Watco Danish Oil Black Walnut on Red Oak - I want it darker!!

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by VanCranberry posted 02-18-2017 09:35 PM 8534 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View VanCranberry's profile


5 posts in 879 days

02-18-2017 09:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: danish oil watco black walnut stain red oak finish

Bob Flexner’s “Understanding Wood Finishing,” page 260 and 266 describes and has photo of a gorgeous finish for red oak which according to his description is basically just Deft or Watco Danish Oil Black Walnut on Red Oak, 2-3 coats wet sanded on the later coats. It looks like Deft is no longer available so I am using Watco. The pic in the Flexner book shows a rich medium golden-brown tone in the late wood, and with the very dark early wood – the whole thing is a nice dark brown but maintains some contrast in the grains.

Problem is, I followed the book to a T on a piece of scrap, and the latewood just won’t pick up enough brown – it just stays a sort of pale tan. 3rd coat basically does nothing to add color compared to 2nd coat. Its not terrible and I love the flat finish and easy application of the Danish Oil. I experimented with Transtint medium brown like five different ways (water-based dye coat, shellac toner at various stages) and it gives some better color but can’t match the look from the flexner book. I MUST MATCH THE FLEXNER BOOK – BBAHHHHH losing my mind with the stain and my woman making fun of my excessive staining!! I had a dream about my stain scraps, no joke!

Any tricks to getting that late-wood to pick up more dark stain? I think i sanded to 220, and maybe i saw somewhere that if you stop at 150, the larger grit picks up more of the asphaltum, so I’m going to try that. Any other ideas??

13 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


5452 posts in 2767 days

#1 posted 02-18-2017 10:32 PM

Red oak has highly variable characteristics between individual boards. Heck it is not even a species but rather a family of species. Trying to duplicate something like that from a photograph is going to lead to frustration. How does it look after you apply it but don’t wet sand it? Deft was a brand of Poly as I recall. I would use the Watco as a stain then apply a poly topcoat and wet sand that between coats. Sounds like you are just sanding the stain off of the late wood. I never sand oak to anything finer than 180.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View VanCranberry's profile


5 posts in 879 days

#2 posted 02-18-2017 11:49 PM

Bondo, that is a great point on the wet sanding. I don’t think I have tried a second layer of danish oil without wet sanding when applying the second coat, but makes a lot of sense that would knock off some late wood stain every time. Thanks!

I have been experimenting with arm r seal semi gloss over top of the danish oil which is nice but a little thicker build off the wood than i prefer—- i like the flat “in-the-wood” effect of the danish oil but not really a big deal.

Actually i tried 3 coats danish oil, then a thinned out dewaxed shellac coat with transitint medium brown (1/2 oz per qt), followed by 3 coats arm-r-seal, and honestly the color and chatoyance is awesome, but just not quite fit the project.

- Van Cranberry

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1315 days

#3 posted 02-19-2017 12:00 AM

Another brown stain you could try is Rustoleum Kona.
Or if you can get some Van Dyke Brown universal tint, that will darken up your stain.
Sanding to 180 will help as well.

View OSU55's profile


2356 posts in 2405 days

#4 posted 02-19-2017 02:32 PM

Kudos Van for testing your finish before starting on the project!

“Actually i tried 3 coats danish oil, then a thinned out dewaxed shellac coat with transitint medium brown (1/2 oz per qt), followed by 3 coats arm-r-seal, and honestly the color and chatoyance is awesome, but just not quite fit the project.”

You don’t say what was really wrong with this approach, just that it didn’t fit, but this method will probably work – just need a different transtint color for the toner coat. If you need the base coat of Danish oil a different color, plain old ob poly can be thinned and ob dye (I use WD Lockwood) can by mixed in. You only need ~5-10% poly to provide enough binder to hold the dye. This might interest you.

View VanCranberry's profile


5 posts in 879 days

#5 posted 02-19-2017 03:06 PM

Thanks jbay and OSU55—i will check out the kona and the van dyke. As van cranberry, the van dyke has my attention.

