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A 30-Minute Side Table Makeover With Danish Oil

Back in June of 2021, I gave this side table in our breakfast room (currently being used as a sitting room) a makeover by stripping the heavy factory finish from the table to expose the natural wood.

I had intended to give the whole thing a protective coat of my favorite clear coat, General Finishes High Performance Topcoat in a flat finish. But after almost two years, I had still never gotten around to giving this table a protective coat. So naturally, the unprotected raw wood top has shown signs of use and wear.

I’m actually glad that I never got around to putting a clear coat on this table because in the two years since I stripped the table, I’ve learned about two new-to-me products for wood — Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus 2C in the color Pure, which is what I used on all of the walnut wood in our master bathroom, and Watco Danish Oil in dark walnut, which is what I used on my walnut WaterRower in the home gym. The Rubio Monocoat is a clear finish, and the Danish Oil in the dark walnut darkens the wood. I decided to give the Danish Oil a try on the table.

I’m not 100% sure what this wood is, although when I stripped the table in 2021, many people seemed convinced that the table is made of cherry. So I wasn’t expecting the color to be a deep and beautiful as it is on my walnut WaterRower. But I was pleasantly surprised with the color. Here’s a look at the front of the table before the Danish oil was applied…

And here’s the top drawer section and one leg with the Danish oil..

The whole process took me about 30 minutes. I applied the Danish oil with a paper towel, let it sit a few minutes, and then wiped off of the excess with another paper towel. It doesn’t get any easier than that! The oil gave the wood a beautiful medium brown finish. (Bonus points if you can find my cat in the picture below. 😀 )

I’m very pleased with how this turned out. And now Matt will be happy that the table top has some protection on it, so we won’t ruin the table completely. The color actually goes nicely with the wood blinds in the room.

The table top has one piece of wood that is considerably lighter than the rest in its natural color. It wasn’t so noticeable when the whole thing was a light color, but now that it’s all darker, that one light strip on the edge of the table top shows up even more. But I’m not bothered by it. That’s just the nature of finishing real wood. Not all of the pieces are going to take finish in the exact same way.

I’ve become a big fan of Danish oil and Rubio Monocoat for natural oiled finishes. There’s just such a natural beauty in an oiled finish as opposed to a polyurethane finish, and I find myself looking for more opportunities to use oiled finishes. I’m not sure how either of those would work on something like a dining table that gets regular use. When we are able to turn this room back into a breakfast room, and I can have a dining table in here again, I might be tempted to find a table that I can finish myself so that I can give one of these products a try on it.

People ask me on a regular basis what finish I would recommend for dining tables, and as of right now, the General Finishes High Performance Topcoat (which is a water-based polyurethane) is my favorite, hands down. But it would be good to find an alternative finish, and an oiled finish might be a good option. Hopefully Future Kristi will have an opportunity to find out! 😀

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  1. I used Osmo Hartwachs-Oil on my kitchen table top, which is cherry veneer. After 5 years it needs a new coat, but the rubbed-off parts looked just look beautifully weathered.

  2. so funny…I found the kitty and that is just too funny. Ours does the same and disappears for hours ….love the new table color! And thanks I also have one that needs the finish.

  3. I can’t believe how brave you are to stain something on top of your pretty rug without any sort of protection!! Wow!!

  4. I see your sweet cat, and she looks like she sees a label or something, so she is probably playing with that! So cute. Like the finish color a lot. That is such a cute table as well.

  5. Love that. It turned out great imho. Hubby works with wood and its so fascinating to me to see the different woods turn out in such different colors when altogether. Just beautiful.

    1. I used Klean Strip Premium Stripper from Home Depot. It’s my go-to stripper. I’ve tried the orange stuff, and other brands, but I always come back to this one.

  6. I use Rubio monocoat on my dining room table. It’s wonderful, my table is reclaimed wood and the finish is stunning. I’ve had the table for 7 years and just recently did another coat. The table is used regularly and the monocoat prevents water damage to the wood. I wouldn’t use anything else.

  7. It looks beautiful. The “stripe” that didn’t finish is probably sap wood or heart wood. Very dense and very difficult to stain. You can use aniline dye and that usually does the trick. Walnut, Cherry and Hickory are notorious for this. Tung oil is a great thing to use for a finish on a kitchen or dining table. It takes a lot of coats, but in the end, it is practically bulletproof to anything you can dish out. My father-in-law finished a kitchen table at their home back in the late 1960’s, and nothing has been done to it since, and it has seen 6 kids, 18 grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren and this thing looks as nice as the first time I saw it 36 years ago. It is a natural product but takes some time to use it. Try finding a Woodcrafter store near you, they are a chain and are usually staffed by what we call Wood Chips or Sawdust Men, nothing scary. Great job on the redo of the table, I love it…and the kitty.

    1. Lori, you clearly know a lot about finishes. I have some unfinished Teak on a covered porch. I’ve read up that it may weather to a silvery gray or I could put an oil on it to maintain the wood color. Do you happen to know the best product for this? I’ve gotten conflicting info online. Thx!

      1. I’m not Lori, but I would personally use teak oil on teak wood. That’s what I used on the teak shelf and shower stool in our bathroom. It keeps it a beautiful, natural brown color.

  8. Please please do!! I have a dining room table in my project room just waiting for you to give me your expert opinion!! 😄

  9. we have a kitchen table made from light wood (I’d say pine) and I regularly give it a rub of a colourless wood oil product after cleaning it first. The result is a vibrant wood with depths without being any darker and I just love that it takes only a quarter of an hour to have a beautiful table again. A friend of mine has a kitchen table with a polyurethane (or other?) clear coat and it looks scratched and old after years of use with their children. So I’d always go for the open wood structure instead – but it was pure luck in our case that we picked this (2nd hand) table and went with how it was… Now I know what I’m doing from your posts, thanks as always!!

  10. First, I saw that little head peeking out from under the chair, too cute! I have a thing for small tables and I love this one. I think the finish is beautiful. During Covid I refinished a coffee table that could be the sister to your table and I thought it was cherry. Stripped it down to bare wood and put a light cherry stain and it turned out beautiful.