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 wood oil over Danish oil. So, how to remove Danish oil from wood?

To remove Danish oil from wood, scuff the wood surface with medium-grit sandpaper (or grade 2 steel wool). Or, use a wood finish stripper.

Sanding will wear and remove the Danish oil, while the wood finish stripper (remover) will penetrate and dissolve the coating.

Removing Danish Oil Without Sanding

To remove Danish oil from wood without sanding, use a wood oil remover or a chemical-based paint remover. Common solvents that can dissolve Danish oil are acetone and lacquer thinner. 

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

However, sanding is the best way to remove Danish oil. That’s because sanding will leave the wood surface 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 from the wood is hard. That’s because the Danish oil penetrates the wood deeply. However, here are our top 3 methods:

  1. Sand the Danish oil off of the wood
  2. Use solvents to dissolve the Danish oil
  3. Use a wood finish stripper

1. Sand The Danish Oil Off Of The Wood

Sanding is the best way to remove Danish oil. To sand, you must rub the abrasive side of the sandpaper against the Danish oil for a few minutes. This will gradually wear and fade the Danish oil, 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 wood surfaces)
  • A face mask
  • A pair of gloves
  • Rags
  • Medium and fine-grit sandpaper.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Clean the Finish – Wipe the Danish oil coating 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 Danish oil. 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 the Danish oil 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 Danish oil is removed, move to finer-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface. 
  4. Remove Dust – Once the Danish oil is removed, wipe off the dust and fix any wood holes the surface has. 

2. Use Solvents

Use Solvents

You can use a paint-removing solvent to remove Danish oil. The solvent will penetrate the Danish oil coating and dissolve the paint particles. Once the paint particles are dissolved, the Danish oil loses its bond to wood, 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 face mask
  • A pair of gloves
  • A putty knife, trowel, or paint scrapper.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Clean the Danish Oil – Use a clean rag to remove the dirt from the Danish oil coating. Dirt will make it harder for the solvent to penetrate the wood. 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 Danish oil coating. Do this repeatedly for a few minutes (5-10). 
  4. Wait 30 minutes – Let the solvent sit over the Danish oil for 30 minutes. 
  5. Wipe the Danish oil Off – After 30 minutes, the solvent will dissolve the Danish oil, and you can wipe it off. To wipe Danish oil, use a clean rag. You can also use a paint scraper to scrape the leftover Danish oil. 
  6. Remove the Solvent Residue – After the Danish oil is removed, use clean water to remove the solvent residue. If you don’t remove it, the next finish won’t stick well. 

3. Use Wood Finish Remover

Use Wood Finish Remover

A wood finish remover will remove Danish oil from the wood. However, the wood finish remover must be compatible (recommended) for removing Danish oil.

Here are the tools you need:

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

Here is a detailed guide:

  1. Clean the Wood Oil – The Danish oil coating must be clean and dust-free before applying the wood finish remover.
  2. Demarcate The Wood – Use painter’s or masking tape to demarcate the wood 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 Danish oil coating. 
  4. Wait 30 minutes – After applying the wood finish remover, wait 30 minutes. 
  5. Scrape the Wood Oil – Once the stripping compound is dry, use a scraper to lift and remove the Danish oil. Remove as much Danish oil as you can.
  6. Sand the Wood – To remove 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 removes the Wood finish remover residue from wood. 

Danish oil is Hard To Remove

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

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 the Danish oil because of the glossy moisture-resistant layer. 

Also, the impressive adhesion of Danish oil and the need for multiple coats make removing the finish from the wood difficult.

Repainting Wood After Removing Danish oil

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

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

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

Final Words

Removing Danish oil is hard because the wood oil penetrates the wood surface deeply. However, you can remove Danish oil from wood using a solvent-based paint stripper, wood finish remover, or sanding it.

Sanding is the best way to remove Danish oil 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.

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