Tung Oil Help

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Forum topic by tyskkvinna posted 05-15-2014 03:04 PM 1883 views 3 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1310 posts in 3497 days

05-15-2014 03:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tung oil

I have a customer that wants me to make his item with a tung oil finish. I’ve been messing around with it a little bit and I’m wondering if you can give me any suggestions.. What should I expect out of the finish? So far I’m kind of underwhelmed. I buffed it in like the label said, and it looks nice but then 12 hours later it looks kind of dull. Is that expected? Should it be glossier? Should I build the finish? How long should I wait?

-- Lis - Michigan - -

18 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3509 days

#1 posted 05-15-2014 03:14 PM

It tends to be a bit dull. Do several coats then wax and buff is pretty standard.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3497 days

#2 posted 05-15-2014 03:17 PM

Okay. Any particular wax that works better?

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5227 posts in 4472 days

#3 posted 05-15-2014 03:23 PM

I have used both Johnson’s Paste Wax and The MinWax “Finishing” wax with good results.
MinWax is available in both light and dark for use on different woods.
Just my experience.

-- [email protected]

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

1222 posts in 2746 days

#4 posted 05-15-2014 03:29 PM

I have always used polymerized tung oil and I have only used it on cherry and walnut. I apply it by hand and sort of rub it in. I let it sit for a few min. and rub all of the wet areas again to move them to the areas that have soaked it up. I let it set a few more min. and wipe it down with a dry cloth. I do the same thing the next day until no more is soaked up. I let it dry 2-3 days, buff it out with a buffer and apply Mayland’s Wax. I use this wax because it is what I have.
This has produced a nice glow to the wood. At least to me.

-- Jerry

View bigblockyeti's profile (online now)


5978 posts in 2232 days

#5 posted 05-15-2014 03:54 PM

Jerry, that finish technique sounds perfect for a dresser top I’m working on, does the polymerized vs. standard tung oil offer any addition protection from scratches and dents in the wood? Does it dry well even as the humidity goes up? I only ask because I have experience with BLO and while it’s cheap and gives a good look, I hate pretty much everything else about it.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3497 days

#6 posted 05-15-2014 03:57 PM

I have not heard of polymerized tung oil. What brand?

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Wildwood's profile


2742 posts in 2646 days

#7 posted 05-15-2014 05:03 PM

This is the only company know selling polymerized Tung oil and very expensive. There may be other brands out there.

Many folks buying what they think is Tung oil simply buying oil varnish or wiping varnish product. If looking for sheen use a wiping varnish product.

Pure Tung oil will give you a satin finish, need between four & eight coats to achieve any kind of protection. Drying and recoat times more than polymerized Tung oil. Pure Tung oil will develop a patina over time as more coats applied.
Would tell the client need to re-apply at least annually unless talking about carved work even that would not hurt.

-- Bill

View Gary's profile


9402 posts in 3944 days

#8 posted 05-15-2014 05:12 PM

I don’t like polymerized because I don’t like that plastic look. I use pure Tung and use my own wax which is a mixture of bees wax and carnuba. I use the bees wax to soften the carnuba for application. It’s a hard wax and gives good protection, for a wax.
Good to see you back, Lis. You’ve been gone a while

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23387 posts in 3617 days

#9 posted 05-15-2014 07:25 PM

I used Formby’s Tung oil and was very pleased with it. They tell you to put on at least 3 coats and that is the truth. Only until you have that third coat on does it look any thing like finished. I went 4 or 5 coats and it is a very even finish and does not look like a shiny plastic finish but nice and natural with a sheen. I don’t know how durable it is compared to Poly, but it looks nice when done!!

I had a guy on Sawmill write that Formby’s does not have ANY Tung oil in it so I called the tech dept at Formby’s and talked to a chemist. He said they start with tung oil and then it changes in their formulation with the magic they work on the finish, I guess.

Good luck Lis!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View DrDirt's profile


4592 posts in 4254 days

#10 posted 05-15-2014 08:40 PM

I am a fan of Waterlox – it will build, but like others mention, I did waterlox then wax.

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

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3497 days

#11 posted 05-15-2014 09:07 PM

I was also using Formby’s. I will try 3-5 coats of it.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3529 days

#12 posted 05-15-2014 09:25 PM

For myself, I found that pure tung oil takes “forever” to cure so I mix a small bottle with a 50/50 mix of tung oil and Danish oil. That mixture works for me however the piece has to be sanded really fine to take a nice shine. 800 to 1500 grit does it for me then buff with a good beeswax furniture polish.

Oh yeah, several coats of the mixture till it stops absorbing the oil. Buff till you feel a bit of heat in the wood.

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

1222 posts in 2746 days

#13 posted 05-15-2014 09:40 PM

Pure tung oil takes a very long time to dry. I have yet to have what I would call a plastic look to the finish. It can be adjusted with #0000 steel wool. The Sutherland Wells brand is expensive.
If I had a piece that would see use such as a table I would use Waterlox. This is another finish I love. I have only used tung oil on clocks some of which I top coated with dewaxed 1 lb. cut of shellac.
The tung oil is expensive as previously noted but a quart can lasts me a long time.
Polymerization occurs when the oil is heated. This causes the molecules to change in bonding and the drying time then becomes shorter.

-- Jerry

View Planeman40's profile


1452 posts in 3272 days

#14 posted 05-16-2014 04:49 AM

To answer your question about polymerized tung oil. Polymerized tung oil is made by heating tung oil to about 500 degrees in an oxygen-free environment. This increases the viscosity and film-forming quality.

Also, as tung oil reacts to air to dry (it becomes a wax), so be sure to put the lid on tightly when storing. Small quantities left in an air-tight jar or can will turn to wax in time if there is much air in the jar. To avoid this, add marbles to the oil to take up the space of the air in the jar or can. The less air in the can or jar, the better.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Manitario's profile


2783 posts in 3394 days

#15 posted 05-16-2014 05:33 AM

Lee Valley sells polymerized tung oil;,190,42942

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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