BLO Vs. Tung Oil

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Forum topic by GlennsGrandson posted 06-19-2012 02:49 AM 5896 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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443 posts in 2549 days

06-19-2012 02:49 AM

Topic tags/keywords: blo tung oil finishing

Learning more about finishing every day LJ’s. I am just going to start experimenting with BLO and began to think, why not Tung oil? In fact…what is the difference? Any input on the Pros and Cons of both and what to use to finish over them will be much appreciated

From what I understand, I should at least use oil on oil (e.g. BLO and then oil poly)

Apologies if there is already a Vs type forum for this but I have not found it. Thanks again.

-- Grant - N Dakota

13 replies so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2930 days

#1 posted 06-19-2012 03:25 AM

Many of the ‘tung oil’ finishes are actually a mix of oil and poly. Antique Oil finish is BLO and poly mixture. I have used shellac over BLO with good results but I’ve about decided the BlO doesn’t really add anything to the look or feel in this situation. On really hard wood like Jatoba I often use 3 coats of BLO followed with wax. This gives a very touchable finish that is easily repaired by applying another coat of BLO and then wax.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Fuzzy's profile


298 posts in 4228 days

#2 posted 06-19-2012 03:56 AM

Kinda like would you rather step in dog poop or cat poop ???

Both are notoriously slow to dry … offer very little protection if/when they do …

I use BLO where I find it works best … on the handles of shovels/axes/wheelbarrows.

It is actually a bit of a misnomer to even call it a “finish”, unless you REALLY expand your definition of the word FINISH. It is more of a colorant, and not even a real good one at that, considering the dangers from spontaneous combustion. There are safer, more predictable ways to color a project.

-- - dabbling in sarcasm is foolish … if you’re not proficient at it, you end up looking stupid … ... ...

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3887 days

#3 posted 06-19-2012 05:54 AM

Read James Krenov’s books. He used oil a lot in his fine
furniture pieces. They are art. The oil can be used to
get a very intimate feeling to the wood and when you
run our hand over and oil finished piece you feel the wood
grain. It’s pretty cool but if protection from hard use
is your criteria oil is dubiously appropriate.

Tung builds faster and makes a tougher film in my experience.
BLO just soaks in… and soaks in… and soaks in. I’ve made
some great smelling topcoats from 1/3 BLO, 1/3 beeswax
and 1/3 mineral spirits, more or less. I think I picked up the
recipe from a Garret Hack article but Sam Malloof used something
similar. You can mix either tung or BLO with varnish for
a faster build and “grain pop” combination.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2930 days

#4 posted 06-20-2012 01:17 AM

Anyone want to see pics of my recycled doug fir office floor we did with BLO 3 years ago? I was skeptical but it still looks good! I don’t understand why there are so many BLO haters out there. In the right situation is works well and is easy and inexpensive.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4458 days

#5 posted 06-20-2012 01:25 AM

Andy, I’m with you. I use BLO a lot on my boxes. Sometimes I add poly on top for protection, other times I just buff after letting dry for a day or two. I get plenty of compliments on my finishes. I just don’t see the negatives people talk about.

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

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2915 days

#6 posted 06-20-2012 03:09 AM

Oil is good but don’t get in a hurry. In our drive thru/microwave world today ot just doesn’t fit in. It has its place and that place isn’t in the trash. It was used for years on fine gun stocks.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2428 days

#7 posted 06-20-2012 03:17 AM

Bob Flexner has a really good book out on wood finishing.

As for tung oil, I think it is a lot more than just a colorant. But I use 100 % tung oil, not one of the many products out there that is tung oil cut with something else. Best to read the label.

The Lee Valley website has some good info on tung oil and other finishes too.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Woodknack's profile


12468 posts in 2620 days

#8 posted 06-20-2012 05:34 AM

I have never used tung oil, mostly because I haven’t found 100% at any local supplier and I don’t see the point in using fake (varnish mixes that may or may not actually contain tung) oil. I have used a good bit of BLO but less as the years go by. It is attractive but somewhat yellowing. Mostly I use it as a thin base coat because I read once that it accelerates patination.

-- Rick M,

View GlennsGrandson's profile


443 posts in 2549 days

#9 posted 06-20-2012 05:40 AM

Thanks for all the expertise LJ’s. I think I’ll give the BLO thing a fair try, with regards to what my final product is being used for (i.e., decorative vs. heavy use). So I think I may try a couple layers of BLO and then after a good curing some poly on top for protection. I’ve also read about 1:1:1 BLO:MS:Poly, I think I’d like to give that a go too, in that case, can I use Naptha instead of MS to increase drying time?

Tung oil will be on my list for the next trip to the store. I may do a comparison blog with lots of pictures on that since us new woodworkers could use some examples and direction.

Loren I saw some beeswax at a local farmers market recently and man it smelt great. What is the point of the wax though? compared to a poly I suppose. This is an interesting idea, I may experiment with that too. And as Monte and you both suggested reading some books, I will look into them.

Wormil What about this yellowing thing, how bad is it? I’m guessing other BLO users have seen this too???

Thanks again everyone,

-- Grant - N Dakota

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2601 days

#10 posted 06-20-2012 06:41 AM

See my blog on Finishes

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2930 days

#11 posted 06-21-2012 12:44 AM

Grant- Spar Urethane is basically poly/oil mix. Add mineral spirits and it makes an easy wipe on finish.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View GlennsGrandson's profile


443 posts in 2549 days

#12 posted 06-21-2012 10:12 PM

Thanks everybody, good blog Clint.

I’ll guess from all the different opinions I’ll just have to gain my own opinion!

-- Grant - N Dakota

View ITnerd's profile


263 posts in 2839 days

#13 posted 06-21-2012 10:25 PM

George Utley has a great quote about BLO, and it echos the above: “Apply once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, and once a year for the rest of your life”. A solid performer to be sure, but not for the quick project.

I will say that I’ve been following this advise on a persimmons plane hammer I made, and it does look better with each month.

Good luck experimenting Grant,

-- Chris @ Atlanta - JGM - Occam's razor tells us that when you hear hoofs, think horses not zebras.

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