Beth Rugan Shepard

HELP! Danish Oil Disaster

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Please help me, all you wood experts! I am in way over my head here.

 

I am going to tell the very long and drawn out story because I am such a newbie, I am afraid I will leave out something important for y'all to understand the issues I am having.  

 

I bought a mid century (not sure what kind of wood) china hutch that was stained a terrible faded color.  So I stripped it using Cirtristrip.  The varnish and stain came off super easily.  After scrapping the stain and varnish and cleaning the entire thing with mineral spirits to remove the stripper residue, we let it dry for 24 hours.  We were down to raw wood.  

 

The next day, I decided to danish oil it using Watco Danish oil in Dark Walnut.  This was a mess.  The wood was just drinking in the oil.  I could not get it to stay on the surface of the wood no matter how many coats I applied--it just sank right in.  After using two containers of oil--I finally called it a night.  I wiped off the piece and let it dry overnight.  It was a horrible splotchy gray color.

 

The next afternoon I applied another coat of danish oil.  This time the oil remained on the surface of the wood--so I thought things were going well.  I let it dry for 30 minutes until tacky then wiped off the remaining oil.  Gross.  The wood is still a gross splotchy dull gray color.  Not the color or look I was going for.

 

What do I do now to get the piece looking like I would like?  Can I apply an oil-based stain over the danish oil once it has dried really well and put an oil-based poly over that?  Do I sand the entire thing and start over (something I would like to avoid)?  

 

I am totally lost here.  

 

Thanks so much for your help--

 

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I would let it dry for a few days. Wipe off any excess oil that surfaces. Pictures would help. Too much oil finish too quick is a invitation to disaster. Thin coats and thorough drying between is the way to go.

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I have used the Watco Danish before w/ great success..however, I've only used the clear and on new wood. I suspect your color problem being the type of wood and the way it is accepting the oil. This question better left for those more knowledgeable than myself. Good luck to ya and welcome to the forum.  

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I would let it dry for a few days. Wipe off any excess oil that surfaces. Pictures would help. Too much oil finish too quick is a invitation to disaster. Thin coats and thorough drying between is the way to go.

 

Ok.  I put so much on because I could never get the wood to stop soaking it in.

 

Now that I have this problem. What can I do now?  oil-based stain?  Right now it is just not working.  I pull post pics when I get home.  

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Yikes. This is no fun. Welcome to the world of wood finishing, by the way. :)

 

To understand what your options are now, we should probably look at why this happened in the first place. Understanding the materials you're working with will provide some insight. First, you started with a pre-finished piece. Whenever refinishing, the surface left after stripping can still contain impurities and surface "oddities." So staining previously-finished pieces can be somewhat unpredictable. Add to that the fact that we don't know what wood you're working with, and some stain better than others. My guess is you have one that doesn't stain well, even when starting with raw wood. 

 

Now the material you used, Danish Oil, is a blend of oil and varnish. But it's very heavy on the oil. So the material is best applied in thin coats since the oil needs to absorb, dry, and cure. This process takes about 24 hours in most cases. If you apply the Danish Oil heavily, it can actually take much longer to cure and will be much more prone to blotching, especially in a softer and more thirsty wood species. 

 

You mentioned that the wood kept drinking up the oil, which can certainly happen, but applying more oil to the wood isn't always the right answer. And in this case, it really makes your life difficult as the oil is probably penetrating fairly deep into the wood surface and as mentioned before, a thick layer of oil isn't going to cure properly. So one fundamental problem here likely lies in your expectations for Danish oil. While you can certainly build up a bit of a light film after applying a few coats of the stuff, Danish Oil is really intended as one of those close to the wood finishes. If you want an even and consistent sheen (as you'll get with a film), what you probably should have used was a wiping poly. 

 

So now we have a surface filled with uncured Danish Oil that isn't likely to cure in the near future. Sadly, that surface will likely remain tacky for quite some time. Exactly how long is dependant on a number of factors. But we also have a color we don't like and blotching to boot. If this were a project in my shop, I would prepare for another stripping session. Keep in mind that the oil is deep in the grain so this could be even more work the second time around. 

