TUNG vs linseed vs danish oil for barn beam

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Forum topic by pos1 posted 12-27-2016 05:14 PM 2142 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1308 days

12-27-2016 05:14 PM

I have an old barn beam I plan to install as our gas fireplace mantel. All I’ve done is wash it with soap and water. I do not plan to sand it. It’s in a state where I just plan to “finish” it. It’s currently a gray color, but still drying inside. We’d like it to be a warm wood tone in the end. We have a lot of oak in the house already. I don’t know what type of wood the barn beam is (I am in Minnesota if that helps). It has a single square nail still in it if that helps age it.

It’s 8’ long and I only need 4’, so I have some to experiment with.

I’d rather not stain it if I can bring out the natural wood color.

I’ve read online where people just use Tung oil.

What’s the difference between tung, danish and linseed oil? What’s the best application for this?

4 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5094 posts in 2638 days

#1 posted 12-27-2016 06:03 PM

The names of finishes can get confusing due to the inaccurate marketing of products under the wrong moniker. True tung oil is an oil made form the nut of a tung tree. It can be used as a finish, though in it’s raw state is very slow to dry. Linseed oil is also called flaxseed oil since it’s squeezed from the seeds of a flax plant. But most finishes on the market called “tung oil” don’t have a drop of tung oil in them, and in many cases are simply a very thin varnish. Danish oil is generally a mixture of varnish, MS, and linseed oil…though tung oil could also be used in it. But here again, some of the danish oils on the market (including the best popular one) are little more than a very thin varnish. So those are the differences (here's more info if you want), but I have no suggestion as to what to use on your mantle. I might be inclined to do nothing.

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

View Kelly's profile


2092 posts in 3089 days

#2 posted 12-27-2016 06:55 PM

Fred is dead on regarding the scamming of companies promoting their finishes as tung oil. Unless it says “100%” or “pure,” it’s linseed oil.

Linseed oil has heavy metals added to speed hardening.

Of the ones you mentioned, I like the “finish,” because it’s just highly thinned poly, so will be far more durable. Of course, why not just buy regular and thin it, if that’s the route you’re going.

My experience with barn and drift wood is, applying any oil base finish will change it from a gray, weathered look to golds and reds that are beautiful.

View canadianchips's profile


2606 posts in 3141 days

#3 posted 12-28-2016 12:57 AM

Do you want to keep the grey weathered look or do you want it a color that brings out the grain ?
If you want the OLD board Look and feel, use “vinegar – steel wool mix” works very well. Takes a week to make it !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View CL810's profile


3844 posts in 3132 days

#4 posted 12-28-2016 02:10 AM

If you test some oils let them cure for at least 3 days before you decide. Some wood-oil combinations take a while.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

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