Better than your average Tung Oil by miles...

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Review by mckenziedrums posted 01-12-2010 12:59 AM 27373 views 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Better than your average Tung Oil by miles... No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I was surprised I didn’t see a review for this one…

In the world of drum building (and probably most woodworking in general) tung oil is the gateway drug to finishing. It’s pretty much impossible to screw up and while it takes forever to apply in amounts that actually build up, you end up with a fantastic finish.

Myself… well I’m a little impatient when it comes to finishing. When I do use an oil finish I want it to build quickly, fumes be darned. Waterlox is the best of the modified tung oils I’ve tried. The original finish is good for just your average finishing job but they make a high gloss version and even a marine version. It’s not cheap… I think the original or gloss runs around $26/qt and the marine is up around $34… but you can’t beat it in hardness, build, or quality. I refinished an outdoor table with the marine grade stuff and it’s been sitting exposed to sun and a LOT of rain and remains in really good shape. You can get a noticeable build with just a single coat of the sealer and 2-3 coats of marine grade versus 10+ coats with some oils.

Finishing tip: I will usually go with one coat of oil, followed by a coat of Zinnser Sealcoat, and then top coat that with my high gloss waterborne finishes. Though the times I have used just Waterlox I’ve been very happy with the results.

Just a note… You’re not going to use this stuff inside. There’s a pretty high VOC count but it does dry pretty quickly so you don’t get too much of a lingering smell. The high resin count gives you probably one of the toughest “oil” finishes out there.

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121 posts in 3864 days

14 comments so far

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jim C

1472 posts in 3905 days

#1 posted 01-12-2010 02:06 AM

Thanks for the tip. I just started using tung oil and love the appearance of it. I will try it when I open the garage next spring. Now I’m just trying to keep warm.
What’s a good source ?

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4541 posts in 3881 days

#2 posted 01-12-2010 02:07 AM

My default finishing strategy is one coat of waterlox followed by 4 – 5 coats of Minwax hand rubbed polyurethane (which I brush on with a foam brush). There are several situations where I deviate from my default but I will not go into that here.

I think the base coat of waterlox really brings out the beauty and penetrates and protects well.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View mckenziedrums's profile


121 posts in 3864 days

#3 posted 01-12-2010 02:10 AM

Exactly Rich… I use it under my water based stuff all the time. It gets a touch darker once I put the shellac on top of it but not much.

Jim: I have yet to find a source that’s terrible economical… Woodcraft keeps it in stock around here though so I typically just run by there and grab it. It keeps decently well sealed up but don’t expect an open qt to last more than a couple months. I’ve not tried using Bloxygen but that could help from what I’ve heard.

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3680 posts in 4528 days

#4 posted 01-12-2010 09:40 PM

They have a lower VOC formula but you need to look for it.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 4797 days

#5 posted 01-15-2010 06:28 AM

I have used Waterlox products a number of times to finish lathe Projects and other items. I have always had great success with both the Original and High Gloss.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View CharlesNeil's profile


2501 posts in 4677 days

#6 posted 01-16-2010 10:54 PM

you would be hard pressed to find a better product than Waterlox, I use it all the time ,as stated here under water based topcoats as well as solvent , it dries fast has all the right resins and just isnt broke, of course it hasnt been for about 100 years , family business and made in the good old USA.. nuff said

I have it on some of my floors.. works great and as simple as it gets

View happy_budah's profile


138 posts in 4605 days

#7 posted 11-06-2010 11:28 PM

i am trying it on my latest projetc, another jewlry box. how would you compare it to BLO or WATCO finishes? and how many coats do you need?

-- the journy of a thousand miles begins with a single step " Lou-Tzu"

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3980 days

#8 posted 11-06-2010 11:33 PM

And I currently have my third coat of it drying on MY current project.

First time using it. So far … I agree with everything you said.

I’m headed for four coats, and then will see if it needs anything else.

But it really does get universally rave reviews, and … if Charles Neil likes it … well … that’s about all I needed to know :-)

-- -- Neil

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32122 posts in 3673 days

#9 posted 11-06-2010 11:40 PM

Well, I don’t know a whole lot about finishing but what you say sure makes me want to give it a try. Thanks

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View mckenziedrums's profile


121 posts in 3864 days

#10 posted 11-06-2010 11:49 PM

There is no right number of coats in finishing… It’s about achieving the look you want, period. I think it’s definitely superior to the BLO product in regards to being a durable high resin finish and I’d wager it’s a little better than Watco but I’m guessing as I have only limited experience with Watco. (Mostly with their exterior stuff…)

It always amazes me how people neglect finishes on such beautiful wood work! Spend some time learning how to finish off the beautiful pieces of art you make and you won’t regret it.

View happy_budah's profile


138 posts in 4605 days

#11 posted 11-07-2010 06:11 AM

i read that somewhere that it resists water marks better than tung oil or watco???? so far it looks verry similar to the watco danish oil. i was thinking of making my own blend with BLO laquer and thinner and though that id try this first

-- the journy of a thousand miles begins with a single step " Lou-Tzu"

View AEi's profile


2 posts in 3346 days

#12 posted 06-13-2011 07:16 PM

Question – I used waterlox to finish a maple butcherblock counter top. Stained the countertop first, wanted it a bit darker. Then applied the basic waterlox, then the matte finish version of waterlox (according to their directions). I can’t remember exact coats, but was 3 or 4 I think. I am extremely unhappy with it. Was ok at first, but finish has not held up. The countertop is sticky feeling, and appears the finish is wearing off. This is my island, and we use it a lot – so big problem. I will have to re-do, but any ideas what went wrong? I am very hesitant about using this product again, if I will have to re-coat it every year. Counters take a fair amount of abuse, and besides the sticky feeling and signs the finish is wearing off (actual stain is showing wear, so bit obvious), you could see cloudy areas in finish after few months, and even “dents” where my kids sat doing homework (like from their pencils!).
Help! Or better finish suggestion?

View mckenziedrums's profile


121 posts in 3864 days

#13 posted 06-13-2011 08:08 PM

I would never use Waterlox for a counter… it’s not food safe by any stretch of the imagination. For a butcher block top I’d use a penetrating oil that won’t necessarily leave a high gloss finish but won’t ever chip because it soaks into the wood. Of course, I wouldn’t be doing homework on a butcher block top either. If you need a surface that holds up well to all kinds of use one of the stone surfaces would be better honestly.

But yea… any type of butcher block finish would be my go to for this. Most of them will include a food safe oil along with waxes to help get it smooth and polished.

View AEi's profile


2 posts in 3346 days

#14 posted 06-14-2011 05:24 PM

Thanks for input on my counter top – to clarify – I do not chop on this. It’s my island, and I do food prep (and kids do do homework! :). Wanted look of big table, not a big fan of granite, and too late now anyway. Love the look, now need to address finish issues.
I assumed that I’d have to have some sort of sealer on there since I had stained it a darker color. Waterlox says “Waterlox Original Tung oil finishes are water resistant, stand up to household spills and are non-toxic1 and food-safe when dry.” And – I called them yesterday and seems that several of my issues are related to what I was using to clean it (my dummy mistake).
That said – since I’ve a bit of a project ahead to fix the counter – would this penetrating oil be ok on top of the stain? And any suggestions on a specific oil would be greatly appreciated.

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