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"Hobbit Holes in MyWorld" --by RusticWoodArt #26: Drupes and Drupaceous Nuts as Tung Oil

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Blog entry by frank posted 2057 days ago 4480 reads 7 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 25: WoodWorking Vision Part 26 of "Hobbit Holes in MyWorld" --by RusticWoodArt series Part 27: In Search of Imaginations Greatest Dream »

Drupes and Drupaceous Nuts as Tung Oil

So lets cut to the center of the fruit….like cutting to the quick, and talk about China Wood Oil, wood nut oil or just plain ‘tung oil’. And since we’re talking in the language of botany, maybe it would be best too first say that tung oil is not a true nut, but is a fruit that comes to us as a drupe or what is also called ‘stone fruit’. Definition of a drupe….stone fruit is: ’’a one-seeded indehiscent fruit having a hard bony endocarp, a fleshy mesocarp, and a thin exocarp that is flexible (as in the cherry) or dry and almost leathery (as in the almond)’’, from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary; drupes. Now to break that down some more and bring that stone fruit closer to home, let me just say that a drupe is a fruit with an endocarp layer that surrounds the seed. If this sounds confusing then also understand that endocarps are also surrounded by fleshy mesocarps….and then there are exocarps. Wow, and I thought we were just talking about tung oil….so don’t be a nut, but know your fruits. And yes, I suppose that if I was wanting to add to this, I could just say that what has been called wood nut oil….is really just short of saying false nuts.

Continuing on I can say that tung oil is my most used finish for wood and that there are times when the wood is soaked with only tung oil in multiple coats….and other times when it is used as the first level of finish, which then has other finishes applied afterwards. There are really no-secrets to tung oil, as all one needs is a willingness to experiment and adopt this finish in each situation that comes along….plus time, which to to my way of thinking means time to learn.

Do//did you know that what is sold by some folks as ‘tung oil’, has little to maybe no-tung oil in it at all? A lot of the big box store companies sell tung oil as labeled finishes when in truth, what you are buying is an oil//varnish mixture. These are more commonly sold as …. ... finishes and such, but they are tung oil mixtures with polys and varnish added. What does this mean….well, they will seal the wood after the first coat and all coats put on afterward will only build up more layers of coats….this is not pure 100% tung oil.

So if you are wanting an oil//varnish finish that is called tung oil….well go and pay for what being sold as such.

Pure 100% tung oil can be bought at Rockers and Woodcraft stores and it will say on the bottle….100% pure tung oil.

I buy my 100% pure tung oil from Hopes and to tell the truth I’ve never figured out why they don’t advertise their product on their site but then….? The reason I buy from them is that I can get the tung oil in gallons and it’s cheaper that way when buying many gallons, but even if buying one gallon, the price would be worth it over buying many quarts….

You must also understand that 100% pure tung oil is meant to be cut 50:50 with mineral spirits or gum turpentine….and to speed up the drying//curing process I will also add a couple of drops of Japan dryer which can be purchased at paint stores and hardware stores. I will usually mix a batch up, 1/2 gal. tung oil and 1/2 gal. gum turps and store in plastic white orange juice gallons which I save for this purpose.

I will also add the below information, if any should like to go and make up their own varnish mixtures instead of using that out of the can stuff. To my way of thinking why use out of the can, when I can mix my own and then comes the understanding that this is my mixture….I mean, not only did I do the woodworking myself, but the finishing of the wood is also mine.

If you are wanting a oil//varnish mixture with tung oil in it, then instead of paying for some company to make it and charge you for what is high price….why not make it yourself. I again use Hopes 100% pure tung oil, cut 50:50 with gum turps, plus the few drops of Japan dryer, (and yes, the recipe is on the bottle for cut) along with a good pure varnish such as coming from Benjamin Moore. You can by this in quarts….and again take the varnish and tung oil and mix together at a 50:50 cut. This will make a very nice wiping tung oil//varnish finish….dries fast so that you can do multiple coats in a short time. Just remember to wipe on with a lint free cloth rag….and if you’ve got to wipe of the excess, your putting it on too heavy. And yes, a little bit goes a long way, with other coats following.

