Suggestion for finish for bookmatched spalted Pecan table top

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Forum topic by SawDustnSplinters posted 01-08-2009 11:15 PM 12788 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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321 posts in 4020 days

01-08-2009 11:15 PM

Spalted Pecan Table Top

I need some help from my fellow wood workers…. I have a tabletop made with bookmatched spalted pecan inlayed with turquoise. Normally I use poly on darker woods and on table tops in general. But I have always used tung oil with spalted pecan because it brings out the natural color and does not amber the spalting as poly does. Can I use tung oil as a base and then put poly on top of that so there will be no ambering? But I have not made a spalted pecan tabletop before so that is why I need help. I would hate to ruin it’s potential with the wrong finish.

-- Frank, Dallas,TX , , “I have a REALLY BIG chainsaw”

8 replies so far

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 3674 days

#1 posted 01-08-2009 11:33 PM

I do not think it a good idea to mix oils and poly coating because of the bonding problems… although in theory you could, because oild as long as it is a drying oil and i believe Tung oil is, the oil would dry (the oil molecules bond with the oxygen (I would have to check that out in a book this is off the top of my head) and forms a “natural” sort of Poly (after all polyeurathan and oils are all hydrocarbons) layer (Microns-thin) and if that were totally dry perhaps it would work

But that is just a fancy, I am not certian it would work… 2 options then you could 1) try out a test piece or 2) and this is what i would do, use a colorless oil with a hardwax mixed into it…. they do not yellow TOO bad and the hard wax that is mixed in can be buffed out to a beautiful satin finish

In anycase is a test piece the best answer to finding out one way or the other

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View TexPenn's profile


459 posts in 3926 days

#2 posted 01-08-2009 11:46 PM

I have done it & it bonded ok But havnt seen the piece after years of aging. It may have yellowed. PS i’ll be in fbg feb 10 – 18th. Ted.

-- Ted, TX or PA

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4060 days

#3 posted 01-09-2009 12:44 AM

The amber color that oil based poly takes on as a characteristic of aging will occur irrespective of the base coat that it covers. So to answer your concern, if you do not want an amber color to develop, then that rules out using oil base poly. It will bond over tung oil as poly works by mechanical adhesion. All you would need to do, once the tung oil is cured, is to scuff sand it and apply poly over it.

If you want to avoid the amberizing you could use a water base poly which will remain clear. But most woodworkers agree that, while its formulation closely emulates the depth of oil base poly, it still has not achieved the look and depth of oil based poly products.

With regards to the tung oil (if I remember right and I do not at times), if it is a pure tung oil product (the label will state that it is 100% tung oil) it is not recommended for building a protective finish since it is a relatively soft topcoat. But most tung oil products sold on the market are simply wiping varnishes with tung oil added to them. These will harden and can be used to “build” a finish.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 3975 days

#4 posted 01-09-2009 12:55 AM

Make sure you coat the bottom with the same amounts of finish as the top. It will reduce the possible cupping or twisting of the top.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View SawDustnSplinters's profile


321 posts in 4020 days

#5 posted 01-09-2009 03:25 AM

Thank you for the great input guys, Scott…I think I will go with the Tung Oil as I already know how that will turn out visually, which will be stunning and it builds it’s strength from the inside out so to speak. I will just apply many, many coats over time, buff them out…. The top itself seems very tight-grained almost as hard as Teak, the whole top would make a great cutting board… especially the heartwood sections, took me forever to sand out the slight mill marks…The way I look at it, it is a fine table top so everyone should have coasters and placemats… :) My Mother who is from England has a nice dining table of burled veneer, and I can not remember any one daring to place a glass without a coaster, she would probably draw and quarter them on the spot verbally at least….

John…I will be sure to do the underside as well, as this a sweet wood that tends to curl and cup a lot after planing….alot like Hickory (same family)

Also Thanx Walds …I will keep that in mind for future projects…

Tex, I am not due to be down there till the weekend after, third weekend of every month…but I might go down and work on my booth and trim it out in cedar a few days early with my brother….let you know…

God Bless and Ya’ll Be Well

-- Frank, Dallas,TX , , “I have a REALLY BIG chainsaw”

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4060 days

#6 posted 01-09-2009 02:24 PM

It should be a nice finish and I am sure the table will be gorgeous. I really like the look, coloration and graining of it now so I can only imagine what it will look like with a topcoat on it. I am looking forward to seeing this one posted in the projects section.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View SawDustnSplinters's profile


321 posts in 4020 days

#7 posted 01-10-2009 10:32 PM

Well I went with the tung oil guys and I like it, at first I was a little worried because the oil glossed up on the heartwood sections but I waited about ten minutes and buffed it out with a cloth. I used a tung oil that is blended with other oils and will harden to build a finish. Market variety :) This has been drying about 12 hours and I will apply the second coat this afternoon, but I think it will turn out well. Thanx for the input.First coat of Tung oil
Even the inlay really pops and the nuggets seem to be suspended..I had to patch some worm holes and I chose this method instead of just plain black epoxy.

-- Frank, Dallas,TX , , “I have a REALLY BIG chainsaw”

View BarryW's profile


1015 posts in 4145 days

#8 posted 01-10-2009 10:46 PM

yup, the tung oil…beautiful…

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.

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