a question about tung oil

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Forum topic by jems posted 03-15-2010 03:04 AM 14432 views 1 time favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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47 posts in 3235 days

03-15-2010 03:04 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

when using tung oil how many coats would you recommend and how often do you reapply

-- every good gift and every pefect gift is from above James 1:17

15 replies so far

View Andrew Betschman's profile

Andrew Betschman

309 posts in 3461 days

#1 posted 03-15-2010 03:34 AM

you can re coat every 24 hours. I would use #0000 steel wool between coats. What the top coat going to be Shellac? If so you can use one or two coats.

-- Andrew, Ohio

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11147 posts in 3666 days

#2 posted 03-15-2010 04:17 AM

If no top coat use at least 4 coats, (depends on porosity)and as above, OOOO between coats.
May not be necessary, but I finish off with a couple coats of Carnuba wax.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View jems's profile


47 posts in 3235 days

#3 posted 03-15-2010 04:22 AM

that top coat stuff throgh me off i’m new to finishes and i didn’t know you had to use a top coat

-- every good gift and every pefect gift is from above James 1:17

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4006 days

#4 posted 03-15-2010 04:30 AM

tung oil is just an oil. really doesn’t offer any protection to the wood or anything. for me i skip the tung oil and i prefer to use General Finishes Seal-A-Cell and Arm-R-Seal in that order. Seal-A-Cell will pop the grain better than anything out there and Arm-R-Seal is a thicker varnish so you can build up a topcoat. but they are both drying resins so they will give you an actual topcoat that will protect the wood.

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

453 posts in 3243 days

#5 posted 03-15-2010 06:30 AM

Tung oil finish is very durable. I have used it on Stair Treads and it lasts a long time. Use the 000 wool betwwn coats, in warm weather allow 24 hours between, and do about 6 coats (for stairs) if it’s something with less wear use 4.

You don’t need any top coat. Tung oil polymerizes and is a nice finish. Paste wax on top if anything.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4059 days

#6 posted 03-15-2010 12:02 PM

Jems, tung oil is one of the more confusing finishes that is available. As far as the number of coats goes it really depends on the “tung oil” that you are using. It is a term that is highly abused, in my opinion, by the industry. I am guessing that you are using a product that is simply labeled tung oil, such as this. Generally these are wiping varnishes that either have a tung oil included as a minor ingredient or produce a “tung oil” like appearance. Two to three coats should be sufficient to provide surface protection for your project, unless it is something like stair treads, as Michael mentioned. You can build a finish with these wipe on products that protects the surface of wood well.

There is a pure tung oil product available but the label should read 100 % pure tung oil. This produces a relatively soft finish coat that is somewhat flexible and should be limited to 2 to 3 coats as it does not “build” well.

Here is some additional information that may help explain the differences.

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

View Mike's profile


93 posts in 3402 days

#7 posted 03-18-2010 06:03 AM

So what are the advantages of 100% tung oil over a tung oil finish?

I am going to try some 100% tung oil just to see how it is. How long to wait after last coat to top coat. Thinking about trying some shelac as I havn’t done that either. Probably try some poly over it aslo to see how it looks.

Any other suggestions for a top coat keeping in mind my goal is to pop the grain and give a deep look as simply as possable. The small boxes I am doing now are semi poduction work and I need to minimize my time.
I would like to stay away from wax because of the continuing maintinance isshue.

Thanks for any help.

-- Mike, Cantral Oregon

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6349 posts in 3432 days

#8 posted 03-18-2010 06:29 AM

Greetings Mike:.... I use 100% tung oil all the time. It’s one of my favorite finishes. 100% t.o. has no dryers and thinners in it. It has to be mixed at 50/ 50 ratio with mineral spirits. Don’t get it confused with tung oil finish——they’re not the same. Pure t.o. is just that——pure. When mixed right, I can put on 2-3 coats in a day. But—- I usually add more m.s. than half to speed drying time. Most of my applications with t.o. is usually on my shop furniture and shop jigs, not very often on furniture I build for others… that’s a different ballgame….

