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Thread: tung oil question

  1. #1
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    tung oil question

    Sorry to be a pest guys, but one more question for the finishing gurus out there. Is tung oil (not the pure stuff, the Formby's stuff) considered a topcoat?
    Last edited by Ted Daigle; 12-18-2005 at 7:00 PM.

  2. #2
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    Nowhere near a finish guru but I used the Formbys stuff years ago on an armoire out of aspen and maple ply. I wanted to keep the color from becoming ambered and the tung oil worked well for that. The only problem is I had to put on an awful lot of coats to get any kind of film buildup. I think I finally stopped at around 6-7 coats and it still looked like I could put more on. It came out looking nice but was pretty labor intensive. If you're after something with a hard film coat or a barrier against liquids for a table top or something I don't think it's probably a good choice. Just my $0.02.
    Use the fence Luke

  3. #3
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    Forby's isn't tung oil and doesn't contain tung oil. It isn't an oil/varnish mix. It is a wiping varnish, that may be based on tung oil, but thats not at all clear from what little I have been able to find on-line. Formby's doesn't appear very proud of its raw material list.

  4. #4
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    I have used alot of Formby's "Tung Oil Finish". Steve is right about it being a wiping varnish, which isn't a bad thing. It just takes alot of coats to build a good film.
    Also manufactures are not required to devolge(sp) the formula's for there products because that is really what they are selling you.

    Richard

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Schoene
    Forby's isn't tung oil and doesn't contain tung oil. It isn't an oil/varnish mix. It is a wiping varnish, that may be based on tung oil, but thats not at all clear from what little I have been able to find on-line. Formby's doesn't appear very proud of its raw material list.
    I like the results I get from Formby's so I am not too concerned about the ingredients in the can. However, the can on the desk next to me says, "Formby's Tung Oil Finish is a high-quality varnish made from a balanced blend of tung oil and other fine penetrating oils." Going by that description I would come to the conclusion that Formby's does indeed contain tung oil.

  6. #6
    Ted,

    Tung Oil is a finish. It's just not very durable and requires occassional "re-treatment" or waxing. Tung Oil will need to be thinned with Mineral Spirits for the best overall penetration into the wood. A thin oil will cure faster than a standard non-thinned oil. Just be aware that the cooler the temps, the longer the cure time.....example would be that I did a BLO finish on a box last winter and it took 3 weeks to cure enough to put a topcoat on it. So now, I know better to do an oil finish in a cold shop.
    Thanks & Happy Wood Chips,
    Dennis -
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  7. #7
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    Troy

    What you quoted from the label confirms exactly what I said, that Formby's Tung Oil Finish contains no tung oil--only varnish made from tung oil and other oils (probably linseed oil.) Once there has been a chemical reaction between the tung oil and the resins it no longer is oil, nor does it behave like oil--it behaves like a varnish with about 69% mineral spirits content.

    This is not to say it doesn't do a good job, but only that it isn't an oil finish. It's more like Waterlox (also varnish made from tung oil and resin) than like Watco (a mix of varnish with oil (linseed) and thinner) and not at all like pure tung oil.

    My real objection is the deception involved in the marketing. Its really all just marketing designed to make consumers think there is something special or unique about products that are quite similar. There just aren't any "secret" formulas or ingredients as far as competitors are concerned, just attempts to mislead consumers. In the cynical marketing view "tung oil" is just an adjective modifying "Finish", and therefore it means whatever they want it to mean.

  8. #8
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    tung oil question

    I've used tung oil on sandblasted cedar signs, where the customer wants lettering/border painted and a natural background. It's nice because I can pour it into the sign and tip it all directions to let it flow into all the areas of the sign background, and it will eventually sink in really deep without hardening as a varnish would. It does need to be repeated every 1-2 years depending on exposure to sun.



    Sammamish, WA

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  9. #9
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    Steve,

    I understand you point and I agree that manufacturers like to put "Tung Oil" on their labels to help sell product. However, I do disagree with your claim that a product can be made from tung oil and then somehow not contain any tung oil. That would be comparable to claiming that bread doesn't contain any wheat, it is just make from it. Having said all of this I will agree that chemically speaking you are correct about the lack of tung oil in Formby's. I guess it is a matter of semantics really, but it just sounds odd to me that a main ingredient can be absent in the finished product.

