Danish oil engraving finishing advice needed

Hi All,
I need some advice on finishing a project. I’m carving a Hogwarts clock and would like to colour the engraving for contrast.

I like the results I get with Danish oil and the ease of application, but I’m getting bleeding problems when I try to get a traditional spirit based stain into the engraving. The photo below shows a couple of things that I’ve tried on a test piece. Each time I wiped the stain off with a turpentine soaked rag almost immediately.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to get a better result? I don’t mind doing a bit of sanding, but the engraving is less than 1mm deep. Do paint a Danish oil get along together.

Thanks for any ideas.

have you considering using a mask like Oramask? It would keep the stain only in the cuts.

If it was me I would stain it dark , and seal it with shellac , then fill the carving in with black or white acrylic paint , then wipe off the excess …

Example :

Before you carve the detail, apply sanding sealer and let it dry. After you carve and clean it up, apply sanding sealer and let it dry. Make sure you use enough sealer to soak that wood. After that you should experience less bleeding.

If you used black paint instead, do three light coats of quick drying matte clear coat prior to painting after sealing. Then, you can just wipe away the excess paint (and sand only if necessary).

So what you are saying is it gets 2 coats of sanding sealer? 1 coat before carve then another after you do your carve?

Yes. The first helps with fuzzies. The 2nd goes into the engravings to seal them up. Really slop it in there and let it dry. I apply with paper towel… no biggie.

Sometimes, I v-carve when it is a little damp - not completely dry. Provides a nice cut. A quick light sanding before carving makes a nice smooth surface and helps with a clean shear on the v-bit as well.

thank you nice advice.

If you use sanding sealer, will the Danish oil still be able to soak into the wood?

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That was my thought also. I am not sure the Danish oil would penetrate and would lay on top of the sanding sealer. Paint would work fine.

Not as much. You could also hit it with a coat or two of clear coat as well. Paint is the right choice here, but Danish oil should sit up and eventually harden even if it doesn’t soak in. Did you try this approach already?

Here are a couple I have done, it is a technique used on the Aztec Calendars (star Wars and Marvel) Designs by Phil does something very similar with stain, Shelac then fill with paint as well.

Heavy coat of Shelac
Lightly sand with 320 grit
Spray with copper paint
Blot in Acrylic black, using damp cloths wrapped TIGHT around a block in small sections wipe off the paint. A final cleaning after the paint dries can be done with water and or mineral spirits


I like the results you got by pocketing parts of the shield rather than a straight line engraving like I did.

If I understand you correctly, Danish oil will not soak in to the same extent if you use sanding sealer.

As for paint, should I spray paint the engraved bits, let it dry and then sand followed by a finish like Danish oil?

Nice looking piece, trying for a look like the ram could be the way to go.

If you are going to paint use a spray clear coat matte and use three coats. Then, slop paint into the engraving. Wait 24 hours. Then sand over the top with 150 grit (rough is key) to remove the excess paint and clear coat from the surface. Then apply danish oil. Make sure your Danish oil is “polymerized” so it will harden. Danish oil is supposed to have polymers in it I believe.


Ah hah, I guess I’m off to get some clear coat then. Thanks!

Have you tried painting the board, then put painters tape over entire surface, has to be flat no bubbles. Then carve, leave tape on and paint again. Let dry 24 hours before pulling tape off.

I took Earwigger’s advice and am really happy with the results.

If I was doing this again, I would simplify the design as some detail was too fine at this scale resulting in a bit of chip out. But over all I’m pretty pleased. One benefit of Earwigger’s technique is that the paint helps to hide engraving imperfections :grinning:

Thanks to all who chimed in.