 

Once you are back to bare wood, test some stain products in an inconspicuous area. Also start looking into blotch control techniques. Here's one using shellac: http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/videos/coloring-blotchy-woods/  And here's one focused on water-based dyes and Charles Neil's blotch control product: http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/articles/blotch-control-to-rule-them-all/

 

Once you get the wood the color you want, try using something as simple as Minwax wiping poly. Wipe on a light coat and let it dry overnight. The wood will likely have some areas where it soaked the finish up more than others. Don't worry. After you apply 2-3 light coats you'll start to see the surface even out as the wood is sealed. Sand lightly between coats and build up the finish as much or as little as you like. 

 

Keep in mind this is just one perspective and there are a few ways you could tackle this issue. I'm leaving some of those other options out for the sake of simplicity. But hopefully some of our fellow forum members will chime in with different suggestions.

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A couple follow ups to marc's thoughts.  Since the finish is not fully cured, you might be able to get most of it off with mineral spirits rather a stripper .  It will still be a messy and time consuming job, just less smelly and timing consuming.

 

Maybe you did not stir the Danish oil well enough.  Like marc said it is a mix of oil and varnish and, assuming the two might separate, all of the varnish and associated dryers might be on the bottom of the bottle.

 

after you get itnice and clean a seal coat of dewaxed shellac might be a good idea. 

 

refinishing sucks. 

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thewoodwhisper and Mike Woodsap--thanks a ton for your suggestions. The hutch really does not feel tacky to the touch at all.  Does that indicate that it has cured?

 

 I kinda had a feeling it would be back to stripping for me....yuck!

 

Should I sand it down or use a stripper again?  

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If it doesn't feel tacky and you aren't willing to give up and strip it then wait a few days and put a THIN coat on a small area that is not real obvious. Wipe it on, let it sit for just a minute or so and wipe it off. If it dries overnight then proceed carefully.

If you want to give up on the Danish oil try an oil based stain, carefully with thin coats, wipe on wipe off. When you get the color you like you can use varnish but make sure the stain is completely dry and not sticky.

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It's hard to picture a dark walnut finish coming out as a dull gray.  If you have time to attach a picture it may help some of us inexperienced finishers understand whats going on and to know what to watch out for.

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I have a feeling the wood is pine or some other "soft" wood.  If you go the route of refinishing you're likely going to have to put on some sort of barrier coat and then apply your color and finish over that to get any kind of consistency.  

 

You've got some great advice from others who are much more adept at finishing than I am.  I'd consider their advice and make a decision that considers both how much more work you are willing to do and what outcome your are expecting.

 

Best of luck!

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Without some decent pictures we are all just guessing and drawing on experience . I have learned that digital photography is cheap so I take before during and after pictures of most of my projects. Sometimes it helps to be able to go back and look.

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If the surface isn't tacky, that's a very good sign. That definitely means the finish is curing. Now the question is, can you get the color you want by simply layering color on top. Now that you've applied the danish oil, I'd skip the oil-based stain. It will have trouble absorbing into that surface at this point and could lead to more problems. Instead, look into a gel stain. Should be compatible with the surface and will layer color on top of what you already have. After the gel stain, give it a coat or two of wipe-on poly to lock the color layer in and you should be good.

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Yes, a picture would help..... you know it speaks a 1000 words....

 

Be careful with sanding, lots of midcentury furniture is veneered plywood, and the face veneer is really thin.  Even if you sand all the finish off, you might sand down to the glue layer that holds the face veneer on, which will interfere with any stain. 

 

I had a hutch I though was all mahogany, after stripping and sanding I found out only the drawer and door fronts were veneered mahogany, the rest was all heavily colored and glazed pine.   Had I known that when I started I would have just cleaned up the finish a bit and let it be.  That is when I decided building furniture is a whole lot more fun than refinishing :)

 

I still wonder if the Danish oil was not stirred enough.  It is a mix of pigment, oil and varnish and it sounds like you got mostly oil on your furniture.

