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Thread: Mixing tung oil with poly

  1. #1
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    Mixing tung oil with poly

    I'm a novice at finishing, mostly use water based poly or lately I've had much better result with MinWax Wipe-on poly. I'm ready to start my largest project to date a maple king size bed, and I want to make sure the finish is right.

    I'll stain the piece with an natural oil stain to match the rest of the bedroom pieces.

    I've done a test of three different finished on a test piece of maple. Using steel wool in between coats.
    1. Tung oil only three coats
    2. Tung oil two coats, final coat wipe-on poly
    3. two coats of mixed tung oil and wipe-on poly at 50/50 rate
    I have used tung oil before but not for some time and it looks pretty good, but I'd like a bit of protection so I thought one of these other methods might be good. Any problems with this technique short or long term? Method #2 looks nice and from appearance looks to be the front runner.

  2. #2
    Michael,
    Sam Maloof uses a mixture of 1/3 Tog oil, 1/3 BLO (Boiled Linseed Oil) and 1/3 poly. I have used it and it give a great finish.

  3. #3
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    If the Tung Oil by itself does not meet your needs (and I'm making the assumption that you have "real" tung oil, not something that says "tung oil finish" on the can, but is really just another wiping varnish with zero tung in it... ), than an application or two of the oil, some time for it to fully cure (real tung takes awhile; BLO is faster and pretty much will look the same), and several coats of varnish wiped on will do the trick. There really isn't any requirement to use something with polyurethane resins in it for this kind of application since "resistance to abrasion" is less likely to be a factor with a bed. At least in most bedrooms. An alkyd or phenolic resin based varnish will generally provide greater clarity. Only my kitchen table has poly on it. (And strangely enough, it's not holding up to cleaning like the Target USL on the cabinets is...)

    Personally, I'd do the oil followed by shellac and be done with it. Maybe, I'd shoot some water borne clear over that if I felt some extra coating was necessary or wipe on some varnish as stated.
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  4. #4
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    Jim's schedule--oil (one coat is enough) followed by shellac is very good. Another alternative is Waterlox Original/Sealer. This is a wiping varnish that dries to a mellow gloss--not nearly as shiny as shellac (though shellac can be rubbed out to any sheen you want), but not a dull satin finish either. Waterlox also makes a Gloss and a Satin varnish in the same line.

  5. #5
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    First off my tung oil is not 100% it is made up of tung and linseed oils. So it looks like one of my methods is similar to the mixture that Sam Maloof uses. I like the coats of oil, but do think I need just a touch of protection, mainly from scuffs on the legs and such from the side of the vacuum cleaner. The one thing I might consider is the oil followed by a mixed final coat at the 50/50 rate.

    Great input, thanks.

  6. #6
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    What brand is your Tung Oil Finish? A great many of these aren't oil at all but varnish, pure and simple. (Formby's is an example thatis varnish, not oil.) They would behave like other thinned varnishes, so if you are mixing with a poly varnish, you are just mixing one varnish with another.

  7. #7
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    >> I'll stain the piece with an natural oil stain

    Let me add to the cautions. If you are referring to Minwax Natural Stain, it is not a stain at all. It's purely a thinned linseed oil with a touch of resin. It will not color the wood any more than BLO alone. There is no reason to use it.
    Howie.........

  8. #8
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    Howard, interesting comment about the stain. It's too late as it went on yesterday but what's done is done. It brings out the color and grain but like you siad that could just be the BLO working.

    At the end of the day all seems to be going well with the finish so far.

    I'll have to check the brand of tung oil to see what it is I have two so maybe one is a more "true" product.

  9. #9
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    >> It's too late as it went on yesterday but what's done is done

    It can't hurt and Minwax stockholders will thank you.
    Howie.........

  10. Jim,
    If I use a pore sealer on mohagony, will a BLO rubbed on take and should I do this? I then want tp rub on a 50% poly/50% mineral spirits. My projects is my first hardwood project which is a plant stand that will get occasional water on it.
    John Genzer

  11. #11
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    You can go directly to the wiping varnish over the pore filler. The BLO won't work well, since the pore filler has already substantially sealed the wood, and has already really accomplished the grain enhancing that BLO would often by used for.

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