Finish over tung oil

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Forum topic by Bradb7888 posted 05-08-2017 04:11 AM 1211 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13 posts in 1748 days

05-08-2017 04:11 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tung oil finish poly polyurethane table

First off, I apologize for asking a repeat question but I’ve read several forums about this topic and none seem to have a uniform answer and apply to my situation exactly..
After a few small projects I decided to take on a bigger one and build a solid coffee table and end tables for my new house. I’m relatively new to woodworking so I’m not sure what to do about finishing my tables.
The table tops are walnut which I sanded up to 220, then applied two coats of 100% pure tung oil (Hopes was the brand) and sanded with 400 an hour after coating and wiped against the grain to fill the pores and let it dry several days between coats. The tables look amazing but I’m worried that the tung oil won’t provide adequate protection against liquids/heat as this is where we primarily eat. My wife does not want a glossy finish, so what should I apply over the tung oil to keep the table protected and not glossy?
Thanks in advance, you guys are always very helpful and any constructive criticism is welcome if someone has a better method than I’ve already done. No harm in knowing better next time..

6 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2705 days

#1 posted 05-08-2017 05:48 AM

Typically a poly will provide good protection. Don’t know about its compatibility with tung oil though. It’s fairly easy to rub out film finish to satin. .

Maybe google it and see if it’s up your alley.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Woodknack's profile


13584 posts in 3599 days

#2 posted 05-08-2017 05:52 AM

Agree with TheFridge.

Walnut is a relatively soft wood so you’ll want a hard finish and I would go for polyurethane. If necessary you can seal the tung oil with a coat or two of blond shellac which has universal compatibility, then top coat with poly. Don’t rush it. Also I recommend picking up Bob Flexner’s book on finishing, it will put you way ahead in the game.

-- Rick M,

View DrDirt's profile


4615 posts in 4962 days

#3 posted 05-08-2017 05:56 AM

Many film finishes work
I am a lacquer fan.

Biggest key is to have the oil fully cured. If there are no metallic driers, it may take quite some time.
If it has driers (like “boiled” linseed oil does) you need at least 3-4 days before you topcoat it.

I would defer and hope that Charles Neil would chime in, he has a ton of experience with most finishing materials and techniques.
I use 2 coats of Waterlox, which is a Tung/varnish/thinner blend.
After it cures, I shoot it with Sherwin Williams CAB Acrylic lacquer…. the one I used is ‘Medium Rubbed Effect”

Then I use Liberon Steel wool and wax to prevent it looking glassy, and have more of a soft warm glow, but with the protection there.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Woodknack's profile


13584 posts in 3599 days

#4 posted 05-08-2017 06:15 AM

Hopes tung oil doesn’t have any driers, it’ll probably take weeks to cure. I would rub it down to remove excess oil and seal with blonde shellac which doesn’t care about oil, then topcoat.

-- Rick M,

View Rich's profile (online now)


7394 posts in 1809 days

#5 posted 05-08-2017 06:20 AM

I’ve actually tinkered around with the same situation. I found Waterlox satin urethane to lay nicely over oil, and it’s a very durable, water resistant finish. I just used it on a wenge countertop for the new vanity I built for our guest bath.

They claim it resists water marks, etc, and my test boards beaded up water like I’ve never seen with a poly finish.

This finish will work for you, but no doubt there are dozens of others that might perform just as well. This just happens to be the one I found that was good enough that I quit looking.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7203 posts in 3713 days

#6 posted 05-08-2017 10:39 AM

What Rick said, it may take a long while for that to dry enough for a varnish. A coat of shellac, then a top coat of the varnish of your choice. I prefer the alkyd resin varieties, and if you get one made with soya oil (P&L 38) it will have minimal effect on the appearance you have now. The alkd/soya will also shift less over time (won’t yellow as much as urethane/linseed). The downside is that P&L 38 is really hard to locate, at least around me.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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