Well lets continue on here as I’ve got to get this story on cyber-live-wire and so moving on I have black walnut which is in need of being coated with two coats of tung oil. From this picture one can see some of the other tools used in the tung oil process….latex gloves, paper towels torn small and the paper cup into which I will pour the china wood oil….

....here I have the wood, (black walnut) after the tung oil has been applied and after applying and letting set up, I wipe off any excess. I should go on at this point and mention to all that the left-over rags from the tung oil process are very much a fire accident waiting to happen. So I all-ways remove all the paper cups, gloves, rags and towels and either burn them immediately or I will soak//bury the left-overs in a container of water….and dispose of later….

....and then heres one with the sink siting in place….

Next I will be going after the sap wood there and so I will be showing how I used some tinted shellac to add some color before going on forward with several coats of shellac. I might mention also that this sink is one that my wife brought back from a trip to Mexico and is really made to be mounted as an under-the counter top-sink, however I was able to cut in the front of the counter top, right to the sink line at the over flow and therefore make this work for an above counter top mount. I mean lumberjocks can do any-thing right….?

Thank you.
GODSPEED,
Frank
RusticWoodArt

rusticwoodman@gmail.com
http://frank.wordpress.com/


’’....work smart, work safe, and live, to work the wood....’‘

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/



19 comments so far

View SteveKorz's profile

SteveKorz

2129 posts in 2215 days


#1 posted 2057 days ago

Good info Frank… keep typin’, I’m eatin it up.

Thanks for the post, I didn’t realize all that about tung oil.

—Steve

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View trifern's profile

trifern

8132 posts in 2268 days


#2 posted 2057 days ago

Great blog Frank. It started out a little nutty and fruity, but it finished well. You referred to the white oak. It appears to be walnut, or I’m I all cracked up this morning? As always, thanks for sharing.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View frank's profile

frank

1492 posts in 2707 days


#3 posted 2057 days ago

—-hello Steve; ....so I guess I’ll keep typin’ and sawn’, while you get a free lunch….LOL….
—-hi Trifern; ....now what would I do without my proof-readers. And yes, you are right….I guess since I’ve been cutting white oak all day, I’ve got white oak on the brain. The wood in question here is walnut, so I’ll have to go back in and change//edit that bit of wood information. Once again thanks for bringing this to my attention….

Thank you.
GODSPEED,
Frank

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/

View Karson's profile

Karson

34796 posts in 2902 days


#4 posted 2057 days ago

Frank: I’m not sure of your recipie. You write about using Japan Drier and I’m not sure when you are saying to add it.

I’ve always added japan drier at the time of using the finish, and only putting it in the oil being used. Are you adding it to your gallon of mixture at the time of making it, or when you are using it?

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

4746 posts in 2214 days


#5 posted 2056 days ago

Thank you Frank for this great information.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View frank's profile

frank

1492 posts in 2707 days


#6 posted 2056 days ago

Hello Karson;
....yes, I add the Japan drier when I mix up a fresh gallon, and I’ve been doing this for too many years now….LOL.

I’m wondering if you’re thinking that the drier will cause the finish to harden or skin over? In my ‘experience’ I can say that that has not happened with any mixture of tung oil, (and remember when I’m talking of tung oil, I’m not talking of the wiping varnish mixture) I’ve mixed. The wiping varnish mixture I make is usually done in small quantities and mixed as I need it....and maybe I should have not included that recipe here as it may confuse the issue if one is not paying attention to what they are reading. Some-times by the time I get to the bottom of a gallon of pre-mixed tung oil, there will be some particles that just need to strained off, but that holds true for any finish and the residue.

I some-times tint a gallon of tung oil and it will take a year or so to re-use what is left-over and I can say there has been no-problem. I might mention that in the picture I have posted above with the the gallon can, I also place between the can and lid some doubled up, more like four times plastic wrap and then when I’m closing the can up, I will also squeeze the sides of the can to expel extra air inside the can. When-ever I go to open the can up, much of the time I will hear an intake of air surging back into the can….and who knows, maybe I’ve just given a secret away for free. I also save quart size peanut butter glass jars and use these also for storing my tung oil and shellac mixtures, and again be-tween the glass jar and lid I will place the plastic wrap….and yes with use, ever so often I will also use new plastic wrap since the old will wear out.

