Reclaimed hemlock table top - Tung oil questions

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by jbin89 posted 08-29-2012 04:21 PM 7061 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jbin89's profile


2 posts in 2606 days

08-29-2012 04:21 PM

Topic tags/keywords: table table top hemlock tung oil tung

This is my first major wood working project. I have made a table top out of 2 inch thick hemlock barn boards. I sanded them down and glued three pieces together to get top 60”X28”. See photo for unfinished top.

I am at the finishing stage, and after some reading and a trip to Lee Valley I decided to go with all natural 100% Tung oil.

It seems that there are a LOT of different opinions as to how to use the oil, and I wanted to get some guidance on the best method.

I have not mixed it with mineral spirits, but rather am just applying it directly. My questions are:

1) Is it a mistake to not mix it with anything? What are the pros/cons of adding solvents?
2) How long should I wait between coats?
3) What is the best thing to do between coats? Sand it? Steel Wool? Buff it?
4)After a few coats, will the finish be blotchy? I have applied one coat so far, and while it looks great initially, after a few days it has become blotchy. I presume that is the wood soaking in the oil, and hope that after more coats it will look better.

Thanks in advance for the help!

4 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5227 posts in 4470 days

#1 posted 08-29-2012 05:27 PM

Do ya want it to remain “rustic” or are ya gonna sand some to remove really irregular surface variations?
Pure tung oil doesn’t dry well. A tung oil/varnish mix will give ya a more durable finish, and can be wooled/waxed to a soft and smooth sheen.

-- [email protected]

View gdpifer's profile


47 posts in 3190 days

#2 posted 08-29-2012 06:39 PM

My only experience with pure tung oil was on a oak hardwood floor. I diluted 50% with odorless solvent, put on a coat and let it soak in, applied 2nd coat, let it soak in and then a third coat. The next day I did two coats. The third day on coat and after a few minutes what hadn’t soaked in was wiped off. I then let it dry for a week to 10 days. The tung oil does get a hard finish which many other oils (mineral oil, etc.) won’t get. What I love is that it has a very natural look, not the plastic look of poly. And, it can be touched up at any time. After being down for 7 years I have not yet needed to touch up.


-- Garry, Kentucky

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2698 days

#3 posted 08-29-2012 06:45 PM

Lee Valley provides good instructions with their tung oil, which really is tung oil and not one of the many imposters out there that go by “tung oil finish”. I would simply follow them. I wouldn’t bother with using mineral spirits as this is only to make it thinner amd soak in more, not necesary on a wood like hemlock.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Chrisysue's profile


30 posts in 2461 days

#4 posted 01-21-2013 01:38 PM

Its my first day here, but for what its worth….
Larry made me a wall cabinet 60” wide, 4 doors, the doors (here I go again not knowing the right terminology), grrr sorry, the doors cover the openings to the cabinet, and they have panels. Once I get used to this site (I have never gotten involved with a interactive woodworking site before) I will post a cabinet photo.

Anyway, back to business, lol I used several old socks to apply the undiluted tung oil. Then every 2-4 days I hand sanded each door inside and out with steel wool . I believe if I’m not mistaken i did that 5 times… lets say 4-6 just to be safe, never did it look waxy, it looked and still looks like glass, its amazing. Now you have me looking at the cabinet real close…. I hope I can find a then and now picture of them because over the years, the finish has aged beautifully.

-- Chrisy & Larry GR. MI.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics