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why/when should I use tung oil?

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Forum topic by jrhovde posted 651 days ago 4099 views 1 time favorited 40 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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jrhovde

10 posts in 847 days


651 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: finish tung oil finishing

I’m still relatively new to woodworking and I have finished all of my projects using stain and polyurethane. I see a lot of people here use tung oil and there is a lot of good information about what tung oil is. What I really would like to know is WHY people use tung oil and on what applications is it good for. Should I use it on floors, tables, bookcases, etc. Should something go over the top of it?
Any guidance would be appreciated.
Thanks


40 replies so far

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1786 days


#1 posted 651 days ago

Oils in general work to enhance the natural beauty and contrast of the wood. They go on easy and can be replenished over time as long as they aren’t topped with some type of film finish, which is certainly an option. Nothing pops a figure quite like an oil, nor makes the wood really pretty. They are an easy alternative to stains, which are mostly just thinned paint.

If you use uninteresting wood in your projects, like pine or poplar, then you’d likely use stains (or dyes). But if you use really pretty hardwoods with awesome figure, then oils will be a big part of your gameplan.

Real tung oil (as opposed to tung oil finish) takes forever to dry, but doesn’t yellow the wood quite like other oils and it is more water resistant. It is often used on metal to prevent rust.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2944 posts in 914 days


#2 posted 651 days ago

I follow pretty much the same procedure for danish oil that I do for Tung oil. On soft woods it tends to blotch and it can also on hardwoods. I always wipe on then wipe off right away. Don’t let it dry on because it leaves a sticky residue that you have to clean off. Just a wipe is all you need. Let it dry about 4 -12 hours depending on heat and humidity and repeat if needed.

Oils like all penetrating finishes will soak deeper into the soft grain, and you may need a pre-color conditioner to keep it from blotching those area’s. I suggest a sample of whatever wood you are using as a test piece for finishes.

Oils bring out the natural beauty of the wood like no other product I’ve used.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1421 posts in 988 days


#3 posted 651 days ago

Oil poly can be manipulated to produce any effect from an oiled look to a high gloss, so learn how to use it. It’s a great finish.

-- Clint Searl.............We deserve what we tolerate

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Wildwood

990 posts in 762 days


#4 posted 651 days ago

Pure Tung oil is a drying oil, takes time to dry & cure. Matt or satin finish about all can expect, will develop a patina after several years of re-application. Pure Tung oil is easy to apply & repair. Same can be said of polymerized Tung Oil, about the same except dries faster.

Adding solvent to either pure or polymerized Tung oil increases penetration into wood and speeds up drying times.

Oil varnish blends contain oil, resin, and solvent. May or may not contain Tung oil, have to read label on can or check out material safety data sheet MSDS for list of ingredients.

Many oil varnish blends contain cheaper non-drying, semi drying oils, drying oils. Have seen products that contain real small amounts of both Linseed & Tung oils which seems silly because these oil dry differently, but does not matter because amounts so small.

http://apps.risd.edu/envirohealth_msds/MetcalfStore/WatcoDanishOilNatural.pdf

Wiping Varnish contains resin & solvent (varnish-poly). Usually no oil in a wiping varnish, so check ingredient list. Never want to buy a wiping varnish that is over 60% solvent.

Here is a Tung oil wiping varnish with 69% mineral spirits and no other ingredients listed.
http://hazard.com/msds/f2/ckc/ckctz.html

Another Tung oil wiping varnish product without any Tung oil
http://hazard.com/msds/f2/brx/brxhq.html

http://www.popularwoodworking.com/techniques/finishing/oil-finishes-their-history-and-use

When to use depends upon project and product selected, not sure any rules other than understanding end results.

-- Bill

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a1Jim

112011 posts in 2204 days


#5 posted 651 days ago

As others have said tung oil can take a long time to dry a more modern oil base finish will give the same effect,dry faster and harder.

http://www.generalfinishes.com/sites/default/files/Tech-Data-GF-Arm-R-Seal-050311.pdf

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1421 posts in 988 days


#6 posted 650 days ago

It’s pure myth that an oil will penetrate wood more if it’s thinned with a solvent. The solvent may soak in a bit, but the oil won’t go any deeper than if it weren’t thinned, and that’s only a few wood cells deep.

