicissitudes of the weather. Thus, the wood surface becomes protected throughout the changing seasons. Besides, this elastic coat protects the wood from incurring minor scratches and damage. When this oil gets completely polymerized, it provides a protective film over the wood surface. 

It Doesn’t Discolor Over Time

One concern most woodworkers have when finishing wood is the possible discoloration of the wood surface over time. Thus, many woodworkers want to use a clear coating to let the natural beauty of the wood come out. However, using some finishing products might lead to the yellowing or tinting of timber. 

So, if you got clients who don’t want this yellowing of furniture over time, they would undoubtedly be dissatisfied if they noticed your project discolored over time. If you want to avoid this yellowing or the amber-tinting of wood, it will be best to use Danish oil. It can keep the natural tone of the wood and prevent discoloration over time.

It Dries Fast

The Danish oil usually dries within six hours or less. This drying time is relatively faster than the drying time of other finishing products. Many finishing products would require a day to dry completely. Besides, some of them, like the tung oil, can take up to two days or more to dry entirely. 

However, the drying process of Danish oil may take longer or less, depending on the weather’s humidity level. Remember that sub-optimal weather conditions can prolong the drying process of Danish oil. Nevertheless, it will surely take you only a day to completely dry Danish oil. 

It Can Raise the Level of Resistance of the Wood Against Water And Moisture

The Danish oil consists of minute particles that react to the atmosphere’s oxygen, leading to its polymerization. When completely polymerized, these minute particles provide a thin film of coat that is water resistant. This thin film provides an impervious coating over the wood surface, making the surface impenetrable to water.

Thus, Danish oil on your wood project can create a watertight seal over the wood surface, making the wood’s pores impenetrable to moisture. For this reason, it is a perfect finish for protecting your wood projects.

It is Safe for Utensils Used for Serving Food

Danish oil is food grade and safe for utensils used for serving food. It is one of the few finishes ideal for wooden utensils used for handling food. Thus, you can use it to finish chopping boards, banisters, salad bowls, kitchen cupboards, and wooden kitchenware.    

You can also use it for treating butcher blocks. Thus, you can feel safe and not worry about toxin ingredients that could mix with your food if you use Danish oil. 

Disadvantages of Using Danish Oil

Knowledge of Danish oil will never be complete if you only know the advantages of its use. You also need to know the following disadvantages of the use of Danish oil to know exactly if it is the best finish for your woodworking projects:

Requires Regular Maintenance

After applying Danish oil, you can expect it to protect your wood over time. Nevertheless, it will be best to provide it with consistent and careful maintenance, which can be time-consuming. Danish oil finish requires regular cleaning to maintain the excellent appearance of the wood. The reason is Danish oil’s polymeric structure attracts dust particles. Dust, of course, can’t penetrate the polymerized wood surface. 

But these dust particles will stick onto the wood surface, making it look less attractive. Thus, you need to clean the wood surface more often and regularly. 

You can use shammy cloth and polish to clean the wood surface occasionally. Using the cloth, wipe the areas that look dull and dusty. You can also repair the scratches and cracks by reapplying coats of Danish oil. It will be best to apply two to three coats of Danish oil annually.

Not Very Durable

Danish oil might suit wood well, but you can only expect this finish to be somewhat durable. You can find many other wood finishes in the market that offer better durability than Danish oil. Due to its low durability, its resistance to cracks and scratches becomes less. Over time, you might see scratches and other defects in the wood’s appearance. Thus, you will need to reapply Danish oil again. 

Therefore, it is right to say that varnish and paints offer better protection to wood than this oil. Tung oil, likewise, provides better protection to wood than Danish oil. Besides, you need to clean the wood surface more often because Danish oil attracts dust particles.

As mentioned above, there is no specific formulation for making Danish oil. The durability issue might depend on the ingredients used for making Danish oil. Some manufacturers produce more durable formulations of Danish oil. So, the durability issue might boil down to the blending ratio used by manufacturers. 

Applicable Only to Bare Woods

Danish oil is only suitable for bare wood or wood that is not yet treated. Wood absorbs Danish oil quickly, allowing the oil to penetrate deeply into the wood’s porous structure. Such property of the Danish oil can be problematic because once it gets inside the wood fibers, it decreases its strength, making it susceptible to cracking and scratches. 

Besides, the tone of the wood might change upon the application of Danish oil. So, scrutinize the wood after applying Danish oil to its surface to check for any alteration or damage.

Take Time to Apply

When applying Danish oil, you will need enough patience to complete the application. It can take up to three days for the Danish oil to dry thoroughly before applying another coat. However, the drying time of Danish oil depends on the formulation of the Danish oil.

You will also need to sand after each coat using 600-grit sandpaper. Besides, you need to apply two to three coats of Danish oil for optimum results. Thus, you will need more time to complete the application and curing process. 

Doesn’t Produce a Smooth Surface

Danish oil doesn’t produce smooth wood grain. So, it will help if you wet sand the wood after every coating to smooth the surface. You can also remove brush marks after every sanding. You need to be properly guided on how to apply Danish oil because Danish oil can either amplify or ruin the appearance of your wood. 

Thus, it will be best to familiarize yourself with Danish oil’s pros and cons. This way, you can decide well whether Danish oil is the best finish for your woodworking projects.

Volatile Substance

Danish oil reacts to oxygen in the atmosphere and hardens as it reacts. This property of Danish oil can be very advantageous. On the downside, however, this property can make this substance highly volatile. It can be flammable. Thus, it will help if you carefully work with this oil. Don’t work near the fireplace when using Danish oil. 

After applying Danish oil, ensure that you dispose of the rag you’ve used properly. Ensure likewise that the rag has dried before disposing of it. If you want to make sure that it will not catch fire, soak the rag in water for several minutes.

How To Make Danish Oil

You can purchase a ready-to-use Danish oil or make a DIY Danish oil by mixing varnish, thinner, and finishing oil equally. Depending on the consistency you want, you can get the right mixture if you make your Danish oil. It is easy to prepare a Danish oil concoction. You only need to choose a finishing oil, thinner, and varnish. Then, pour equal parts of these three ingredients into a glass jar. Stir the concoction well. 

If you use the Danish oil regularly, you can pour in 1/3 finishing oil, 1/3 varnish, and 1/3 thinner. Stir the mixture slowly, and don’t let air bubbles get trapped inside the mixture. These trapped air bubbles can make the concoction tacky and blotchy. 

You can also apply more Danish oil to the wood if the furniture would be used outdoors. You can add more varnish to make the finish more durable and tough. 

However, if it is your first time using Danish oil, it will be best to purchase it from the nearest local store instead of making your Danish oil. This way, you can ensure that the Danish oil you will use is well-mixed and formulated.  


As one of the oil-based finishes, Danish oil is easy to use. It is a wipe-on oil finish that offers many advantages. If you intend to use it for your woodworking projects, you must choose the correct and most recommended brand of Danish oil. Danish oil is suited for use on most wood types. You can use it for many projects, like finishing panels, cabinets, wood tool handles, worktops, and household furniture. 

Danish oil is considered the best type of finish for pine. It is relatively durable and hard-wearing. Besides, it works well with pinewood’s tight grains. To get optimum results, you can apply three coats to pinewood. It can protect this wood from cracking, discoloration, and scratching. Furthermore, it can provide a sterling finish for oak, providing oak with excellent protection against damage due to water. It also enables you to prevent the staining of oak. 

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