Danish Oil For Adding Age to Wood

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Danish Oil, in particular Medium Walnut Danish Oil, is a very easy way to add age to a piece of wood. Rustic and aged pieces are very popular, and having a go-to product to add that rustic look to a piece of new wood makes it very easy.

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How to Age Wood With Danish Oil

danish oil

I have used Danish Oil for a long time, and it is a pleasure to work with. You can find Danish Oil in a number of places, and it is carried in most hardware stores.

Even some stores that have hardware or painting sections carry it.

The product comes in several shades, including natural. The difference between them is the color of stain that is added to the mixture. Medium Walnut is the shade that I use in this example. I also have a Dark Walnut that has a much more amplified coloring effect.

Using Danish Oil to Age a Piece of Pine

danish oilIn this example, I am using Pine. Lighter colored woods take up the stain better, and transform more after coloring. The board in this example actually ends up becoming a Growth Chart Ruler, which I have instructions for in another article.

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The first step is to prepare the surface for finishing. Sand the wood smooth, and remove any large defects. After the initial surface leveling, switch to 220 grit and sand the entire piece smooth.

Scuff the edges to break any sharp corners, and then wipe off all the sanding dust. An air nozzle works great for removing the dust, but a rag will do the same thing. If you have any large voids to fill, do that as well, which I have instructions for here.

Applying the Oil by Hand

danish oilBegin by using a clean cloth or a paper towel, and fold it up into a small bundle. Place it tightly over the lid of the can (which you have already swirled around to mix) and tip the can over to coat the pad.

Work in small sections, and begin applying the Danish Oil to the wood. The secret to getting a nice looking and streak free finish is to wipe the oil to the point where it feels like you are wiping the section dry.

The thinner you apply the oil, the better the finish will look. The beauty of Medium Walnut Danish Oil is that is faintly darkens the wood. This slight change is what naturally aged pieces look like. The more natural the look, the more believable your finish.

Finishing the Whole Piece

danish oilContinue working around the entire surface in the same way. As you run out of Danish Oil, lay the bundle over the mouth of the can, transfer more finish, and rub it on the board.

You don’t need to work incredibly quick, but keep going until the entire surface has an even coating of oil.

Pay attention to the wood as you finish. Some areas are going to take up more finish than others, and that’s ok. Pine in particular has harder and softer parts to the wood. The softer areas will take in more stain than the harder areas. This will only enhance the rustic look, and make the piece appear more natural.

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Before and After Aging Your Project

danish oilHere is a before and after look at the board, which clearly shows the change. On the left, the board is pale and lacks color. On the right, the wood looks more like the bench below.

The bench I use was first owned by my grandfather, then my father, and finally owned by me. It’s close to 100 years old. Notice how closely the board with the Danish Oil matches the bench.

This is the secret to adding age to wood quickly and easily. If you were to make a bench and then use Danish Oil on the surface, you could make a new workbench look aged as well. New benches are nice to have, but a trusty old bench has a much warmer look.

Drying and Curing the Danish Oil

After you have applied the Danish Oil, you need to allow it to dry. The normal time is typically six to eight hours, but I recommend giving the finish at least overnight. The longer you let a piece dry, the better the finish will perform over time.

Linseed oil and Tung oil have long drying times too, so if you already use these products you are familiar with the wait involved.

After the first coat dries, you can add more coats if you like. The coloring will darken a little more with each coat, but only by a very small fraction. If you are looking for a much darker color, then I recommend using the Dark Walnut instead of the Medium Walnut.

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Tips and Tricks for Using Danish Oil to Age Wood

Here are some tips for getting the most from your Danish application, and how you can use it the best way to add age and charm to your pieces:

  • This is a much easier and faster process than using white vinegar, a piece of steel wool and mason jars to create your own iron vinegar mixture. It’s less darkening too. However, if that’s what you want, take a look at Steel Wool and Vinegar Stain.
  • Watco Danish Oil Finish is easy to apply, which is why this is a good method for beginners.
  • You can use 0000 steel wool for distressing wood that has been coated with oil, and you can dial back some of the rustic look in certain areas to make the piece look more natural.
  • Leave the oil on the surace for up to 15 minutes before wiping back and you will have a darker look.
  • Danish is different than an oil and varnish blend, in that the finish will not set up on the wood surface and form a layer.

That wraps it up for using Danish Oil to age wood. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.

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brian forbes westfarthing woodworks llc owner

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