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I'm new to this forum and have really enjoyed reading several threads over the last week or so. A lot of experience and knowledge, and a friendly atmosphere. I was working on a house in Washington DC that was built by George Washington's goddaughter. The heart pine flooring was believed to have been harvested from the forest at Mount Vernon. We had to remove a large section of the wood floor for construction so I was fortunate enough to acquire several pieces of this beautiful heart pine. One of the items i built with the wood is our dining room table. The table turned out very well, I left the nail and worm holes and a few other defects. The problem I am having is my poor selection of a finish. I used a wipe on poly and it's not holding up well to daily use. I would like to refinish it with tung oil. Do I need to remove the poly, and if so how?
 

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Tung oil wouldn't work over polyurethane. I would strip it with a methylene chloride paint and varnish remover. The cleanest way to get everything off of it would be to use a water wash remover. Without the proper equipment it would be best to use a semi-paste remover. Since I don't really refinish professionally anymore I use Kleen Strip paint and varnish remover. It's available at most of the box stores and even walmart. It works nearly as well as the commercial removers I was using from Kwick Kleen. It's best to work with any remover in warm weather above 70 degrees. Brush the remover on thick and let it set for 15 to 30 minutes re-wetting any spots that might dry out. Then test a spot with a putty knife and see iff you can scrape the finish off clean. If it does, scrape as much of the finish off as you can as quickly as you can and use a soft brass brush on any detail spots. Once you start scraping the old finish will try to dry back on so it's really important to work fast. Then the residue that is left if you have a power washer, turn the pressure as low as it will go and rinse the table off with that starting from the bottom up. The pressure washer will clean the furniture off cleaner than anything else you could use. If the pressure washer is not an option you can rinse the residue off with lacquer thinner. Be sure to frequently change rags as the remover has waxes in it to help prevent evaporation and you need to get the wax off.
 

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Thanks Steve.

This sounds like a lot more work than I had anticipated. Though I really like the look and feel of tung oil, my main concern is providing a more durable finish on this table that gets a lot of use. Would recoating with more wipe-on poly work? Or can I use real poly over the wipe-on?
 

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Thanks Steve.

This sounds like a lot more work than I had anticipated. Though I really like the look and feel of tung oil, my main concern is providing a more durable finish on this table that gets a lot of use. Would recoating with more wipe-on poly work? Or can I use real poly over the wipe-on?
Since the table has been used and possible has had furniture polish or wax used the first step would be to clean the table with a wax and grease remover. If the wipe on poly is oil based it is the same product as the real poly. They just watered it down with mineral spirits to make it work easier. You can achieve the same end by using either. The wipe-on will just take more coats. Be sure to scuff the finish with 220 grit paper between coats. Polyurethane needs the surfaced roughened a little for adhesion.

If you are using a oil based poly you can make it a harder finish by adding enamel hardener. It will make the poly work more like a 2k urethane. I buy enamel hardener at Tractor Supply stores. Use in good ventilation as the fumes are very hazzardous.
 

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Don't give up on the oil table. (As a fan of oil)

Once you remove the poly you just wipe on multiple coats of an oil finish though Tung based finishes are smelly and slow to firm up. The beauty of an oil finish is that it is almost as water resistant as poly but is not a thick film finish unless you build it up a lot. It can be freshened up anytime in the future with a bit of oil and elbow grease. The marks just look better rather than worse.
Steve is correct that p only has an adhesion problem. Once cured it does not adhere to itself. You get some mechanical bond by "scuffing up" the surface of the finish. The wipe on version is best for lightly used objects like a decorative box or frame. A "real" poly finish needs to have a film built up carefully without brush marks etc.
 

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What did you do to prepare the surface before finishing? What are the problems you are having with the existing finish? How is the table used? Does it get some abuse or is it well taken care of?

Pure tung oil is not a durable, protective finish. There are better choices.
 
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