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would a dye help better/worse than the gel stain?  just curious

In this case, worse. The dye would just sit on the surface and never absorb. At this point, the wood is at least partially sealed. So unless the dye is added to a finish like lacquer or shellac, allowing it to cure on top of the surface, it probably isn't a good option.

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Sorry for the delay guys.  I took some pics but work has been crazy.  They are attached.  Hope this helps. 

 

Mike Woodsap--I really did stir the *beep* out that can! 

 

Now after a couple of days, the wood is feeling a little tacky...I'm guessing that is the oil seeping out.  I keep wiping it down to remove the excess.  Looks like its stripping for me.

 

photo22.jpgphoto33.jpgphoto13.jpgphoto43.jpg

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Doesn't look that bad to me. Wipe a small section with some mineral spirits, that will show the current color if you started varnishing it.

You could let it dry for several days and test some gel stain on the back of a door or someplace inconspicuous .

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I mostly agree with wdwrker.  It doesn't look that bad and I don't even find the color that objectionable.  The only thing I would suggest any different is to continue wiping off the excess and make sure the current finish is thoroughly done stablizing before I did anything else to it.  From the sounds of how much oil you originally added, that might be both longer than you'd like or expect.

 

I'm going to back away from my previous suggestion that this might be pine.  It looks much nicer than that.  On the other hand I'm pretty bad at recognizing species from photographs.

 

Keep at it and keep heart.  Some valuable lessons learned but I don't think it's totally sunk.

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+1 for Marc's gel stain suggestion.  It is my go-to on refinishing since it doesn't care whats underneath much, and I can tell you it is compatible with Danish oil from times I've used it as a glaze.  Practice with it on the inside of a door, though, the directions on the cans lead to disaster for me.  I prefer to wipe it on with one rag and wipe off with a clean rag immediately.  Repeat after it dries until you have the color you want.  Then top with a wipe on poly, such as Arm R Seal. 

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On 8/13/2014 at 9:06 AM, Beth Rugan Shepard said:

Please help me, all you wood experts! I am in way over my head here.

 

I am going to tell the very long and drawn out story because I am such a newbie, I am afraid I will leave out something important for y'all to understand the issues I am having.  

 

I bought a mid century (not sure what kind of wood) china hutch that was stained a terrible faded color.  So I stripped it using Cirtristrip.  The varnish and stain came off super easily.  After scrapping the stain and varnish and cleaning the entire thing with mineral spirits to remove the stripper residue, we let it dry for 24 hours.  We were down to raw wood.  

 

The next day, I decided to danish oil it using Watco Danish oil in Dark Walnut.  This was a mess.  The wood was just drinking in the oil.  I could not get it to stay on the surface of the wood no matter how many coats I applied--it just sank right in.  After using two containers of oil--I finally called it a night.  I wiped off the piece and let it dry overnight.  It was a horrible splotchy gray color.

 

The next afternoon I applied another coat of danish oil.  This time the oil remained on the surface of the wood--so I thought things were going well.  I let it dry for 30 minutes until tacky then wiped off the remaining oil.  Gross.  The wood is still a gross splotchy dull gray color.  Not the color or look I was going for.

 

What do I do now to get the piece looking like I would like?  Can I apply an oil-based stain over the danish oil once it has dried really well and put an oil-based poly over that?  Do I sand the entire thing and start over (something I would like to avoid)?  

 

I am totally lost here.  

 

Thanks so much for your help--

 

 

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My dear Beth,

I have been learning and practicing woodworking for about a year and a half now. That means, I'm a BEGINNER too.

Although I learned 2 very important lessons during this period of time:

The first is easier said than done and it PAY ATTENTION TO THE LITTLE DETAILS  

The second which will solve your issue is READING THE MANUFACTURER INSTRUCTION to know what that product is intended to be used for and how to use it. 

 

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A third thing to learn is look at the dates on a post ! This thread is almost 3 years old .

But welcome to the forum . Finishing always brings out many different opinions !

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47 minutes ago, Eric. said:

It's weird to hear someone addressed as "My dear something" on a woodworking forum.

Kinda condesending sounding.

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