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Ask the Staff


Question:

Help! I've used Formby's Tung Oil Finish, and have been pleased with the glossy finish. But now I want to learn how to use "pure tung oil". What should it be mixed with for different types of finishes and applications? Is it used alone, in the pure form? If so, how is it applied? Also please tell me about drying time in its various forms.

Thanks,
Tom Bryant


Answer:

Tom,

While a "Pure" tung oil finish has a nice sound to it, we would not recommend it as a suitable finish by itself. Folks are usually getting pure tung oil to mix with other finish products to make a custom blend. You can Google around some and read posts and articles that speak of different ways to mix up tung oil, varnishes and solvents to make a wipe-on finish of your own.

Pure tung oil cures slowly. Faster than raw linseed oil, but slower than boiled linseed oil. It can take several days to cure between coats (recoat before the previous coat has cured and the lower coats never dry completely and you get a mess). Its slow time to dry makes it inconvenient at best and a dust and bug magnet at worst.

Formby's is a polymerized oil mixture that is a wiping varnish (the oils are heated first in an oxygen free environment to about 500 degrees F). The finish will cure faster than a finish you blend on your own - say a mix with a blend of varnish, pure tung oil and mineral spirits.

If you really want to find out more on the nature of finishing choices and cutting through the often confusing labels put on finish products consider getting Bob Flexner's book titled "Understanding Wood Finishing". We highly recommend it for woodworkers who want to select an appropriate finish for their work.

Regards,
Ed Scent
Highland Woodworking

 

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