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Formby's not so Tung Oil Finish

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Review by pallystu posted 12-22-2014 05:40 AM 25727 views 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I have used Formby’s Tung Oil Finish for years since it is readily available at the local home improvement store and is easy to use. They sell this product as a “mix of tung oil and other fine penetrating oils” and appears to be nothing other than a wiping varnish with maybe a tad bit of oil in it with tons of thinner.

The can says You wipe it on with a rag and buff it into the wood and do this maybe three times to get a nice close to the wood finish that has a good amount of shine to it. The can says to let it dry overnight or for at least 12 hours between coats but I don’t find that necessary as its normally dry in less than an hour.

I find that it is best applied with a high grit (1000) wet or dry sand paper in a “polishing” motion like your waxing a car. I find that it sands into the wood and gives it a bit more depth to it. I will do this for three coats with an hour between them and then let it set for a day. A day later i will buff it with some wax and 000 wool. I have done this with every thing from boxes, rings, to rifle stocks with good success.

This product is an interesting one since it looks like a nice oil finish but drys alot like a wiping varnish. It will not build up a thick film but instead it just gives the wood a nice shine and smooth feel to it that makes you want to touch it. It will not pop the grain as much as BLO or other real oil finishes and it will not protect like a massive coat of poly but i do have to say it looks really nice and is alot faster.

I would say the best use for this product is for mid level projects that you would like to have a natural yet shinny finish on but that don’t need allot of protection. Think keep sake boxes, turnings, carvings, or rings. I have used it on rifle stocks before like i said and they have held up but they dont see heavy use. Its cheap, easy to use, and looks great…it has always worked for me so i would say give it a shot. I only gave it 4 stars since i think its a good go to finish for small projects but i dont like how they market it as a “tun oil finish” when its really not an oil finish.

-- take your time




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pallystu

75 posts in 1755 days



14 comments so far

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Ripthorn

1458 posts in 3131 days


#1 posted 12-22-2014 02:45 PM

I used this on a king size bed and have been very pleased. My method was to sand the wood the 320, apply a couple coats, sand with 320 again (lightly) and then after the final coat, use brown paper bag to rub it down. It has given it a satiny feel that just begs to be touched. I quite like it, but like you said, not much in the way of protection.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

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pallystu

75 posts in 1755 days


#2 posted 12-22-2014 04:08 PM

it is a really good finish and I love it on walnut more than any thing else :) I only like using it on things that will get babied though…im not sure a bed would not get a little bump or two ;)

-- take your time

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Blackie_

4883 posts in 2659 days


#3 posted 12-22-2014 06:55 PM

I use it for the sole purpose of an under coat not a top coat and I like the effect it gives me as well.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at http://www.facebook.com/randy.blackstock.custom.wood.designs

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Ripthorn

1458 posts in 3131 days


#4 posted 12-22-2014 08:36 PM

The bed has gotten a couple of dings on it, but I don’t think a better finish would have stood up to the blows the kids gave it any better :)

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

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DaleM

958 posts in 3530 days


#5 posted 12-22-2014 09:14 PM

I’m glad to hear you are experiencing quick dry times. I think I just got a bad can. I have used it for years and liked it, always in the metal can. The last time I bought it was in a plastic bottle and it takes days to dry and still stays somewhat tacky. I figured they changed the formula and wasn’t happy with it and wasn’t planning on buying it. I saw another post awhile back where someone liked it, but I figured that could just as easily be an old can. I’m guessing yours is newer than mine, so maybe I’ll give it another try.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

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Wildwood

2425 posts in 2281 days


#6 posted 12-22-2014 11:20 PM

Formby’s is a wiping varnish stopped using it years ago.

http://www.popularwoodworking.com/techniques/finishing/oil-finishes-their-history-and-use

I make my own using 50/50 mix of resin (Polyurethane or Varnish) and mineral spirits. Normally take two coats of wiping varnish to equal one coat of film finish. So if only apply two coats of wiping varnish not getting big build up of finish. Lot of wood finishers will use 50/50 mix for first two coats than up resin content to 60 percent and decrease amount of solvent for next coats. I stay with a 50/50 mix and depends upon wood & final use as to number of coats. The more coats better sheen & protection.

Not sure what the label on Formby’s says percentage of mineral spirit content is and could not find an MSDS to tell me. You never want to buy a wiping varnish with more than 60 percent solvent (mineral spirits, naphtha).

If add oil to that mix (oil varnish blend) will not get a build up of finish or sheen! Home brew oil varnish blends normally 1/3 resin, 1/3 oil, and 1/3 solvent.

-- Bill

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OSU55

1866 posts in 2136 days


#7 posted 12-23-2014 05:16 AM

I also make my own using poly or varnish diluted 50% with MS – same as and a lot cheaper than all these oil and wiping varnishes. Even Minwax poly can be used the same way you’re using Formby’s. What the finished piece looks like depends on film thickness and sheen. For the oil look, keep the surface wet for 10 minutes or so and wipe off. If a little more fim thickness is desired, use a fine bristled brush to essentially brush the finish dry – keep brushing and occasionally wipe the brush dry on a shop towel. Many different looks or finishes can be had with plain old poly. Various companies have sold a lot with good marketing.

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Tennessee

2880 posts in 2661 days


#8 posted 12-23-2014 09:45 PM

Bill and OSU, curious to how long of a shelf life you get out of your mixed finishes. I went to Tru-Oil about two years ago for a lot of my stuff, and say for guitars, I get about 8-10 guitars out of one quart bottle of Tru-Oil, polished to mirror, and it is tough. My shelf life seems to be good for about 18 months.

I would not mind mixing if I knew that I could keep the remainder for the next few projects. I’d find it almost impossible not to mix excess and end up tossing it if I knew there was not much of a shelf life.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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OSU55

1866 posts in 2136 days


#9 posted 12-24-2014 06:31 AM

Shelf life will only be extended by thinning the poly or varnish. I would say at least 18 months, depending on the storage container. The more airspace above the more product will oxidize. I have used poly that was several years old, but not on something like a guitar.

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Wildwood

2425 posts in 2281 days


#10 posted 12-24-2014 12:03 PM

Paul might get 18 months to two years out of a can of unmixed poly or varnish. For wiping varnish mix as needed and never store once mixed for more than couple days.

Thing about most oil film finishes including shellac can thin with proper solvent and wipe on first coat and let dry; sand to level before apply full coats to get faster build of sheen.

-- Bill

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11822 posts in 3834 days


#11 posted 12-26-2014 03:57 AM

FORMBY’S* Tung Oil Finish, Low Gloss
% by WT
78% Mineral Spirits….Doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for anything else in it.
No mention of Tung Oil in ingredients on MSDS

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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pallystu

75 posts in 1755 days


#12 posted 12-27-2014 03:18 PM

yeah I know it has little else in it dusty…its a pretty nice quick drying wiping varnish but I still find the labeling dishonest.

-- take your time

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OSU55

1866 posts in 2136 days


#13 posted 12-28-2014 01:05 PM



Paul might get 18 months to two years out of a can of unmixed poly or varnish. For wiping varnish mix as needed and never store once mixed for more than couple days.

Thing about most oil film finishes including shellac can thin with proper solvent and wipe on first coat and let dry; sand to level before apply full coats to get faster build of sheen.

- Wildwood

Why do you say thinned varnish should not be stored for more than a few days?

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Wildwood

2425 posts in 2281 days


#14 posted 12-28-2014 09:59 PM

That is how I roll, nothing says you cannot store your homebrew wiping varnish more that few days!

-- Bill

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