Tung Oil Finish problem

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Forum topic by jim1942 posted 02-14-2009 07:01 PM 2718 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 3356 days

02-14-2009 07:01 PM

I am refinishing a buffet top. It’s 20” x 60” wood species unsure but appears to be medium to soft.
Sanded to 220 grit very smooth. Stained Mmedium mahogany, three coats of tung oil 24 hours apart hand buffed each coat. Two coats of Johnson’s pastye wax.
Problem: Cannot get a gloss / shiny coat. about the same as it was when I had just stained it.Need suggestions.

-- jim1942

10 replies so far

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4095 days

#1 posted 02-14-2009 08:17 PM

Which brand of finishing products are you using?

-- 温故知新

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 3680 days

#2 posted 02-14-2009 08:32 PM

Yes, first question would be what brand oil..I like general finishes. But it’s probably that wax. I recently did a little sample board on some nice walnut, and three coats of arm-r-seal made it shine like crazy, beautiful! Then when I hit it with a little wax, it dulled the extreme gloss the wiping varnish gave me. It was still nice, still more gloss than when I had started, but it wasn’t anyplace near the great shine without the wax.

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4023 posts in 4032 days

#3 posted 02-14-2009 09:42 PM

Might try wiping the wax off with a rag moistened with mineral spirits and putting on a poly or alykd varnish that has more resin solids than straight or thinned tung oil. You might get better moisture and heat protection as well. Behlens Rockhard, Waterlox original, Pratt and Lambert #38 Alykd and a host of waterborne products come to mind.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3361 days

#4 posted 02-14-2009 10:15 PM

For sure there are issues between the stain and the tung oil. Tung oil at normal temperatures dry fast, and its easy to polish the final wax coat. I use MYLANDS wax polish and I have use Butcher’s with excellent results in both cases.

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Scott Michael's profile

Scott Michael

68 posts in 3364 days

#5 posted 02-14-2009 11:40 PM

I found that one has to apply many coats to get a decent gloss. I ended up waiting a few days until my last coat cured completely and then went over the top w/0000 steel wool. Then, I applied a copy of coats of gloss polyurethane…....results were excellent and with better resistance to wear and water.

-- scmichael

View jim1942's profile


11 posts in 3356 days

#6 posted 02-15-2009 01:54 AM

Thanks to all.
The brand of stain and tung oil was minwax

-- jim1942

View Tim Pursell's profile

Tim Pursell

499 posts in 3750 days

#7 posted 02-15-2009 02:16 AM

I’ve found that tung oil finishes need to FULLY cure before you use a paste wax on them. I ruined a few projects before I read that the solvents used in the wax can and will eat into uncured finishes. Tung oil should set at least 72 hours ( in ideal warm not too damp shop) to fully cure. Also the get a high gloss from any paste wax you need several to many coats to really shine. A buffer will bring up the shine much more than you could get by hand polishing——unless you really like rubbing out the wax!


View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4095 days

#8 posted 02-15-2009 02:17 AM


Miniwax doesn’t sell tung oil.

They sell a product called “Tung Oil Finish”, which contains only a tiny amount of tung oil that has been chemically modified.
It is actually an oil-modified varnish that is highly diluted with mineral spirits, aka a wiping varnish.

Note: There are currently no regulations in the USA for finishing products called “Tung Oil Finish”.
They aren’t even required to contain tung oil and they even other oils such as soy and linseed.

Now—How to solve your problem.

One way is to strip off the wax with solvent and elbow grease, then start over.
You may even have to sand and re-stain.
Consider sealing the dried stain with dewaxed shellac sealer, such as Zinnser SealCoat.
Note: Use the stain exactly as instructed and make sure it is dry before you go to the next step.

For a top finish, consider any good varnish or polyurethane, including the Miniwax product with adequate coats to build a nice finish. Again, follow the instructions.

Finally, it is always best to experiment on a piece of the actual wood you will be using.
You can even test your materials and techniques on a hidden side of the project, such as under a table top.

-- 温故知新

View CaptnA's profile


116 posts in 3781 days

#9 posted 02-15-2009 03:25 AM

If you have any scrap and since you aren’t sure of the species I’d try wiping the wood with denatured alcohol and when dried well retry your finish. I had a similar issue once and the DNA helped.
Lots of good ideas here to try.
One of the more common errors in finishing is rushing. If the layer/step/coat isn’t dry you can’t move on. Time won’t dry finish but finish takes time to dry. Time to dry often varies with temp and humidity greatly.

-- CaptnA - "When someone hurts you, write it in the sand so the winds of forgiveness will scatter the memory... "

View jim1942's profile


11 posts in 3356 days

#10 posted 02-16-2009 09:04 PM

Again Thanks to all.
Randy, you’re right. Went back out to shop and checked. It is “Tung Oil Finish”.
It will be a few days before I can get back to work on it again,so I’ll try to fix it and let you know the results.

-- jim1942

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