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Not one wood project completed in my shop in the last year has been called “done” without a coat or two of Watco Danish oil. We’ve written about its ease of application and wide spread availability, but the real gem here is the way projects look after you’re done.

When we first heard about this wipe-on finish that doesn’t streak and leaves no splotches, we thought folks were giving us a hard time. To our constant surprise we find it’s simple and relatively cheap to stain with and comes out looking like colors you might find at the local furniture store. I have personally done dozens of furniture projects and tried every color available, and I can honestly say that there isn’t a dud among them. Just wipe it on and let it dry. It really is that simple.

Each project winds up looking just like the pictures on the can and, with a little poly and wax over it, is good enough to put next to anything in the house and not radiate that special “I did this myself” vibe.

At $6 per pint retail it’s not the cheapest stain available but not the most expensive, either. However, for that investment you can net a professional look and richness that is very difficult to match using other methods and totally transform a piece of furniture to match any look or style — not bad for less than ten bucks.

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


7 Responses to TM’s 2009 Favorites: Danish Oil

  1. SharkBreath says:

    I can attest to this product as well. Recently I made a full-sized oak dining room table with chairs for our new home. This stuff is truly amazing and cuts your finish time in half if not more. I used the Red Mahogany on the red oak table. The finish has a satin finish, nothing glossy. Application was amazing. No streaks, no puddles, no splotchy stuff in the corners or drips.

  2. Resq47 says:

    I swear by it too after finishing two 8′ oak-ply topped workbenches with it. I’ve seen it broken down on SMC as being ‘easy’ to mix up on your own (oil based stain+varnish?) but it’s still simpler to flood with Watco and recoat a few times, wipe-on poly a day or two later.

  3. PutnamEco says:

    J.E. Moser’s Natural Danish Oil is my favorite. It seems to be to be more water resistant.
    Waterlox also makes a decent wipe on finish.

  4. Lars says:

    Watco’s great — I’ve used straight Danish Oil for a number of projects — but Tried and True linseed oil finishes and oil/varnish finishes (google ’em) are just as easy to apply and maintain, and produce a finish of equal or better quality. So why switch? Tried and True finishes contain no petroleum distillates and so are completely food safe (and environment safe, if that’s your thing.)

    No stain, alas, just a simple, zero VOC finish.

  5. Bren R. says:

    I use Watco Danish Oil Finishes (since it contains a varnish as well, it’s not strictly Danish Oil) for gun stocks. Works beautifully on its own for a range gun or with a few coats of poly over it for a field-hard finish. Easy to work with and beautiful.

  6. I’m not so sure I would top the Danish oil with polyurethane. Poly is going to form a permanent film which cannot be repaired/retouched, and its not that much stronger than a fully cured varnish (as found in the danish oil). I would apply something like Deft brushing/aerosol lacquer if I needed more protection or shine than the Danish oil would deliver.

  7. Bren R. says:

    It’s one of those 6 of one, half a dozen of the other things. The poly coats really do form a nice solid barrier, but you’re right, once you get through that poly, you’re looking at a strip and redo of the stock. Kind of the lacquer/base-clear idea for cars… you can cut and polish lacquer nicely when it has to be done, but a clear will prevent more damage from happening in the first place. For me it depends on where the gun will be used. A field gun gets the Varathane Professional, and a trap gun that just sees range use gets Danish oil and wax. Works for me, anyway, YMMV.

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