How to Preserve Workbenches

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Workbenches are the centerpiece of any workshop. Often equipped with a bench grinder, bench vise and and tool organizer, they can absorb plenty of heavy wear and tear. Over time, an unfinished workbench can turn ugly from absorbed grease, dirt, and spilled fluids. Preserve your workbench and protect it from staining by sealing the wood with Danish oil. Danish oil is a blend of oil and varnish that will seal the wood without making it glossy or slippery.

Things You'll Need

  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • 440-grit wet/dry sandpaper
  • Sanding block
  • Tack cloth
  • Clean cotton shop cloths
  • Paintbrush or staining pad
  • Steel wool pads (#0000)
  • Paste wax (optional)
  • Lightly sand all surfaces on the workbench. Begin with 180-grit sand paper and finish with 220-grit sandpaper. Use an electric sander to ensure consistent sanding coverage.

  • Vacuum up the dust and wipe down the workbench with a tack cloth to remove any sanding debris.

  • Apply a generous layer of Danish oil. Apply the oil with a brush, rag or a staining pad.

  • Massage the oil into the wood using 400-grit wet/dry sandpaper and a sanding block. Allow the oil to sit on and penetrate the wood for about 30 minutes (including the time working the oil with sandpaper). Work in small, successive sections in order to prevent oil from sitting on the surface for too long.

  • Wipe off the excess oil with a clean cotton shop cloth and leave the workbench to dry overnight.

  • Sand lightly any dried oil that has seeped back out of the wood pores with 400-grit sandpaper.

  • Apply a second layer of Danish oil. This time, the oil does not need to be massaged in with sandpaper. Let the oil sit for 30 minutes, then wipe off the excess.

  • Apply two or three additional coats to develop an tough protective finish. Lightly sand between each coat with a steel wool pad.

  • Allow the final coat to dry for a few days until completely cured before using your workbench.

Tips & Warnings

  • Unless you are adverse to the feel of a waxed surface, the workbench can be given a final coating of paste wax. A paste wax is not a protective finish, but it will fill cracks and create a soft sheen. Massage the wax onto the surface using a clean shop cloth, and work it into the wood with a circular motion. Allow paste wax to dry overnight.

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