How to Remove Danish Oil from Wood? (3 Methods)

Danish oil has a glossy and moisture-resistant finish. Because of that, you can’t apply paint or another coating over it. So, how to remove Danish oil from wood?

To strip Danish oil from wood, scuff the surface with medium-grit sandpaper (or grade 2 steel wool). Or, use a wood finish stripper. Sanding will wear and remove the finish off, while the wood finish stripper (remover) will penetrate and dissolve the coating.

Is Sanding Necessary?

You can strip Danish oil without sanding by using chemical-based or wood oil remover. Common solvents that can dissolve it are acetone and lacquer thinner.

The solvents will penetrate its coating and dissolve the particles. Once the particles are dissolved, the wood oil will liquefy, and you can wipe it off.

However, sanding is the best way to remove it. That’s because it will leave the wood smooth and ready for the next paint or finish. In comparison, if you use a solvent to remove the wood oil, you must clean and sand the wood before re-applying a finish.

How To Remove Danish Oil From Wood?

Removing Danish oil is hard because it penetrates the wood deeply. However, here are our top 3 methods:

1. Sand It Off

To sand, you must rub the abrasive side of the sandpaper against the finish for a few minutes. This will gradually wear and fade it, revealing the bare wood.

For this method, you’ll need the following tools and supplies:

  • 80-grit sandpaper or grade 2 steel wool
  • A sander (for large surfaces)
  • A pair of gloves
  • Rags
  • Medium and fine-grit sandpaper.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Clean the Finish – Wipe the finish with a clean rag to remove dirt and debris from the surface. If the surface is dirty, the dirt will wear off the sandpaper faster.
  2. Choose the Sandpaper – To sand Danish oil off, use 80-grit sandpaper. This coarse sandpaper will remove most of the finish. If there’s leftover wood oil, use lower-grit sandpaper. If you use steel wool, start with grade 2 steel wool and move to a finer grit.
  3. Start Sanding – Sand it for 5 minutes, and then inspect the surface. If there’s still Danish oil on the surface, continue sanding or use lower-grit sandpaper. If the finish is stripped off, move to finer-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface.
  4. Remove Dust – Once the finish is removed, wipe off the dust and fix any holes the surface has.

2. Use Solvents

Use Solvents

The solvent will penetrate the finish and dissolve the paint particles. Once the particles are dissolved, the Danish oil loses its bond to the surface, and you can wipe it off (or scrape it).

Since Danish oil is water-resistant, it will take a while for the solvent to penetrate and dissolve it.

Here are the tools you need:

  • Rags
  • Your choice of solvent. For this guide, we’ll be using lacquer thinner
  • A pair of gloves
  • A putty knife, trowel, or paint scrapper.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Clean the Finish – Use a clean rag to remove the dirt from the coating. Dirt will make it harder for the solvent to penetrate the surface. Also, open all doors and windows for proper ventilation.
  2. Damp a Rag – Pour solvent, such as lacquer thinner or acetone, into a clean bowl. Soak a clean rag into the solvent (inside the bowl), and squeeze the rag to remove the excess solvent. The rag must be damp, not soaking wet.
  3. Apply the Solvent – Use the solvent-soaked rag to wipe down the finish. Do this repeatedly for a few minutes (5-10).
  4. Wait 30 minutes
  5. Wipe the Finish Off – After 30 minutes, the solvent will dissolve the Danish oil, and you can wipe it off. To wipe it off, use a clean rag. You can also use a paint scraper to scrape the leftovers.
  6. Remove the Solvent Residue – After the finish is removed, use clean water to strip the solvent residue. If you don’t, the next finish won’t stick well.

3. Use Wood Finish Remover

Use Wood Finish Remover

A wood finish remover will strip Danish oil. However,  it must be compatible (recommended) for removing wood oils.

Here are the tools you need:

  • Wood finish stripper
  • Paint scraper or putty knife
  • A plastic bag or nylon
  • A pair of gloves
  • Painter’s tape
  • Medium and fine-grit sandpaper
  • Vinegar
  • Rags

Here is a detailed guide:

  1. Clean the Finish – The finish must be clean and dust-free before applying it.
  2. Demarcate The Surface– Use painter’s or masking tape to demarcate the surface areas you don’t want to remove. Also, wear safety goggles.
  3. Apply the Wood Finish Remover – Following the manufacturer’s instructions, apply the wood finish remover over the finish.
  4. Wait 30 minutes
  5. Scrape the Finish – Once the stripping compound is dry, use a scraper to lift and remove the finish. Remove as much as you can.
  6. Sand– To strip stubborn Danish oil, use medium-grit sandpaper and sand the surface.
  7. Neutralize The Wood – Mix vinegar with warm water and apply the mixture over the word. This strips the Wood finish remover residue.

Is it Hard To Remove It?

Danish oil is hard to remove because it has good adhesion to porous surfaces. Once it is applied to a surface, it penetrates the pores deep and sticks to the wood fibers. So, to strip it, the solvent must also penetrate the pores and dissolve it.

Danish oil has a glossy moisture-resistant finish that repels moisture, including a liquid solvent. So, the liquid solvent needs a lot of time to penetrate and dissolve its coating because of the glossy moisture-resistant layer.

Also, the impressive adhesion that it has and the need for multiple coats make removing the finish from the wood difficult.

How Soon Can You Repaint Wood?

If you removed the Danish oil with sandpaper, you can repaint the wood immediately. This is because sanding strips the finish and smoothens the surface after. Since the surface is smooth, you can refinish it with latex or oil-based paint within a few minutes.

However, if you used a solvent, you must let the wood dry for 24 hours before repainting it. That’s because you must remove the solvent residue from the wood before you repaint it, and you must allow the wood to dry.

If you don’t remove the solvent residue, the residue will prevent the new coating from sticking. Also, the solvent residue can discolor the wood.

Final Words

In summary, removing Danish oil is hard because the wood oil penetrates the surface deeply. However, you can strip it using a solvent-based paint stripper, wood finish remover, or sanding it.

Sanding is the best way to remove it because it leaves a smooth surface behind that you can re-paint immediately. However, if you use a solvent-based paint stripper, you must remove the solvent residue after.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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