  10. #10
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    Troy,

    You are exactly right, it is a matter of symantics, but I think it is a distinction that should be made, because of how differently the product works compared to pure tung oil. It just lets manufacturers get away with such labeling flummery. By the same rule just about every varnish maker could label their product "Linseed Oil Finish".

  11. #11
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    Troy, even more flagrent example of marketing is Minwax Tung Oil Finish. It contains absolutely no real tung oil. It's a mixture of varnish and linseed oil.

    Here is something I put together for a woodworking club newsletter a few years ago. It is still relevent and may help getting through the "marketing" hype.

    True tung oil comes from the nuts of a tree in China--and some other parts of the world. A product that is a true tung oil will have a label that says either "pure" or "100%". If it doesn't say that on the label, IT ISN'T TRUE TUNG OIL. Forget about all the other baloney and look for one of those two words if you want to use a true tung oil. If the label contains any other chemicals, except a thinner, you are not getting a true tung oil.

    "Tung Oil Finish" is a marketing expression for products that the manufacturer thinks will give you a finish like the finish you get from a true tung oil. These "Tung Oil Finishes" may or may not contain some true tung oil, but most do not contain any true tung oil. Their only claim to the use of the word "tung" is that it claims to give you the appearence of finish that results from tung oil. You're buying a "faux tung oil finish".

    There are two types of "tung oil finishes". One is mixture of varnish, boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits (called an oil/varnish). The exact mixtures are proprietary but 1/3, 1/3, and 1/3 will get you real close. Some manufacturers add a dollop of drier to speed up the drying. This same mixture is frequently also called "Danish Oil" because it gives a finish that resembles the finish used on much of the "danish style" teak furniture imported in the 50's and 60's. It closely mimics a true oil finish but the addition of the varnish resins gives it more durability and protection.

    Here are some oil/varnish mixtures*)
    Deft Danish Oil
    General Finishes' Sealacell
    Behlen Danish Oil
    Maloof Finish
    Behr Scandinavian Tung Oil Finish
    Minwax Tung Oil Finish
    Minwax Antique Oil Finish
    Velvit Oil
    Watco Danish Oil
    McCloskey Tung Oil Finish (contains pure tung oil, not linseed oil)

    The second "tung oil finish" is one made from varnish and mineral spirits. The approximate ratio is 1:1. This is really just a thinned varnish just like the stuff sold as "wiping varnish". When one two or three coats are applied, it also mimics the finish produced by a true oil but it is harder than the oil/varnish above because it does not have as much oil. It is slightly more protective than the oil/varnish type or tung oil finish. For all intents and purposes it is a varnish finish.

    Here are some thinned varnishes*)
    Minway Wiping Varnish
    Watco Wiping Varnish
    Formby's Tung Oil Finish
    Zar Wipe-on Tung Oil
    Val-Oil
    Hope's Tung Oil Varnish
    Gillespie Tung Oil
    Waterlox
    General Finishes' Arm R Seal
    Jasco Tung Oil

    One way to tell whether the product is an oil/varnish or a wiping varnish is to read the application instuctions. Oil/varnishes are applied, then given some time to set, then wiped dry. Wiping varnish products are wiped on an left to dry (no wiping off).

    For either of the above, you can mix your own using your own proportions, can it and sell it as "My Greatest Tung Oil Finish". Then announce a new product with slightly different proportion and call it "My Greatest Danish Oil Finish". We're not talking rocket science here.

    Finally, I'm not saying that any of these products are not good. In fact, they are a more protective and durable finish than any pure oil finish. They are what they are and can give you a good finish when properly applied.

    (*) Thanks to Bob Flexner "Understanding Wood Finishes"
    Howie.........

  12. #12
    Hi Steve. I have heard that said that Forby's does not contain tung oil but it is advertized that it does:
    Tung Oil Finish: A high quality varnish made from a balanced blend of tung oil and other fine penetrating oils.



  13. #13
    Hi Guys. I have been reading this thread and thought I should get the answer from those who make it-Formby's
    Here is there tech department answered:

    10/18/2013 10:24:48 AM [Agent Note]

    Dear Jim,

    Thank you for taking the time to contact FormbyBs. We appreciate your interest in our products.

    It does contain Tung Oil along with mineral spirits. It is a Tung Oil Finish, not 100% Tung Oil.

    I hope this information is helpful. Please respond back if you require additional assistance.

    Regards,

    Craig
    FormbyBs Product Support

    Like wheat bread.........it does contain wheat!

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