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Thread: Tung Oil

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Tung Oil

    I have a question for all you who use Tung Oil as a finish. I got some of the Tung Oil and Tung Oil sealer from Lee Valley. They sell it under their name for Sutherland-Welles. Anyway my question is they say/told me not to sand more than 220 grit or the tung oil won't penetrate very well. I have always sanded bowls, HF, etc to 320 or 400 grit. How far do you sand when using Tung Oil? Wasn't really satisfied with the sanding stopping at 220. I mean it doesn't look to bad but you can see a couple sanding lines in small spots and this is a Ash bowl I am finishing. Anyway your thoughts would be appreciated.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thats when you return from work one day
    and say, Hi, Honey, Im home forever.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  2. #2
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    Bernie the only thing I can think of is...would sanding down real fine "close" the pores of the wood not allowing the oil to soak in as well? So I'm guessing they want the oil to penetrate the wood better if left "open grained"?
    It's not what you achieve in life...It's what you overcome!

  3. #3
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    Thanks Tom. I think you might be right. I did two ash bowls today both 1/4" thick walls. One I sanded to 220 and stopped. Got to thinking about it and sanded the second to 400. I put the Tung Oil sealer on as per the instructions and after I saturated the inside of the bowl it was bleeding thru to the outside on both bowls. That tells me that sanding to higher grits doesn't seem to make any difference. So I am thinking maybe the 220 is for flatwork and not so much for turning. Guess I will keep experimenting.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thats when you return from work one day
    and say, Hi, Honey, Im home forever.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    I used Waterlox tung (not pure tung) before and they way I understood it (from another turner on AAW) was that it does not penetrate well when sanded to the higher grits like you mentioned - Also not to hurry the finish because tung can take a bit longer to dry. So for Vessels I did it the following way:

    1 - sand to 220 and apply first coat - keep wet for 20-30 min - wipe down well - let dry 24hrs or so
    2 - 0000 steel wool or sand lightly - blow gun or clean well - second coat - and sanded it in on the lathe by wet sanding with 320 - wipe down well - let dry
    3 - Repeat #2 - using 400
    4 - Repeat #2 - using 500
    5 - Repeat #2 - using 600 - If on the lathe - after sanding 600........... the last thing was to stop it and hand wet sand in direction of grain
    6 - When you satisfied apply the last coat which most all the time was step 4 or 5 - Dry for a week or two depending of climate etc...0000 again lightly then buff/wax or finsih the way you want

    Bowls - Most of the time i would just wet sand in several coats with the 400 and then let it dry - Im not in a rush so drying time was at least a couple weeks

    I am sure you should get other ideas on this - and it will be of interest to see what others do........................hope it helps
    Last edited by Dan Mosley; 11-27-2011 at 02:16 PM.
    First you have to learn the rules - Beginner
    Then you have to learn advanced rules - Professional
    Then you disregard the rules - This takes you to the master level................

  5. #5
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    That is kinda what I was thinking they meant from what I read on there site Dan. My problem is I like to turn 3 to 5 bowls at a session and I have always finished off the lathe. They say to let the tung oil dry for 24 hrs between coats. How would you do several bowls a day and wet sand on the lathe? I am going to do a couple more bowls and sand to 400 or 600 and try it again. If I get bleed thru from the inside to outside I am not going to worry about it. Thanks for the info Dan.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thats when you return from work one day
    and say, Hi, Honey, Im home forever.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  6. #6
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    Bernie........you have a point about doing many in a day. The way I do it is to get several bowls and sand/oil them thru the steps by mounting and dismounting and letting them dry. After drying time I go on to the next step and let dry again. I keep doing this until I reach completion. It is time consuming but im not in any rush.

    The drying time is usually 24hrs between initial steps but sometimes it can be longer if by touch I do not think it is dry. On the final coat I let the project dry much longer 1-2 weeks. The reason is that it was explained to me that tung takes a bit longer to fully cure/dry and you will not get the best finish if you buff it before its fully cured.

    Could it be fully cured/dried before the 1-2 weeks ?............ I suppose and I have no real explanation of why I let it sit for that period other than I know it has had plenty of time to dry. I have alot of other projects to play aroound with so the time to dry well does not interfere with anyting.
    Last edited by Dan Mosley; 11-28-2011 at 03:05 PM.
    First you have to learn the rules - Beginner
    Then you have to learn advanced rules - Professional
    Then you disregard the rules - This takes you to the master level................

  7. #7
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    Dan I just did a experiment with a ash bowl I turned. I took it to completion and put the first two coats of Lee Valley tung oil sealer on it letting it dry for 8 hrs as they recommended. They said if you can run your fingers across it smoothly it is dry and if they drag it is not. I used 0000 steel wool in-between. I used steel wool yesterday then applied the first coat of Lee Valley High Lustre tung oil finish. I will put another coat on today after 0000 steel wool. I let this dry 24 hrs before recoating. It is really starting to look nice and really after looking it over haven't seen a need to sand. The steel wool has worked well keeping it smooth. Has a warm look and feel to it. I am probably only going to put 2 coats of the tung oil finish on it as I don't want a lot of build on the bowl. Guess we will see how it goes.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thats when you return from work one day
    and say, Hi, Honey, Im home forever.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  8. #8
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    Funny thing you mentioned just using the 0000 between coats - I have two smaller projects im working on and ive been using D.O. 3-4 coats and only knocking it down with 0000. Ill post pictures in a few days when they are totally complete.

    Yep - just see how it goes - I am always experimenting around with ways of finishing................
    First you have to learn the rules - Beginner
    Then you have to learn advanced rules - Professional
    Then you disregard the rules - This takes you to the master level................

  9. #9
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    Yep I know what ya mean Dan. I am looking to cut my finishes down to like 2 to 5. I have homebrews and about 9 different finishes. Two I will continue to use for sure is going to be lacquer/shellac, Antique Oil and GF Woodturners Finish. The reason this came up is a lady at the gallery was picking up one of my bowls finished with Antique Oil. She tapped her fingernail on it and asked the director why would anyone put plastic on a wood bowl? Got me to thinking but still want to keep things simple. I just need something good and strong plus easy that will handle different foods, food acids, alcohol, etc for utility items.

    By the Dan I put my last coat of LV Tung oil finish on after using steel wool on it. It does look nice and has a nice soft feel to it. So I am pleased with it. I will use this one in my kitchen with any kind of food hot or cold. So we will see.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thats when you return from work one day
    and say, Hi, Honey, Im home forever.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  10. #10
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    Hi Bernie: I'm not a turner, but I know something about Tung Oil. I recently did a lot of research on it for an article (not published yet). If you're using 100% pure tung oil, how much is absorbed is a function of how much thinner you add. It has nothing to do with how much you sand the piece. The Tung Oil "Finish" is not pure Tung Oil, so for that, I'd follow their instructions.

    I hope this helps,
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

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