Problems with Pure Tung Oil on Claro Walnut Burls

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Forum topic by Richard Anthony Charpentier posted 10-19-2015 12:46 AM 1100 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch

10-19-2015 12:46 AM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut cherry maple claro walnut northern california walnut oregon walnut black walnut tung oil pure tung oil varnish lacquer stain staining finishing oil oiling sanding sand modern traditional question resource tip burl slab milled

Hey Guys, I took up woodworking this past year as a hobby. I’ve found some success, selling a few pieces for just enough to start some new projects. Of course, being fairly new to this trade sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing! I scroll through the posts here on LJ, reading others questions, afraid of posting my own. However this problem that I’ve had on about 5 pieces I have found no answer for and pray someone here can help me.

I love burls, and making coffee tables out of them. I’ve been working with mostly Northern California “Claro” Walnut. I love the colors browns, reds; the grain pattern. All I want to do is make the grain pop just a little more before I seal it by spraying some Pre-Cat Lacquer (after wood has cured).

This is my problem, I use pure tung oil for that color pop. I usually see beautiful results on everything besides burls. When I do oil the burl, IT TURNS BLACK. Even when dry it’s dark enough that I lose out on all my wonderful colors and grains. I am forced to sand it to get even a glimpse of life from these poor pieces. Please does anyone know what my problem is, how I can fix it (Mineral Sprits?) and how I can achieve a tad bit more color without drastically darkening my piece. (Skip staining altogether and just lacquer?)

Here is some more information about my situation..

- I progressively sand up to 220 grit
- Clean the surface and get right to the staining (skipping a sanding sealer – possible problem?)
- Apply 100% pure tung oil with a foam brush (too much oil, over-saturate?)
- I thin the first coat using citrus solvent (also makes it much darker than un-thinned)
- 1 day after coat I buff with 0000 steel wool

3 replies so far

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1169 posts in 2700 days

#1 posted 10-19-2015 06:00 AM

Skip the tung oil and just use lacquer. Straight lacquer has enough of the ambering effect to pop the color of the burls, no need for anything else.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View jerryminer's profile


944 posts in 1611 days

#2 posted 10-19-2015 07:15 AM

I’m with Mark. Skip the oil. Your burls are largely end grain and soaking up so much oil that the grain gets obliterated. (Test on the bottom side of a piece and prove it to yourself)

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5126 posts in 2663 days

#3 posted 10-19-2015 11:03 AM

It’s the nature of the oil (any oil) to darken the walnut. I would also recommend skipping it altogether.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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