some finishing trouble

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Forum topic by Ben posted 10-22-2010 03:05 AM 996 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Ben's profile


372 posts in 2823 days

10-22-2010 03:05 AM

hi all.

well, i put the first coat of tung oil on my coffee table a few days ago. i did it inside because it’s cold out in my garage now.

here’s the thing: a few months ago i did a sample finish on the underside of the table top. it dried in less than a day, i think, a very nice smooth feeling to run your hand over. temps were probably in the 80s back then. it stayed that way until i assembled the whole thing maybe a week or two ago, at which point i applied finish to the entire underside. this also dried in a day or less. (it was out in the shop but the temps were warmer a few weeks ago.)

so now, having taken the table inside, i have applied the same amount of oil over everything else. the problem is it doesn’t seem to be drying or absorbing. i don’t think it could be oversaturated, but maybe it is. when i touch it, it feels very oily and leaves a smudgy fingerprint, but has no glossy look whatsoever like in the picture i posted in the projects section.

part of the problem could be that i’m not heating my house yet. it’s in the 50s during the days and 30s nights (outside), but i doubt it gets that cold inside as my upstairs tenant is running heat (which gives some residual heat coming out of the basement).

anyway. what can i do at this point? hold a blow dryer over it? buff it out with a cloth and see if it’s just oversaturated?

i was expecting to put on a few coats before it pooled on the surface, although it is Sapele and extremely dense.

for photos of the project see my thread in the “projects” section from a few days ago.

thanks a lot.

4 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4184 days

#1 posted 10-22-2010 04:02 AM

It could be a temperature issue…. I’m not sure. I would try to buff off as much as will come off, then let it sit for a few days and see what happens.

Also, I’m wondering….. is the top sanded to a much higher grit than the underside? In a dense wood like this, it could be that you have basically closed the pores, preventing the oil from soaking in.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View wisno's profile


88 posts in 2977 days

#2 posted 10-22-2010 06:04 AM

Did you do the same process for you raw woods? The difference in sanding could affect the chemical absorption.
It also can be resulted from the oil. Did you check the oil you use?
Your oil for the top table may too thick since it already exposed for awhile.
Wait for next few day, if the oil is dry then it is okay.
But if the oil is seem that won,t dry. You need to remove your oil and start refinish it with the right process.

Good luck



View BTKS's profile


1986 posts in 3430 days

#3 posted 10-22-2010 04:20 PM

I don’t know how thick the table top is. One factor of many could be the bottom dried from both sides, into and through the wood pores. The top can only evaporate out into the air because the bottom is now, for the most part, sealed. I’m sure the temp and humidity have a greater influence. Finishing is not my strong suite and it’s issues like yours that make it a mystery to me!
I’ve used multiple layers of tung oil in the past and never had as long a drying time as your describing.
Good luck, BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3110 days

#4 posted 10-22-2010 04:56 PM

1. Temp – pure Tung oil is affected by the temperatures below 70 degrees
2. Air flow – put a fan by the table on the lowest setting to keep moving air around
3. Alway start Tung Oil with a polymerizing agent; mineral oil is the easiest. Three to five coats at 25% strength, three to five at 50% and three to five at 100% strength
4. Normal drying time for Tung Oil below 70 degrees is 3 days per coat. Curing (Smell related) will take another several weeks
5. Apply, wait about an hour then wipe with a clean rag
6. Surface will be dull once dried if you’re using pure Tung oil. The easiest and most compatable top finish is finishing wax buffed to the sheen you want. It isn’t durable, but it is very easy to reapply.

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