Mixing Oil Finishes?

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Forum topic by KnickKnack posted 10-12-2010 12:15 PM 1649 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1089 posts in 3565 days

10-12-2010 12:15 PM

Hopefully this isn’t too strange a question, but I’ve never seen it covered.

There’s a great choice of oils for finishing – eg, linseed, tung, teak etc etc

And they all have different effects on the grain presentation, and the final “touchy feely” of the finish, depending, obviously, on the wood in question.

My question is – is it OK to apply the first (or more) coat with one oil (eg tung) in order to get the desired visual finish on the wood, and to then continue with a different oil (eg linseed) in order to get the desired tactile finish on the wood?

Thanks in advance

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4 replies so far

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Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3820 days

#1 posted 10-12-2010 12:43 PM

There should not be any problem with mixing oil finishes as you are describing. But I would suggest that you look at a couple of issues. One is that I would take a look at the materia safety data sheet for the products that you want to use in your finishing routine. You may be wanting to combine oils that are formulated with similar ingredients, which would just be a waste of time and money in my opinion. For example Watco danish oil, while it does have a varnish component, also is formulated with raw linseed oil and mineral spirits. To combine this with boiled linseed oil would be somewhat counterproductive.

The other issue is applying an oil finish, such as blo, after adding a varnish finish would not accomplish anything since the wood would be sealed by the varnish and not allow the oil to penetrate.

But, if you want to go in this direction, why not just formulate the oils into your own finish? For example Sam Maloof finishes are equal pasrts of tung oil, boiled linseed oil and polyurethane. This requires only a 1 step finishing process rather than multiple applications.

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1381 posts in 4126 days

#2 posted 10-12-2010 12:57 PM

Are you asking about 100% Tung Oil and 100% Linseed Oil?

By the way, there is no such ingredient as “teak oil.”

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1506 posts in 3463 days

#3 posted 10-12-2010 02:02 PM

Scott brings up a good point about the linseed oil. if you try to put straight linseed oil on top of another finish that it can’t penetrate (which as far as i know is anything other than an earlier coat of linseed oil) then it will just sit there and be tacky – not what you want.

however, if you incorporate linseed into a varnish mixture (like the sam maloof finish) then that’s another story. I suggest trying out that method – when you do it yourself you can customize the mixture however you want it. those wiping oil-varnish blends are very forgiving in terms of technique and leave a very nice surface.

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3142 days

#4 posted 10-12-2010 05:25 PM

Because of adhesion issues with non-polymerized Tung Oil (100% Pure) you are primarily restricted to varnish, urethene or wax for the topcoat, especially if you’re looking for a smooth tactile experience. Laquers and Shellac don’t bond extremely well. There was a great article It’s biggest disadvantage is drying time. Average time to cure pure tung oil is 3 days, with a noticable smell for up to three weeks. You’ll also want to build up coats to establish a smooth surface, normally more than three unaltered over two diluted.

BLO is polymerized so the cure time is significantly lower. It does have the disadvantage of “yellowing” over time, though most people consider this part of the patina. It can also be built up to provide a smoother surface, but wax, varnish, laquer or urethene also provides a great topcoat.

I can’t agree more that AaronK is on the right path with a varnish mixture, in fact most of the “Tung Oil Finish” are exactly that; a varnish pre-mixed with BLO or Tung Oil. They’re fast drying and easy to build up finishes that also function as a top coat. Danish oil is a perfect example and Watco’s is reasonable and great out of the can.

I think the questions you’re asking are great, traditional oil finishes have all but dissapeared from production woodworking. There are lots of great articles written on this subject, most of them dating back to the 70’s and 80’s, and most of the good finishing books include at least a chapter on them. Whether a version of the Maloof finish or Oil/Wax both finishing styles are A-ok in my book

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