Tung oil OK for a tabletop?

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Forum topic by stcin posted 03-09-2011 02:08 PM 6245 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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29 posts in 2654 days

03-09-2011 02:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question oak finishing

I have built a new top for a vintage library table and it’s time to apply a finish. I’m leaning toward tung oil if for no other reason, than I like the way it makes the shop and the house (once the table is moved in) smell. However, this table will be used in our library and have books and beverages on it most of the time. Any thoughts about the finish? I’m not sure if the tung oil will be hard enough or stay soft and stick the books down if they are left there for a few days.
Thanks for your input guys

8 replies so far

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4091 days

#1 posted 03-09-2011 02:16 PM

Which brand?

-- 温故知新

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3708 days

#2 posted 03-09-2011 02:24 PM

Make sure you use a tung oil that is 100% pure tung oil, which obviously you must be doing, since you like the smell. You’re not a varnish sniffer, are you? The finish won’t be water proof, but it will be resistant. Take your time and apply several coats, with a couple of days between coats, so each one dries properly. It’s best if you renew with a coat once a year. It will give you a nice satin finish that’s easily repairable.

View CampD's profile


1653 posts in 3450 days

#3 posted 03-09-2011 02:37 PM

I 2nd adding another coat to the top every year

-- Doug...

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3038 days

#4 posted 03-09-2011 03:25 PM

Tung oil is great for a first coat. It will penetrate into the wood and provide an excellent sealer. However, it is not the most durable. I often use one coat of tung oil (Waterlox) followed by several coats of polyurethane.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4091 days

#5 posted 03-09-2011 04:10 PM

Note: Original Waterlox is “tung oil varnish”, not tung oil. It contains tung oil and other ingredients.
More specifically, it’s a Tung Oil Phenolic Resin Varnish.

Any product labeled as “Tung Oil Finish” or “Tung Oil Varnish” is not tung oil. It contains tung oil.
Comparing a product that has tung oil as an ingredient to 100% tung oil is at best confusing.
All have their place and each have their benefits, but without identifying the actual products, you can’t compare them.

Likewise, chicken soup contains chicken. It is not chicken.
Would you go to a restaurant where the menu only read: Chicken. Beef, Pork, Vegetables?

-- 温故知新

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2878 days

#6 posted 03-09-2011 04:16 PM

Hey Hobomonk and Rich,
I am just now finishing up with my workbench and coated the working surface with 6-coats of Minwax Tung Oil Finish that I understand (from an LJs overload of the search function) that this is Tung PLUS Varnishes much like the Waterlox that Rich mentions.

From the Waterlox site:
While Waterlox Original Tung oil finishes contain a superior drying oil, namely Tung Oil, they are fully cooked varnishes, which dry quicker and form permanent films tough enough to walk on and take daily abuse.

I plan on final coating the working top with Johnson’s Paste Wax. Will this be adequate for my purposes? Anything to be aware of? After the fact, would I have been better off finishing the working top differently (this is my first major project)?

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 3398 days

#7 posted 03-09-2011 04:32 PM

Looks like that’s going to be a great work bench Mike. When will it make it’s debut?

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2878 days

#8 posted 03-09-2011 09:47 PM

I think I may need one more coat on the lower rails (3-coats thus far), but other than that I will let things cure and do a final reassembly. Hopefully I’ll have pics next week or so. I am looking forward to it. This all assumes I do not need to change anything about the benchtop’s working surface.

It’s about time to finally wrap this workbench project up… Falling off that extension ladder last Labor Day and having 23 fractures of ribs and backbone vertebrae did me no favors, I can tell you that. It took me over 3-months just to start trying to work in the shop, and then I couldn’t lift crap and my range of movement was minimal. Get ‘er done took on new meaning…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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