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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone used Tung oil extensively? I've heard many good thing about this relative expensive finishing material, the one dominant complain seems to be long drying time, especially if used in its pure form.

My primary concern is the protection this finish can provide. I have some projects that used basswood as the primary medium, and I was concerned with how soft the wood is.

I am pleased with the aesthetics of this finish, but couldn't help hoping that it will also somewhat compensate the weakness of the soft wood it is protecting.

Can anyone offer some insight into this?

Thanks.
 

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>>>> I've heard many good thing about this relative expensive finishing material, the one dominant complain seems to be long drying time, especially if used in its pure form.

If you are new to finishing, let me suggest you purchace Bob Flexner's Understanding Finishing. It's the Bible of almost everything to do with finishing. For example, it will explain all about tung oil and how it differs from the faux product marketed as "Tung Oil Finish", which has little or no real tung oil.

In the short form let me say that pure, real tung oil is very, very slow drying. Like all true oil finishes it is very poor in it's resistance to moisture and it has no durability or abrasion resistance. It will not make a soft wood any harder. If that's what you want, you should be using an oil based urethane varnish.

For some reason tung oil has aquired a cache as a finish. In truth, its primary use is to make water resistant finishes for marine and exterior surfaces. For this use, it is mixed with a water resistant resin then the two are heated to a point where they combine into a new mixture called varnish.
 

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Michael T.X. said:
Has anyone used Tung oil extensively? I've heard many good thing about this relative expensive finishing material, the one dominant complain seems to be long drying time, especially if used in its pure form.

My primary concern is the protection this finish can provide. I have some projects that used basswood as the primary medium, and I was concerned with how soft the wood is.

I am pleased with the aesthetics of this finish, but couldn't help hoping that it will also somewhat compensate the weakness of the soft wood it is protecting.

Can anyone offer some insight into this?

Thanks.
I would say do your homework and you will find there are some really good benefits for using tung oil as a finish. If you thin the first coat and apply it with a clean cloth until its completely soaked in. This means repeating the coat several times before its dry to areas that seem to be soaking in faster than others. This will allow the finish to make a sub surface coat that will help make the the wood a little harder.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 

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Tung Oil

Oils are penetrating finishes that leave the natural look and feel of the wood. They provide moderate protection from water, and prevent the wood from drying out.
Oils are extremely easy to apply to bare, stained or previously oiled wood using a cloth. Oils will not chip, blister or peel. Oil finishes are ideal for projects where you want to highlight the colour and character of the wood like decorative boxes, side tables, buffets, armoires, shelves, butcher blocks, etc.

Tung Oil is recommended for all interior wood surfaces. It provides a beautiful hand-rubbed finish and resists well against water spills.
Although you can build coats of tung oil one on top of the other, it is not a film finish so it will not really make your wood stronger - though each subsequent coat will offer you more protection.

Polymerized tung oil is often a component of exterior and marine varnishes. This finish will cure and provide a very high protection from heat, water, alcohol, etc. This would may be a better option for your project if you really want to protect more of a 'high traffic' piece.

For more information, feel free to check out my company's array of wood finishing products at www.circa1850.com
 

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To your implied question about "but couldn't help hoping that it will also somewhat compensate the weakness of the soft wood it is protecting." expecting the finish to compensate for the characteristics of the wood seems to be an exercise in futility. The finish is not going to make the basswood harder, though certain finishes offer other kinds of protection: moisture, etc. I would second the suggestion about buying Flexner's book, but for a on-line opinion check this article. Be sure to look at the last paragraph.
 

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I have a bottle of Homer Formby's tung oil and was intending to use it on a mallet. Is that an appropriate finish?

Also, does tung oil have a shelf life? My bottle has been around for a loooong time.

TIA
 

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According to Bob Flexner, Formby's Tung Oil is actually just a very thin varnish; wiping varnish. I looked at the MSDS, and it is indeed thin: 78% mineral spirits. Anyway, varnish can go bad. It starts to cure and that process cannot be reversed. Your first clue would be if it doesn't pour out of the can (duh!), but you might try it on something and see if it works. My choice would be to toss it. If you want wiping varnish, mix your own: varnish and MS 50/50.
 
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"Also, does tung oil have a shelf life? My bottle has been around for a loooong time."

I usually go with a 2 year rule for most of my finishes.

However, a small test on another piece of wood other than your main project is always a good idea.

Remember, it's better to spend an additional $10 up front rather than ruin a project which, in turn, will cost you a lot more $$ and time and energy and frustration down the line.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
>>>> I've heard many good thing about this relative expensive finishing material, the one dominant complain seems to be long drying time, especially if used in its pure form.

If you are new to finishing, let me suggest you purchace Bob Flexner's Understanding Finishing. It's the Bible of almost everything to do with finishing. For example, it will explain all about tung oil and how it differs from the faux product marketed as "Tung Oil Finish", which has little or no real tung oil.

In the short form let me say that pure, real tung oil is very, very slow drying. Like all true oil finishes it is very poor in it's resistance to moisture and it has no durability or abrasion resistance. It will not make a soft wood any harder. If that's what you want, you should be using an oil based urethane varnish.

