100% tung oil

mori1June 21, 2012

I am refinishing a bathroom medicine cabinet. Normally I use oil based polyurethane, however, it was suggested that I might try tung oil. Found an old container of Hope's 100% tung oil. It says for big application thin with mineral spirits. It typical size medicine cabinet so I'm assuming that I should thin it with mineral spirits. So how much do I add and how long of a drying time between coats?

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If it's an "old container", especially if it's been opened, toss it and go for what you are accustomed to using.

Old tung oil will start to oxidize in the can and will never make a decent finish.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 8:03PM
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Tung Oil has this mystique around it. There are many finishes that capitalize on this by calling themselves "Tung Oil Finish" that are oil-varnish blends and typically the oil is linseed oil and nary a drop of tung oil can be found. If it is 100% tung oil, you do have the real stuff.

Truth is, it provides minimal protection, you must let thoroughly dry (at least a couple of days) between coats or you get white spots that you need to strip to get rid of, is relatively expensive (except you already have this), and really looks no different than the easier to use, cheaper, and more readily available boiled linseed oil.

Whatever you decide, I strongly suggest that you try your finish out on some scrap and make sure it works to your satisfaction.

Here are directions, courtesy of Bob Flexner's "Understanding Wood Finishes" (2nd ed.) P.77
"Tung Oil can me made fairly water resistant after five or six coats. But it it too soft and thin to resist scratching or water vapor exchange, and it is a difficult finish to make look nice. The first three or four coats appear flat and blotchy on the wood and feel rough to the touch. Only after five or six coats, sanding between each coat, can you get an even satin sheen. But the finish is still not as smooth to the touch as linseed oil.

In addition, tung oil cures very slowly -- considerably faster than raw linseed oil but still slower than boiled linseed oil -- so you need to wait several days between coats. This makes tung oil an inefficient finish to use."

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 8:10PM
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That was my thought when I found it. I don't think the person who had this, ever use it. So, I open it and poured some out. The color and consistency look good with no foul odor. That's when I posted my question. However, the more I read the more I thought this isn't going to work. Until I found a post on mixing varnishes why didn't I think about that. I mix stains so why not varnish. Found a recipe for tung oil/poly and mineral spirits. Also, found one where they used tung/blo/poly. Though I don't understand why use blo and tung in the same recipe if there is really little difference between them. I don't have BLO but raw linseed oil. I can't for the life of me remember why I got it.
As for drying times well, I honestly don't think a week is too long as that is how I stain wood.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 8:42PM
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See the article below for the scoop on linseed oil.

Staining and dying wood should never need a week to dry. Oil based stains seldom need more than 36 hours, water based less than 24, and alcohol based around a half hour to dry for final sanding and finishing.

Why not use shellac for the finish. Natural, fast drying, available in many colors/tints and easily repairable if damaged.

To get fresh shellac, you need to buy flakes and dissolve them in denatured alcohol. A little research on shellac will give you plenty of info on what to do.

Here is a link that might be useful: The difference between raw and boiled linseed oil

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:36PM
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The stains I use don't need a week to dry, I just prefer to wait a week before putting on the next coat. I know, I get it that she's nuts, all the time. I'm in no hurry and the wood is not going anywhere. Thanks for the info on linseed old.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:50PM
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