The kitchen worktops feel permanently sticky. If you touch them nothing comes off on to your fingers but there’s this annoying tackiness. I think it’s probably down to a badly implemented combo of Danish oil and varnish. We had a new worktop fitted along one side, so that we could move the sink and fit a dishwasher, and we decided to sand off the surface of the old worktop and then oil them both. Hopefully this way they’ll match by the time we’ve finished. The old worktop obviously is ‘seasoned’ now, so there might be a slight difference in colour, but we’re giving it a go.
So over the long weekend me and my hangover (so unfair! I had all of two glasses of wine last night) got out the little mouse sander and went to work. If you want to do this here are the things I learnt.
- Whatever it was coating the worktop, there was a lot of it and it clogged up the sandpaper really quickly. booyaa suggested using a stiff brush to get rid of the build-up. That worked a treat. The layers of gunk weren’t wearing the sandpaper sheets out, it was just clog.
- My secondary school woodwork teacher sat on my shoulder and reminded my to sand with the grain for the entire duration of the task. So that was nice.
- Use the mouse’s nose to get into corners. If you have a nose extension (apparently it’s called a ‘detail finger attachment’ but we all know it’s a nose extension) you might find that useful for going over edges and corners. You’ll work out for yourself that the way you hold the mouse affects the range of sanding, and the little nose might help you even things up.
- You’re going to get very dusty. It’s quite noisy and not really the ideal hangover activity. I used a very lightly dampened cloth to wipe away some of the dust so I could see where I needed to go over. A hoover is also a handy ally.
- Sand until there’s not a single bit of sheen left. If it’s shiny, your oil won’t take. Since you’re going to all this effort you might as well get the best surface you can.
- I used loose sandpaper and a sanding block to finish off the last few bits.
Oiling. This is not as messy as you might think, but I do recommend you do this once you’ve tidied up after dinner and leave it to dry overnight. You’ll need three coats before you can start using your worktop with gay abandon. In between, put all your trays on the worktop and use them. We had one for the kettle and tea-making gear. Another next to the sink for the compost caddy and soaps. The last one was for dirty dishes which don’t go in the dishwasher. That will save your sanity.
I used a fairly cheap own-brand Danish oil. Danish oil is a mix of linseed oil and varnish, and it’s sometimes called ‘wiping varnish’, which is a very accurate description. It’s designed to protect the wooden worktop but without creating a solid coat which varnish would do. I’ve since read up on these things and apparently the Best Ever Worktop Oil is called Osmo Top Oil, so I’ll be swapping to that in future. Here are your steps and recommendations for using standard Danish oil.
- Make sure the surface is clean and dry. Use a lint-free cloth to spread the oil over the surface of the worktop.
- Work slowly, apply a thin, even coat. Once you get to the end go back and wipe any excess oil away. There wasn’t any excess in my case, so perhaps I was a little stingy.
- Make sure you cover the edges of the worktop too.
- Leave to dry overnight.
- If the grain lifts then sand lightly before applying another coat the next day.
- After three coats the wood should be waterproofed and protected. Leave the final coat for 24 hours then, if you want, you can buff the surface to a shine. I chose not to.
(I tried taking before and after photos but you don’t appreciate the difference in a photo. At least, not with my poor photographic skills.)