For some reason tung oil has aquired a cache as a finish. In truth, its primary use is to make water resistant finishes for marine and exterior surfaces. For this use, it is mixed with a water resistant resin then the two are heated to a point where they combine into a new mixture called varnish.
I will definitely check out this book, thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I would say do your homework and you will find there are some really good benefits for using tung oil as a finish. If you thin the first coat and apply it with a clean cloth until its completely soaked in. This means repeating the coat several times before its dry to areas that seem to be soaking in faster than others. This will allow the finish to make a sub surface coat that will help make the the wood a little harder.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.


Thank you! I find this answer very helpful and are ready to try it. A few details:

a. what do you mix with 100% Tung oil for the first coat?

b. what proportion of thinner vs. Tung oil for the first coat?

c. for this part of your reply

"This means repeating the coat several times before its dry to areas that seem to be soaking in faster than others."

are you still referring to the operation for the first coat (thinned Tung oil)?

if yes, I was informed that you should wipe clean tung oil applied within 15-20 min to avoid gummy residue to form, so should I time the whole process of first coat to be within the time limit?

what if my project is large enough or complex enough that I can't even apply the whole surface with oil once in 20min?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
To your implied question about "but couldn't help hoping that it will also somewhat compensate the weakness of the soft wood it is protecting." expecting the finish to compensate for the characteristics of the wood seems to be an exercise in futility. The finish is not going to make the basswood harder, though certain finishes offer other kinds of protection: moisture, etc. I would second the suggestion about buying Flexner's book, but for a on-line opinion check this article. Be sure to look at the last paragraph.

I see the point of the last paragraph, thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I would say do your homework and you will find there are some really good benefits for using tung oil as a finish. If you thin the first coat and apply it with a clean cloth until its completely soaked in. This means repeating the coat several times before its dry to areas that seem to be soaking in faster than others. This will allow the finish to make a sub surface coat that will help make the the wood a little harder.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.

Another thought Al:

Would you please explain a bit more to me on the difference between thinning the first coat and using 100% percent tung oil for every coat?
 

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a. what do you mix with 100% Tung oil for the first coat?

Mineral Spirits

b. what proportion of thinner vs. Tung oil for the first coat?

50/50

c. for this part of your reply

"This means repeating the coat several times before its dry to areas that seem to be soaking in faster than others."

are you still referring to the operation for the first coat (thinned Tung oil)?

Subsequent applications.

if yes, I was informed that you should wipe clean tung oil applied within 15-20 min to avoid gummy residue to form, so should I time the whole process of first coat to be within the time limit?

It's discretionary, but it's wiping after given time to penetrate.

what if my project is large enough or complex enough that I can't even apply the whole surface with oil once in 20min?
What's the project?







.,
 

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Michael T.X. said:
Thank you! I find this answer very helpful and are ready to try it. A few details:

a. what do you mix with 100% Tung oil for the first coat?

b. what proportion of thinner vs. Tung oil for the first coat?

c. for this part of your reply

"This means repeating the coat several times before its dry to areas that seem to be soaking in faster than others."

are you still referring to the operation for the first coat (thinned Tung oil)?

if yes, I was informed that you should wipe clean tung oil applied within 15-20 min to avoid gummy residue to form, so should I time the whole process of first coat to be within the time limit?

what if my project is large enough or complex enough that I can't even apply the whole surface with oil once in 20min?
If I thin my varnish or tung oil. I use turpentine. It has solids that will be left behind making your finish stronger unlike min spirits.

I would only thin about 10% and try that. It should be about as thin as stain, maybe a little thicker. Don't mix much of the material because it goes a long way. You can always mix more.

The first coat is wetting it several times to "feed" it what it's asking for. More as it soaks in. If it gets away from you and starts to dry and get sticky. Wet it and wipe it smooth and continue with your hands.

On larger projects you will need to do it in sections. When I finish a table. I do the top and edges as one section. You should use a rag not a brush so it will be very easy to cover a lot of surface.

image-546831624.jpg

These two pics are from a table I finished with wiping varnish. Pour it on and plow it around and let it soak and pour on some more till you feel it's really saturated.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 

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Michael T.X. said:
Another thought Al:

Would you please explain a bit more to me on the difference between thinning the first coat and using 100% percent tung oil for every coat?
Better deeper penetration and more time to work with it.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 

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Michael T.X. said:
Thank you! I find this answer very helpful and are ready to try it. A few details:

a. what do you mix with 100% Tung oil for the first coat?

b. what proportion of thinner vs. Tung oil for the first coat?

c. for this part of your reply

"This means repeating the coat several times before its dry to areas that seem to be soaking in faster than others."

are you still referring to the operation for the first coat (thinned Tung oil)?

if yes, I was informed that you should wipe clean tung oil applied within 15-20 min to avoid gummy residue to form, so should I time the whole process of first coat to be within the time limit?

what if my project is large enough or complex enough that I can't even apply the whole surface with oil once in 20min?
Sorry I missed one question.
If you flood the surface and rub it in with your hand or for your first time with the rag you applied the finish with. It won't turn into a gummy mess. You can use min spirits but turp is better. Here is another explanation for basically the same finish.

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/guide-to-furniture-finishes-ga6.htm

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thank everyone for your input on this subject matter!

Special Thanks to Al B Thayer for all your attention and help. I am at this point curious enough to want to ask about the quote at the end of your posts: "Nails only hold themselves", ehn.......?

Also I have re-posted pics of some of my work in "project showcase" forum and included a bit info about each, check them out in the post titled "Wood Sculpture"

Cheers.
 
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