Professionals and Amateurs Together

Using Tung Oil


What is the best way to use 100% raw tung oil? Does it need to be mixed with other liquids such as Japan Dryer?—Myrl Phelps


Bob Oswald replies: Best is a good question as woodworkers have all kinds of ‘best’ ways, but I use it straight from the can. Tung Oil dries very slowly. I suppose Japan Dryer would help but I prefer to let the natural process work. So I wipe it on, let it sit an hour and wipe it off. After a couple of days, re-apply if you feel the need.

In an experience with Maloof finishes a while back, I applied it in the normal wipe-varnish method. Wipe on, wait 30 minutes, wipe off and repeat in 12 hours. About three coats later it was so thick and sticky I couldn’t work it after a day or two. It turns out it’s 1/3 Tung Oil, 1/3 Linseed and 1/3 varnish so it’s a very slow drying finish. Stripping this piece to bare wood, I applied it, wiped it very vigorously to get it thin and waited two days between coats. Perhaps it was not the right procedure but it produced a stunning finish. The moral here was that tung oil is slow drying, give it time.

Tags: Finishing