Hope this helps some and if you have any more questions ask away…..

Thank you.
GODSPEED,
Frank

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/

View Karson's profile

Karson

34796 posts in 2902 days


#7 posted 2056 days ago

Frank:

I’ve noticed that when I made up what i call my danish oil. 1/3 BLO. 1/3 Mineral Spirits, and 1/3 varnish that when I put it in a plastic squeeze bottle to be able to dispense it, that the bottle will almost collapse as the blo absorbs all of the air out of the bottle. I’ve added the japan drier at the time of putting it on the furniture and i found that any left over jells up in the container. Maybe I’m using too much Japan Drier.

The ratio that I’m using and you are using seem about the same. In your case 1 gal of Tung Oil, 1 gal of thinner and as you are using it 1 gal of varnish (50/50) of your first mixture..

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2323 days


#8 posted 2056 days ago

Thanks for the post, Frank. There is a lot of mis-information out there on finishes and finishing techniques. I am glad to see that you took the lead on this one and dispelled one of the prevailing myths about tung oil and how they are not all the same. One comment that I would add is that if the list of ingredients or msds states that it contains “mineral spirits” or “petroleum distillates” then this is a wiping varnish and not pure tung oil.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View frank's profile

frank

1492 posts in 2707 days


#9 posted 2056 days ago

Hello Karson;

I’m looking at a plastic squeeze bottle right now, after digging it out of my stash of finishes that I keep in my office here. You know the kind….16 oz. liquid storage container sold by———- stores across the country. And a very good plastic bottle it is, except for storing finishes like that mixture of tung oil varnish wiping finish and your danish oil mix. So does this look familiar to you….

....and I hope to not confuse any-one reading this report, as what I started out to explain was tung oil—gum turps and Japan drier and now we’re off on a tangent talking about tung oil varnish wiping finish and danish oil finish, which I assume you are also using as a wiping finish.

Let me once again clarify some issues here as I see them. My tung oil, gum turps and Japan drier are a wiping finish that I cut at a 50:50 cut….usually 1/2 gal. of pure 100% tung oil, 1/2 gal. gum turps and then I follow the directions on the Japan drier as to the drops or oz.’s I will be adding. All driers are different so read your drier and you will find that information….and remember that we are only talking drops to a few oz.’s here. I store that mixture in empty gal. metal cans and also empty plastic white jug gallons which come from what used to contain orange juice….(I might insert here also that I will at times pour off out of the gal., into glass quart jars and pint jars when I am going to a show and need a back-up just in case….I have to laugh here because of the times I have also turned motel rooms into finishing rooms. Might I also add that I have just used on a piece of wood art, a pint jar of a tung oil, gum turps and Japan drier mix that had been sitting for about two years and there was not the slightest hint of any gelling or skinning over.) Well I had better get my-self back on track here or who knows where this will go. These plastic gal. jugs are white so that sunlight is blocked out and yes, over time if not used up fast they will also suck inward, but I have had no-problem with them gelling up or skimming//skinning over and when the plastic gal jug sucks inward and I notice, I just release the cap and re-tighten. With the metal cans I will squeeze the sides as I am putting on the caps and I only use the empty Hopes metal cans or empty plastic white orange juice cans. I can not tell you if this makes a difference, but years ago I started placing the plastic wrap between the lids of the cans//jugs initially to keep the finish off the lids, but yes, I also believe this helps to give an extra level of protection to the finish by keeping all areas sealed tight. My experience with the gal. cans and jugs runs that one should for the most part be able to use what one has mixed in a years time, but then I have used cans that also went longer.

On the counter top I am writing about, I used the tung oil mix and this mix was first used back last summer for the summer 2007 awards contest. I had about an inch or two of mix left in the can, so I shook it up and used it on this project…..’’use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without’’. There can some-times be some gelled crud around the lid opening when one gets down to this level in the can, but since we’re talking a tung oil cut mix, I just strain off and apply….no-problem.

Now having said that, lets turn our attention to the opportunity of talking about the wiping varnish//danish oil mixture. Yes, you are right about our cut mixtures being the same….just different math equations to arrive at the same mix….; 1:1:1 or 1/3:1/3:1/3 = the same.