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....!!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18423 posts in 3913 days

#9 posted 03-18-2010 09:03 AM

Why do you use it for yourself and not for others ?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View moshel's profile


865 posts in 3921 days

#10 posted 03-18-2010 09:40 AM

pure Tung oil is my favorite finish. I disagree with Scott – it forms a very hard and durable coat if applied properly.
it is a naturally curing oil (one of the very few) and very very slow drying. If you apply a second coat before the first one is finished, you will get soft and ugly finish.
My application schedule:
dillute 50/50, warm a little (carefully!!! use hot water and not naked flame), soak the surface and re-soak at areas that dry until you get saturation. wait 15-30 min (depending on the weather), wipe with a clean rag until no wet areas are visible. make sure its properly wiped, as “wet” areas will become gummy.
wait 5-7 days. yes, 5-7 DAYS.
if applying to surface made of single kind of timber, put second coat with 0000 or 320 grit wet and dry sandpaper. this will create a “sludge” that will close the pores. apply liberaly, again wait 15-30 min and wipe 90 degrees to the grain.
if applying to surface that is made of, for example, maple and black walnut, do not wet rub the tung oil as it will darken the maple or whiten the walnut. in this case wet sand with 320 or 400 grit sandpaper with water as lubricant and wipe dry before applying the second coat. again, completely wet the surface, wait and wipe carefully with a clean rug. this coat should be left alone for at least 2 days preferably 5 and buffed with an old sock to the typical shine of tung oil. I let it dry for a month before giving/selling it. only after a month it is fully cured.
for most application, 2 coats create very durable surface. I have toys I made for my kids with 2 coats of tung oil and they took the abuse much better than any other finish I have ever used.

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

View moshel's profile


865 posts in 3921 days

#11 posted 03-18-2010 09:43 AM

one more thing – once opened, tung oil starts curing. the process is irreversible but can be slowed by putting the tung oil into very small bottles and filling them completely so there will be no air in the bottle. do not use tung oil that show “gelatin” on top.

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

View tbone's profile


276 posts in 3922 days

#12 posted 03-20-2010 12:01 AM

As you can see, JEMS, there are many opinions here about finishing. None of them are wrong. However, if you are finishing any kind of oak, I would NOT use steel wool. You will wonder why all of those tiny black spots that look like mold is on your furniture. It’s not mold, but it IS a reaction by the tannins in the wood to the ore in the steel wool.
Anyway, as to how many coats? The correct answer is—how much do you want to build it up? You’ll know it when you see it. But for a MINIMUM protection, I would use at least 2 coats with a paste wax on top of that.
That’s not a very durable finish for a dining room table, but it is plenty of protection for something used less than that—a hall table, for example.

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

View dannmarks's profile


774 posts in 819 days

#13 posted 12-24-2016 07:34 PM

I am glad that you mentioned about the steal wool. I love steal wool and would have used it. I can’t remember having a negative reaction to using it. But most things that I have made are gone with the various people that got the products. Wouldn’t Ash be the same as Oak?

View dannmarks's profile


774 posts in 819 days

#14 posted 12-24-2016 07:37 PM

I have used oils be it Dannish or Tung oil where when you wish to freshen up the finish at a later time, it is that easy to do. In this case it will be a BREAKFAST bar at the end of the counter. I am attaching it mechanically so that it can be taken apart and re-sanded and finished later on.

View shampeon's profile


1894 posts in 2421 days

#15 posted 12-24-2016 07:48 PM

Ash isn’t a high-tannin wood like oak. It’s the tannins that react with the iron to darken it. When you ebonize wood, you’re using a combination of tannic acid (usually naturally occurring in the wood) and iron sulfate. If you’ve ever used an acid to derust an old tool, you were essentially making iron sulfate from the rust.

But it’s probably a good idea to avoid steel wool with finishes to avoid the metal particles in the pores regardless of the finish.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

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