-- Clint Searl.............We deserve what we tolerate

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

470 posts in 1388 days


#7 posted 650 days ago

Tung oil (made from the tung nut) is interesting stuff. It is an oil, but upon exposure to air it becomes a wax over time. This is why it takes longer to “dry”. One thing to know. When you store it, make sure there is very little air in the container or over time it will turn into wax. As I use it up I usually decant (pour) it into smaller and smaller containers, usually Ball jelly jars used for canning that are obtainable from the supermarket. I have also dropped some marbles into the jar to raise the oil level close to the top of the jar.

Planeman

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1421 posts in 988 days


#8 posted 650 days ago

Planeman…I don’t know where you’re getting your information, but pure tung oil polymerizes in the presence of oxygen, forming a relatively hard film. What do you mean by wax?

Heat and chemically processed tung oil like Waterlox, which is mixed with resins, solvents, and driers, will gel in the container, but pure tung oil won’t.

-- Clint Searl.............We deserve what we tolerate

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Planeman40

470 posts in 1388 days


#9 posted 649 days ago

Well…from my use it gelled up in the can like a wax from exposure to air, which, of course, contains free oxygen. I have never looked into the chemical content. The exterior of my finish buffs up to a warm luster after a couple of weeks after the application similar to wax. If tung oil has a “relatively hard film”, is has never been apparent in my use.

My caveat is tung oil should be capped back up with as little air (oxygen) as possible or it will gel up.

Planeman

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3874 posts in 1007 days


#10 posted 649 days ago

Oil in general offers little to no protection but looks great. Usually used in combination with wax on surfaces that will receive little wear and tear… e.g. cabinets; but not tabletops.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1786 days


#11 posted 649 days ago

Not sure that I agree with that, Clint. To some extent, the solvent does work as a carrier, changing the viscosity of the oil. Thinner viscosities of anything will penetrate more deeply. This is why polymerized tung oil is mixed with a solvent, otherwise I’d be too viscous to do the job. But the question can be argued, “How much diluting is required to give more penetration?” IMO, this is the main reason that everybody has their own preference of ratios for oil-varnish blends.

But in porous woods, I think it’s obvious that there is a proper mix that best works to get deeply into the wood.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2944 posts in 914 days


#12 posted 649 days ago

Cosmic, don’t you agree though that it’s better to wipe it on and wipe it off as fast as possible. I mean it’s going to penetrate no matter what you do but leaving it on just makes it gummy on top. I usually apply a couple coats and find that it’s penetrated just fine without a buildup.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1786 days


#13 posted 649 days ago

It depends, Russell. I like the process, so I’m likely inclined to put a few applications…never more than three. Other times, I’ll just pour a bunch on, let it sit for an hour, then wipe it all off…wiping with mineral spirits to clean off any excess.

I’m convinced that the latter is more effective than the former when you want deeper penetration. I think we are too quick to wipe it off and we don’t really let the oil work…and subsequent applications become blocked by earlier coats. Depends on the wood, of course, but I find this to be the case with oak and walnut, which get the bulk of it for me. Maple as well, but that’s mostly on curly figured stuff.

Danish oil, which may or may not have varnish in it, would be applied in multiple coats.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

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Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1786 days


#14 posted 649 days ago

BTW, my philosophy with oil is to make it look good. I’m not interested in complete saturation unless I think it will improve the looks. The exception would be something like a workbench where I’d want to protect it as much as possible from moisture (that doesn’t have a film finish), or perhaps something that might stay outside, like a patio chair.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2944 posts in 914 days


#15 posted 649 days ago

Cosmic, I’m working some padouk, red oak and black walnut today for a box. I decided to try some Danish oil cherry on the oak and walnut to kind of tie it in to the padouk. All I needed was a shop rag, blue paper towel and I just wiped a little on and it’s done. Wiped it right off afterward.
I think with hardwoods you just don’t get the penetration nor do you need it often times. They take on color pretty well from oils.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

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