My first suggestion would be to stop using plastic for storing your wiping finish, ( I only use the solid white plastic for the tung oil, gum turps and Japan drier mix) and start using 100% pure tung oil. Next I might suggest to start eating peanut butter that comes in glass jars….LOL. Actually I make it a point to buy olives, peanut butter, hot peppers, no-jelly jars since we grow our own fruit and can, and then I even ask folks with young babies to save those glass jars for me….and I do have quite a collection of glass jars in all shapes and sizes. What I’m also wondering about, is are you following the directions on the side of the Japan drier you are using? I will admit that when it comes down to mixing these formulas up, I am quite meticulous about following the mixing ratios. I will use different types of calculated mixing containers and spoons to assure that I am getting the right mix. Next I will add that with the oil varnish mixture, I do not mix in large quanities and only mix for the project at hand. Also I will use the all-ready mixture of 1 part 100% pure Hopes tung oil, 1 part gum turps and the japan drier to which I will now also add the 1 part of Benjamin & Moore all oil varnish….and one must remember these ratios are just a starting point as my mixing ratio can varying from summer to winter.

This is the reason I say that if one wants to start mastering the art of finishing, one needs to spend some time doing tests on the wood. I’m not trying to discourage any-one here, but I have test pieces of wood all around me in my office and out in my barn with dates, finish information wrote down on the back side of wood that has been used to test a finish….and there are no-short cuts and yes, some of these test pieces date from some years ago. One can read a book, watch all the dvds they can attain, attend all the classes out there, but if one is not going to spend time sorting out and getting their own mix….one will not attain a mastery of finishing. As workers of wood we spend years learning how to work the wood and yet when it comes to finishing the wood, we expect to spend little time our-selves and so we find it easier to get what some-one else tells//sells us and then one wonders what went wrong. Finishing is no-secret and yet finishing does not come out of a can as all-ready mixed and sold by others, however very few will believe what I have just stated….and so the story goes. And please Karson I’m not writing about you or any-other in my mind here, so just consider this the ramblings of a finish freak who has worked the chemicals too long and has his brain fried.

Well I hope this helps some-what and if there remains more questions just ask away. I will close with one story of what I think about plastic and why it should not be used for long term storage or as far as I’m concerned any kind of storing of finishes. The story is told as I remember of how some folks at a company were looking into finding a mixture that would remove the ink from left over type setting racks//jigs. Well one day after mixing up a mix, they left the mix to be stored for the night in large plastic containers. Imagine their surprise when next morning these folks found that the mix had went right to work and what they now had was plastic melt-down all over the floor. The good news is that though this formula had no-use in removing type ink….what they had discovered was a great environmental paint stripper and, that product was made from soybeans. I do not use plastic, but some plastic stories have a good ending, job security, financial gain and are good for the environment. By the way, I also have used that product and yes, it works great.

Great talking with you Karson and….as I’m thinking about it, maybe I should make this a blog story post also;

Thank you.
GODSPEED,
Frank

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/

View trifern's profile

trifern

8132 posts in 2268 days


#10 posted 2056 days ago

Now you have really got me thinking, Frank. Time to start mixing, playing and experimenting. Thanks for the lessons.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View frank's profile

frank

1492 posts in 2707 days


#11 posted 2056 days ago

—-and yes, to all those who are inspired to get more in this area of finishing, I can only say this is a journey that will yield great results!

....may all your days be inspired by the way to finish a finish,
may all your rags be put to the flame of a well fed flicker,
may all your wood soak in the warmth of a masters own mix,
till in the end of tales the story is told of worked wood and finish as one
….

Thank you all for your comments….and;
GODSPEED,
Frank

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/

View Joey's profile

Joey

275 posts in 2316 days


#12 posted 2054 days ago

Tung is is my favorite finish also. I have used it straight on pieces taht won’t get much wear, but for pieces that do get alot of wear i mix my own finish. I got this from 2 different local woodworkers, one of who studied under Sam Maloof. I mix equal parts tung oil, BLO, and a good quality poly. I’ve found that using a gloss poly will give better results. it doesn’t dry with a gloss finish, but more of a satin.
I’m lucky that my source is a local cabinet supplier that buys tung oil by the 55 gallon barrel and then resales by the gallon jug. Before hurricane Katrina, mississippi had some of the best tung orchards in the world, and i was lucky enough to get some of that oil before it was blown away.
It’s a great easy finish that gives great results. you wipe it on and then wipe it off, and after it dries my daughter has the best quote for how it looks, “daddy i just want to touch and rub all over it” leave it to a 7 year old.

