Am I rubbing Tung Oil too hard?

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Forum topic by MikeB posted 03-20-2012 03:05 PM 2166 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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46 posts in 4086 days

03-20-2012 03:05 PM

I’m finally finishing a nightstand I built years ago (the finishing part seems to take forever for me), and need advice on proper technique for a hand-rubbed tung oil finish.

I am on my 4th or 5th coat and am wondering if I am doing this right. I’ve been steel-wooling between coats and tend to rub the hazy layer to a sheen, thinking this is how it should be done. Then I do some research and saw some reference to Charles Niel’s DVDs/videos. This made me wonder if I really needed to rub to the sheen (I’d call it satin, not glossy, where I can see hazy light reflection, not mirror), or do should I just be satisfied to knock-down the finish for the next coat?

Also, anyone have tips on rubbing out tight/intricate areas? I half thought about attached steel wool to my Fein multi-tool.

Your advice is apopreciated.


-- MikeB, Aurora, Oregon

4 replies so far

View cblak's profile


26 posts in 2260 days

#1 posted 03-20-2012 09:56 PM

I typically use tung-oil for a sealer coat. I would recommend applying a few coats of wipe-on poly. If you already have 5 coats of oil the wood is sealed and should only require 1 or 2 coats of poly. If you use a satin finish it will still give you the hand-rubbed look you desire (or is it gloss you after?). Anyhow, they sell high gloss as well. Make sure the oil has had a chance to dry entirely. If your using 100% tung oil, i would let it sit for a few days . I dont know if I would try the Fein. Power equipment scares me when it comes to finishing. You shouldn’t have to do much rubbing out if you use the poly. i would just crumple up some 320 sandpaper (almost to the point that it feels like fabric) and use that between coats. It Really does work!

-- Ten seconds of patience, Ten years of peace.

View TechRedneck's profile


768 posts in 2855 days

#2 posted 03-20-2012 11:14 PM

I use tung oil on many projects. I let the first coat dry two days, hit it very lightly (feather light) with 220 or better to remove any nibs or specs and apply another coat. Give another day or so and repeat. Final coat no sanding

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

View MikeB's profile


46 posts in 4086 days

#3 posted 03-21-2012 04:46 PM

good input, thanks!

-- MikeB, Aurora, Oregon

View Bertha's profile


13528 posts in 2691 days

#4 posted 03-21-2012 04:58 PM

I don’t know, are you blind yet? Couldn’t resist:) I love using tung oil and just like you, I’ve scoured through the previous coat before. I tend to use multiple very thin coats and very lightly scuff between coats. I’m talking VERY lightly. It’s really slow to build but it’s worth the effort. ^Hey Tech, what’s going on? ;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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