Tried and True Danish Oil is a favorite finish of mine. I like this finish in particular because it is safe for contact with food. This is a polymerized oil, which means it has been treated to get the molecules to cross link. This initial cross linking allows the finish to dry faster, and form a stronger coating.
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The Tried and True brand makes a couple other food safe finishes as well. I only have first hand experience with their Danish Oil (pictured) so I will explain the finishing process for this product only. The nice thing about polymerized oils is that they can be applied with a cloth, and leave a nice warm glow to the wood.
The finishing process always begins with the initial preparation. Before applying the finish, first sand the entire surface to 220 grit. Sand with the grain to minimize the appearance of any scratches. If you want to sand it finer you can, but there is no need.
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Next, fold over a small piece of clean cotton cloth to make a bundle that is 4-6 layers thick. This is used to apply the finish. Dab the middle of the bundle in the finish and wipe it over the surface to be finished. You only need a touch of finish; do not dunk the bundle up to your wrist.
I use gun cleaning patches or pieces cut from an old undershirt. Don’t use any sections from a shirt that have staining.
Wipe the finish on the surface with the cloth, and apply it very thinly. Check the piece in a light looking for thick spots. If you see them, use the cloth to smooth them out. Once you have an even sheen across the surface, you are done.
Don’t be afraid to touch the piece while the finish is still wet. The layer will be so thin that you won’t smear the surface. This is one of the nice things about working with an oil. Most oils can be lightly touched while applying. A primarily film creating finish does not work as well with fingerprints. Oils are more forgiving, and as long as you are applying incredibly thin coats, you will not see any printing.
The nice thing about Tried and True Danish Oil is that you can apply finish to the entire piece and set it down on a clean surface. The coat will dry just the same, and as long as you applied it very thinly, almost to the point of wiping it all off, it won’t stick. I leave smaller objects on a blue shop towel to dry, and they don’t even stick when I pick them up the next morning.
Tried and True Danish Oil needs to be applied in very thin coats. Thick coats take forever to dry, and they do not look even on the surface.
The Curly Maple on the piece in the picture above really popped with the oil. This figure goes all the way along the side, but is barely visible without the finish. Tried and True Danish Oil sinks into the wood and brings out the look of the figure nicely. Oils in general do this very well.
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For more on finishing, my 10 Step Guide to Wood Finishing takes a lot of the guess work out of finishing for the beginner. This is for hand applied finishes like Tried and True Danish Oil and several others.
What is your favorite hand applied finish? Share a comment and we can all find something new to try.
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