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Thread: Tung oil finish for cutting board?

  1. #1
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    Tung oil finish for cutting board?

    I finished a few cutting boards yesterday, and was giving some to my kids and the LOML, but I wanted something that might last a little longer than my usual mineral oil finish. So, I bought a can of Tung oil, but was then afraid to use it because it has a great big 'poison' sign on it, and I couldn't find any authority telling me it was safe. So, I used the mineral oil.

    I now see the comment on a thread today that 'any finish is safe once cured.' Could I have used the Tung oil, or a mix of Tung oil and mineral oil, to finish the boards, and could my recipients use mineral oil to replenish the finish when it gets dried out, as none of them keep Tung oil in their cupboards?

    Thanks.
    Cheers,
    Roger


    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

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  2. #2
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    Roger,
    I wouldn't be overly concerned about the mineral oil 'not lasting'... I tell my customers that the finish is an easily renewable one, and that perhaps once every couple of months they should recoat it, depending on how much it gets used/washed. the Tung Oil however has the potential to affect people. I know whenever I use Tung or similar wipe on finishes, I get a 'hangover' effect for as long as several days.
    -Ned

  3. #3
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    Roger, Is the can you have real tung oil or is it a "Tung oil finish". There is a product on the market that they call tung oil finish that contains little if any tung oil and actauly is if my memory is correct a wipe on poly. I would not use it. I would simply tell em to use mineral oil to freshen the board when it need sit. I believe Vaughn has a lot of info about cutting board care on his web page
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
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  4. #4
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    When I give someone a cutting board, I give them a little squeeze bottle of a mineral oil/paraffin wax mix. I melt just a little paraffin wax in some mineral oil. The mineral oil soaks in and the wax gives the board a nice little easy to clean up finish on it.

    Food safe, and I tell them to just apply some finish when ever the board starts to look like they need it.

    I wouldn't want to put any kind of a curing finish on a cutting board, as the knife action would 'cut it up' and damage it quite quickly.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Dowell View Post
    I wouldn't want to put any kind of a curing finish on a cutting board, as the knife action would 'cut it up' and damage it quite quickly.
    +1 I would personally consider even real 100% tung oil as film building/curing (albeit slooowly film building).

    You'd also be more likely to cut them up and have flakes come off in the food which would at least qualify as icky

  6. #6
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    OK, it is Minwax Tung Oil Protective Finish. I haven't opened the can, but I suppose I can use it on some furniture projects coming up, or take it back. If I use it as a furniture polish, can I put paste wax on it once it cures? I find finishing somewhat intimidating. It looks like Tung oil is out as far as cutting boards are concerned.

    I'll have to try your solution, Brent.

    These boards are a single slab of sassafras, meant to be a working cutting board, and not highly decorative. They do look good with the mineral oil all soaked into them.
    Cheers,
    Roger


    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  7. #7
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    Yep minwax "tung oil" isn't really tung oil at all - it might have some in it but I've never seen much evidence to support that it does. Primarily it an oil based wiping varnish (not sure on the oil, probably either linseed or soya but doesn't matter to much because its been converted into varnish) - effectively its just a varnish with a bunch of mineral spirits added.

    Having said that wiping varnish like the minwax product is a really easy way to do a decent finish on furniture type projects. Its usually a fair bit cheaper to buy varnish and then cut it yourself (although I sometimes find sales so have used the minwax product a bit ). I wouldn't use it as a "furniture polish" per-say (i.e. usually wouldn't use it on top of another finish unless I knew what it was for sure) but I would happily use it as a furniture finish (might be slicing hairs there). Once its cured a top coat of wax can help gloss it up a little imho although its not strictly necessary.

    When using a wiping varnish (and not claiming this is the BEST way by any means at all - just how I use it so grain of salt) I usually like to do 6-9 coats (although 3-4 starts looking pretty good, I like to do it pretty thin so it builds slower and imho has more visual depth). Rough plan would be sand to 150-220 grit, put on a first coat let set for 12-24 hours, then sand back with 220 until its flush. After that I usually do a coat every ~12 hours (8 seems to be ok, 12 usually lines up better with before and after work ) and lightly sand off any nibs between them with 320 (for the first couple anyway then may move up to 400-600). The last couple of coats I like to put on thinner with no sanding and then buff out after its cured fully for 3-4 days with a crumpled brown paper bag. Often I will topcoat that with 1-3 coats of paste wax buffed between them which makes it delightfully smooth and shiny. Again there are dozens of different ways people do this, this just works for me (and I wouldn't necessarily suggest this as a restoration process but for stuff around the home its dandy).

    This article explains oil based varnish pretty well:
    http://www.hardwoodlumberandmore.com...d-Varnish.aspx

    All of their finishing articles are decent in general (and helped me figure out what some of the differences were between the different misleadingly named products on the market): http://www.hardwoodlumberandmore.com/Articles.aspx

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Tulk View Post
    OK, it is Minwax Tung Oil Protective Finish. I haven't opened the can, but I suppose I can use it on some furniture projects coming up, or take it back. If I use it as a furniture polish, can I put paste wax on it once it cures? I find finishing somewhat intimidating. It looks like Tung oil is out as far as cutting boards are concerned...
    Ryan's right, that's not tung oil. I've used a lot of the Formby's Tung Oil Finish (similar product made by a sister company) on my turned work. It's an easy to apply, nice-looking finish, but I wouldn't use it on a cutting board. And as Ryan said, it makes for a decent furniture finish, but not a polish to use on already-finished furniture. And yes, it can be waxed after it's cured. I wax virtually everything I turn, including the pieces I finish with Tung Oil Finish (wiping varnish).

    My preference is to use mineral oil on cutting boards. As Ned said, replenishing them every few months is fast and easy. Brent's mineral oil/paraffin mix is also popular with a lot of folks. (I've not tried it yet.) Here's the write-up Don mentioned. I used to put this (and other marketing stuff) the brochures I included with the cutting boards I used to sell:

    Cutting Board Care and Feeding

    To answer your original question, you could use pure tung oil on a cutting board, but I wouldn't suggest it. Once it's cured, it is food safe, but pure tung oil can take weeks to cure. (Ned's "hangover" is from the fumes of the uncured product. I'm betting he would have no reaction to cured tung oil.) Also, especially if you apply multiple coats, it will build up a film finish, which I consider to be a bad thing for a cutting board, due to that film getting damaged and flaking off. Even if the flakes are "food safe". nobody's going to want to eat them.
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  9. #9
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    To my thinking, "finish" and "cutting board" are mutually exclusive.
    A cutting board is cut on, why finish it? I use olive oil to season my boards although some think the OO is a no-no. Mineral oil is just fine and a board can easily be retreated with same when necessary.
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  10. #10
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    Tung oil finish is a wop that is meant to give a finish like tung but not the months of cure time. WOP is very durable and is very toxic in raw form. That's why the "once cured" keeps flying around. Again....and please feel free to do the reasearch on your own...any finish once cured is food safe.
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