Finishing a guitar with Danish Oil

The thing that I find most important to getting a great finish with Danish Oil is to make sure that the first few coats penetrate into the wood as deeply as possible. To help this process I make sure that the work room is good and warm and that the piece sits in there for a couple of hours to come up to temperature. I than put the unopened tin of Danish Oil into a bowl of hand-hot water for 5 mins.

Once it has warmed through, I give the can of oil a damn good shake and decant a little into an open-topped container.

Using a lint free cloth I apply a generous coating of the oil, allow it to sit for a few minutes and wipe of any excess. I give that coat 10-20 minutes for that to soak right in and if the surface still has dry spots then repeat. It usually takes me two or three coats to get to this stage.

Now that the wood has soaked up as much as it is going to, the next stages are to build up the depth of the finish. I allow the piece to dry for at least 4-5 hours between coats.

I use a fine piece of wet and dry abrasive paper (1200 grit), dip it into the oil, and then moving in small circles, very lightly work it into the surface of the wood. I found that if you listen carefully you can actually hear the noise change once you’ve smoothed the surface. Once I’ve gone over the whole surface, I give it a wipe down with the aforementioned lint free cloth and hang it up to dry for 4-8 hours. I go round this loop until I’m happy with the depth of finish (I always give it at least 6 or 7 coats).

In between coats, I return the unused oil back into the tin and tie up the rags and wet and dry into a plastic bag to keep them from drying out.

After the final coat, it gets left for 12-24 hours and then I treat to a good beeswax polish. Job done.

As I write this I’m onto the fifth coat on the Telecaster and I should have coats 6, 7 and 8 applied today. Tomorrow afternoon will be final polish, assembly and set up.

In between coats I’ve been using Inkscape to try out various ideas for a headstock logo. Overlaying it onto a picture of the head, this is what I’ll probably be going with. I’ll be using the same technique with laserprint water-slide decals that I used on the Shaftesbury refurb.

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3 thoughts on “Finishing a guitar with Danish Oil

  1. Dave, I want one. Can you tell me or do you have a post of the water slide stuff. I tried it once but didn’t work. Thanks

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