If you dread the finishing part of a project as I used to, perhaps I can persuade you to give this mix/technique a try.
The idea of using an oil combined with a film forming finish is not new; this is simply the one I have settled on after experimenting with a number of different products.
An ideal finish should be easy to apply, enhance the grain and figure of the wood and provide a reasonable level of protection from normal wear and tear.
The soft hand rubbed glow is a bonus. If you want a shinier finish, apply more coats.
While we are at it, wouldn’t it be nice to have an easily repairable surface that does not require stripping.
This is it. Just give the surface a good cleaning, scuff sand with a foam sanding pad and reapply.
The application method assures there is no danger of brush marks or sags in the finish.
It dries fairly quickly so dust settling on the finish is not an issue.
The ingredients are as follows -
25% pure tung oil (available at Lee Valley)
25% spar (exterior) varnish
50% paint thinner
Japan drier – one capful per Cup of mix
Roughly a cup of mix will do a coffee table sized project.
I use this finish often enough that I mix up a quart at a time, without the Japan drier. Then I pour off as much as I need and add the drier.
Only mix up as much as you expect to use in two or three days, the drier will cause it to gel after that even in a closed container.
For the first coat I place an 8” square of T-shirt right in the container of mix.
Squeeze it out enough so it isn’t dripping all over the floor and apply to the wood, keep going over any thirsty spots for ten minutes or so.
Then firmly wring out the rag and use it to wipe the project off.
All other coats are simply wiped on and wiped off, again with the same rag.
The idea is to build up thin coats.
I have applied three coats in one day but I recommend one in the morning and one in the late afternoon.
I apply three to four coats on legs, etc. and at least six coats on tops. This may sound like a lot of work but a coat only takes minutes, it is similar to applying a coat of oil.
I sand lightly with fine foam sanding pads after the first coat and again before the last coat. A rag slightly dampened with paint thinner makes a good tack cloth or you can just use the air compressor to clean the surface.
After three days or so I will rub down the surface with white scotchbrite pads, always with the grain.
If the finish scratches you can wait another day or so for it harden further or continue to use the scotchbrite and wipe with the grain with a rag slightly dampened with paint thinner, this will dissolve any scratches.
If you are having a problem with streaking on large surfaces on the last coat, let it dry and apply another coat thinned another 50%.
It will take a week for the finish to fully cure.
BEWARE – If you substitute ingredients you are on your own
-- Don Kondra – Furniture Designer/Maker