How to remove splotching caused by Tung oil

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Forum topic by pauls posted 03-19-2010 10:20 PM 1741 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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30 posts in 3439 days

03-19-2010 10:20 PM

This is my first time using the Lumberjocks network. I am fairly new at woodworking and I recently made a counter top using narrow strips of 4 types of woods, Jatoba, Walnut, Birch, and Cherry. I used 15 strips and each are about 3/4 inch thick by about 1.5” wide and about 5 feet long and they are all glued up and glued down to the old counter top. It looked really great until I finished it using Tung oil diluted 50% with mineral spirits. I just learned the hard way about splotching, especially in the cherry and birch. I had used tung oil in the past on some smaller projects, a desk top organizer and some small boxes and did I not have problem with splotching but this time it turned out messy. Such is life..

At this point I have completely sanded off the tung oil finish and it loooks much better but I am still left with quite a bit of splotching in the cherry and birch.

Does anyone know how to get rid of the splotching??? I thought about using some lacquer/shellac remover but, having already leared a hard lesson, I am cautious doing anything more until I get some good advice.

Added note: I also just purchased the book on Finishing by Jeff Jewitt and I am now learning how to do it right..after the fact…but sometime that is what learning is about.


-- PS. "Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they're yours." R. Bach

3 replies so far

View tbone's profile


275 posts in 3647 days

#1 posted 03-19-2010 11:30 PM

First of all, the tung oil did not cause the splotching. In some woods—birch and cherry are good examples—the fibers and grains of the wood do not lie consistently in the same direction. As a result, the oil or stain is not absorbed into the wood at a consistent rate. Jeff’s book will probably explain to you that you need to pre-treat the wood with a ‘wash coat’ or ‘sanding sealer’ This makes the wood fibers stand up straight so that when you apply oil or stain to the wood, it is absorbed consistently, resulting in less blotchiness.
It’s worth it to try to recreate that blotchy look on a SCRAP piece, and then try to repair it with lacquer thinner or mineral spirits.
Good luck.

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

View pauls's profile


30 posts in 3439 days

#2 posted 03-20-2010 04:03 PM

Thanks tbone. I now know the source of the problem and how to prevent it it the future. I will do as you suggest to try to remove the splotches and let you know how it goes. If I can’t the splotches removed I will look at maybe doing a gel stain to blend them in and then do a final finish but I will check out the related sections in Jeff’s book and run TESTS on my SCRAP cuts to prevent any more… in the words of Homer Sipmson….doh’s.

Pauls in Santa Cruz

-- PS. "Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they're yours." R. Bach

View pauls's profile


30 posts in 3439 days

#3 posted 04-04-2010 07:32 PM

Tbone. Thanks for your help. My project is done and it looks much better!

-- PS. "Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they're yours." R. Bach

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