-- Joey, Magee, Ms http://woodnwaresms.com

View frank's profile

frank

1492 posts in 2707 days


#13 posted 2054 days ago

Hello Joey;
—-great hearing from you and yes, those of us who use tung oil know how good it is. Tung oil is kind of like a can of sardines….you eithe love them or hate them, there is no-middle ground.

As far as using the ‘gloss’ poly…..yes, the sheen of the finish is what makes for it’s long lasting durability. Low sheen….is least durable, while high gloss sheen is the most durable and long lasting….and this has to do with all those VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) they put in the can. As to the drying to a satin sheen this also comes from the diluting with the other ingredients.

I’ve actually used the poly’s and varnishes with several coats of high sheen gloss and then at the end applied a lower sheen which dulls the sheen appearance down. The high sheen makes for durability and the lower sheen tapers the edge of the gloss sheen down.

And yes, I also know about that comment of the touch and feel, but that also is because I imagine you prep the wood also with some great sanding?

Glad you stopped by to comment and….;

Thank you.
GODSPEED,
Franl

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/

View moshel's profile

moshel

864 posts in 2185 days


#14 posted 2054 days ago

Tung oil is my favourite finish as well. as for Joey comment that he uses pure tung oil only on on pieces that don’t get much wear – if you let it cure properly (and this take a long long while – 3 weeks). the surface is hard and can resist almost anything, including most chemicals. I used it to finish some toys for my daughter and they still look like new after almost a year of constant wear. another tip for using pure tung oil – warm it up. put the container in a pot of very hot water for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. will make it much more liquid and it will be absorbed much better.
another small comment – pure tung oil is absolutely non toxic. one of the very few finishes that cure and are not toxic at all. if you add to it varnish this is not the case. not sure about Japan dryer – never used it.

Thanks Frank for bringing this terrific finish in such details. (Toda raba?)

-- The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep...

View frank's profile

frank

1492 posts in 2707 days


#15 posted 2054 days ago

....first of all I want to thank every-one for their comments that just keep coming in….it’s all-most like the tung oil geeks just keep on coming out of the wood-work here on this subject.

—hello Moshel; ....and you are most correct about the pure application of straight tung oil along with what Joey also said. You have also stated why some users of tung oil will not apply straight pure….since you mentioned the 3 weeks….and I’ve had it take longer then that. Three weeks….4 weeks and longer according to time of year, weather, temperatures and humidity is a long time for woodworkers to wait and, then what happens if this is only the first coat.

When talking tung oil one can also get into the subject/technique called ‘tung oil bath’, except I’ve never been able to do this one yet with a large table…..maybe I should just go and buy a large bath tub….LOL. Actually the tung oil bath is perfect for those who are wood-turners and carvers working in smaller pieces, (whatever one can fit inside a 5 gallon bucket of tung oil), if they can wait out a month and longer of bathing and drying//curing. One might also consider doing several wood pieces also at this time, this way. And yes on the bath works of tung oil, I might be accused of downsizing the total time so as to not discourage any….as only you will know when it’s done.

Moshel; you mention a very good point here when you also talk of warming the tung oil up on the stove in a pot of hot water. I have also done this with pure tung oil and with boiled linseed oil and beeswax mixtures and I will stand at the stove and stir the can inside the pot of water. My wife is so use to this by now, that she just walks on by with no-comment, no-explosions yet. I also have a steaming pot where I place water in the bottom and then there’s a pot on top that sits into the lower one….water in the one on the bottom and tung oil in the top one so that the steam from the boiling water below warms the top pot up, containing the tung oil. Found this one at a yard sell for a dollar….ah yes, what a dollar still buys.

....and yes an-other great point you also make about 100% pure tung oil being non-toxic….

Once again to all writing and commenting I….;

Thank you.
GODSPEED,
Frank

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/

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