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Finishing a wood project often takes longer than building it, so it sucks when some of these difficult-to-apply finishes don’t wear well.  In the Toolmonger shop, Danish oil has become one of our favorite methods — it’s easy to apply and looks great afterward — so we decided to try Watco’s latest formulation, a cherry stain, to see if it holds up to what folks have come to expect from the line.  We weren’t surprised by our results.

Danish oil is a great way to stain and finish, not because it’s cheap, but because it actually does penetrate and stain the color expected.  Add to that the fact that it doesn’t often run or leave streaks, and you’ve got yourself a hell of a one-stop staining system.  Even better, you don’t need lab conditions that don’t exist anywhere on the planet to live up to the label.  Danish oil is very simple — shake it up, apply it with the grain, and let it dry.  That’s it.  So we were excited to see cherry stain added to the arsenal.

Our one complaint about this stuff has nothing to do with the product –- it’s the cap.  Something’s got to be done about that cap.  We feel certain you should not have to call upon the power of Grayskull in order to open the damn can the first time.  However, as much hassle as that is, what’s inside is worth it.

After shaking our can up, we dabbed a healthy amount on a clean rag and wiped it on our test piece of veneered red oak.  As usual, it went on like the rest of the Danish oils we’ve tried, smooth and completely even.

The oil penetrated the wood on the first coat, and even when we spilled too much on it and it pooled up, we could just wipe it off and it was fine.  Just one coat got the entire layer of veneer and even a bit of the layer under it, as this cutaway shows.

The color on our red oak came out rich and eye-pleasing, which didn’t surprise us.  Woodcrafters have depended on Danish oil for generations, and it still proves itself easy to work with and beautiful to gawk at — we’re not seeing the downside here.

Watco Danish Oil [Rustoleum]
Street Pricing [Google Products]


11 Responses to Hands-On: Watco Danish Oil – Cherry Finish

  1. Jim German says:

    I’ve found that if you pry/cut/manhandle the plastic off of those caps then you get a nice easy to unscrew normal metal cap instead. (course then its not child proof, but whatever)

  2. Bren R. says:

    I used Watco’s Danish oil on a gun stock and fore end for the first time last week (I’ve used double boiled linseed oil and tung oil extensively before). I have to suggest that you ignore the instructions on it and instead flood the surface, wait a short bit, WIPE OFF EXCESS, wait for it to kind of set (but not be sticky) and reapply. By following the can instructions, I ended up “heat weeping” oil out of it with a halogen lamp for 3 days.

  3. SuperJdynamite says:

    Can you put poly over danish oil?

  4. txinkman says:

    I bet you could if you used a non- wax shellac seal coat (aka Zinsser Seal Coat Shellac). I use it all the time between dissimilar finish coats. Also, thanks Mr German, for your comment, I’ve battled with arthritic hands against childproofing for way too long — it never occured to me before to cut cut the booger off. Duh!

  5. R47 says:

    I used wipe-on poly over Watco Danish oil on my workbench, came out fine.

  6. BC says:

    Poly is compatible with danish oil if you scuff sand the surface first.

  7. Chuck says:

    Just be sure to dispose of the rags as indicated on the can – store them in a sealed metal can under water (meaning water in the can – not the can in a bigger bucket under water). One issue of spontaneous combustion later, and I now take those warnings seriously.

  8. Sean says:

    I used this on red oak, and the colour was very washed out after 2 coats – using the instructions on the can. So, I applied a third coat – big mistake! the oil no longer seeps into wood after 2 coats so if your colour is not even – applying more does not help. I found it ended up in a nice sticky mess which I had to wipe off with rags and then wipe off the stuck on fibers from the rags. Now I’m going to sand the entire piece down, getting rid of any remnants of WATCO and I will be reverting back to my MINWAX stains. I was told that WATCO was extremely easy to use – maybe the ORIGINAL but any coloured WATCO does not apply well (I also tried another coloured WATCO with same results on another piece). It seems that the oil seeps in before the stain therefore the colour stays on top and basically when you return to wipe off the excess oil, you are actually wiping off the colour. I’m extremely dissatisfied with the oil.

  9. don says:

    i used watco medium walnut on solid walnut table top looks really bad my final sand was lots of 225 grit sand paper after application and drying there were faded spots all over the table two coats were applied dont know what to do

    thanks in advance don

  10. Adam says:

    Don: I only ever use clear danish oil with my walnut, and it comes out beautiful. I’m assuming by now you’ve moved on, but I’m curious to know what you did to strip, as it seems near impossible since it is a penetrating oil.
    Whoever asked about the poly: Instructions on the can say it can be applied after you let the danish oil dry.

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