I think the 3 danish-shellac-3 armrseal would definitely work and it is currently plan B. Why it doesn’t quite fit: ease of application, color, and look. The project is to finish handrail, balusters, newel post, and small built-in bar—- I am theorizing that danish oil-only finish will be easier to apply/finish/avoid dust nibs in all those curves and crannies than shellac and armrseal layers. (Feel free to poke holes in this theory.) I don’t have a workshop so this project will take over my living room for a couple weeks. Color and look: I am just being stubborn and want that look from the flexner book.

Basically I am spending 3 times as much time figuring out the quickest way to do the finish than it would take to just finish it ha ha. But i am learning a ton about finishing which is cool.

I have question if the danish oil finish will be enough for the bar-top water exposure or handrail wear, so i may end up arm-r-seal due to those issues anyway, but curious if danish oil-only could pull it off.

Also curious if i can skip the water-sponging step but my local woodcraft guy advised against even if not using a water-based stain or finish…. anybody ever see grain-raising during or after danish oil application??

Off to the store for more sample pieces…..

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30371 posts in 2754 days

#6 posted 02-19-2017 03:09 PM

I love Danish Oil, but it’s not the same as staining. What you need is probably stain.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Woodmaster1's profile


1179 posts in 3003 days

#7 posted 02-19-2017 07:37 PM

I use watco dark walnut on red oak and it matches my refinished 100 year old red oak trim.

View OSU55's profile


2356 posts in 2405 days

#8 posted 02-19-2017 10:34 PM

No danish oil will not hold up on a hand rail or bar top with water. Read the blog – any poly, arm-r-seal or even mw, can be used with dyes and applied just like danish oil. Thicker topcoats are easily added for wear/ water resistance. An oil pigment stain could be used before or after the 1st topcoat to get more color in the negative grain. Some pics of what you want would help, but I know sometimes its hard to describe just what your eye wants to see, and pics can be off color.

View VanCranberry's profile


5 posts in 879 days

#9 posted 03-05-2017 05:40 PM

Well folks, there is an old saying “Read the Instructions”—- I did that! But there is another old saying “FOLLOW the instructions.” I did not do that!! It turns out they really mean it when they say “shake can THOROUGHLY”——I think what probably happened from the beginning was I half-heartedly shook the danish oil can a couple times, most of the stain stayed in the bottom of the can, and gave me a weak result. After 2-3 weeks of trying ten different things, I shook the can really good and got pretty much exactly what i was looking for. So i feel stupid but happy i got it.

Anyway thanks for all the advice

OSU55 I read that blog post and really good stuff there i will definitely use that knowledge in the future…

View a1Jim's profile


117652 posts in 3993 days

#10 posted 03-05-2017 06:59 PM

When applying most oil based penetrating stains you normally will not get any darker than the second coat, the reason being is that oil base penetrating stains seal the wood off with one or two coats not allow any more stain to penetrant.
If after stirring your stain you still don’t get the color you want you may want to apply 1lb coat of shellac after your oil base stain is dry and apply a coat of General finishes dye/stain close to the color you want.If you use a thinned down dye/stain you can keep adding additional coats to get darker dye is on the surface so it doesn’t rely on penetration to add color.
Make sure you do this on some sample boards first and keep track of how you got the color you want.

View Manitario's profile


2759 posts in 3299 days

#11 posted 03-05-2017 08:02 PM

Not sure if this is exactly what you’re looking for but I’ve used this technique for finishing oak before; starting with a water based dye for the latewood gives you a lot of flexibility to find the colour you like. You can also then topcoat with poly to provide the durability you need for eg. a railing

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4064 days

#12 posted 03-05-2017 08:05 PM

I add oil-soluble dye powder to Watco to
make it darker.

View VanCranberry's profile


5 posts in 879 days

#13 posted 04-22-2017 09:02 PM

Ok slowly moving this thing forward and really happy with how its looking. Thanks for the tips!

Newel after 2 coat Black walnut danish oil:

Handrail and balusters after 2 coat Black walnut danish oil

Handrail after 1 coat Arm-R-Seal satin

Balusters after 1 coat Arm-R-Seal satin

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics