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Old 7th November 2011, 07:58 PM   #1
preiter is offline preiter  United States
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Default Wood finish question

In my past projects, I have been a big fan of using tung oil as a finish. I really like what it does with the grain.

On my current project, however, I would like something a bit more durable and I would like a semi-gloss finish. All of my tung oil finishes have come out very flat looking.

I have read that applying polyurethane over tung oil is a very bad idea, but that is basically what I am looking for. I want the look of an oil finish, but with a hard, semigloss shell over the top of it.

Any thoughts?
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Old 7th November 2011, 08:14 PM   #2
GOR3 is offline GOR3  United States
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What sort of wood is it?
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Old 7th November 2011, 08:20 PM   #3
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I've heard that using wax over tung oil is a good way to get some sheen. I haven't tried it though. I can't remember what sort of wax though.... carnubua perhaps...

I used howards orange tung oil (it is blended with orange oil) and it initially was very smooth and had a nice sheen, but iit became rough and dull after a few weeks. Still looks nice though

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Old 7th November 2011, 08:22 PM   #4
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Formby's is a varnish and tung oil combo. You might want to check it out.
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Old 7th November 2011, 09:04 PM   #5
preiter is offline preiter  United States
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The wood is walnut-veneered plywood.

I have tried wax over tung oil. Maybe I just suck at it, but after several applications it didn't look much different. Your experience with tung oil matches mine. It looks great when it's wet, then dulls a bit after it dries, then it looks really flat after a couple of weeks. I love the color and the grain, I just want it to be shiny.

I'll look into Formby's, thanks.

Last edited by preiter; 7th November 2011 at 09:06 PM.
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Old 7th November 2011, 09:27 PM   #6
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Oil finishes generally will not provide a lasting deep gloss or sheen because they tend to soak into the wood surface and are not building a solid layer of finish with depth. That also makes it easier to repair or restore an oil finish by wiping on an additional coat. A finish I like to use because it combines the ease of application of oil finishes with the ability to create a deep finish layer is Minwax Wipe-On Polyurethane. It is easy to apply with a lint free cloth and will build to a deep solid finish with 4 to 6 coats. I don't think it provides quite the vibrant grain pop of fresh tung oil but it retains a deep luster permanently, unlike tung.
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Old 7th November 2011, 10:00 PM   #7
chrisb is offline chrisb  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by preiter View Post
In my past projects, I have been a big fan of using tung oil as a finish. I really like what it does with the grain.

On my current project, however, I would like something a bit more durable and I would like a semi-gloss finish. All of my tung oil finishes have come out very flat looking.

I have read that applying polyurethane over tung oil is a very bad idea, but that is basically what I am looking for. I want the look of an oil finish, but with a hard, semigloss shell over the top of it.

Any thoughts?
I'm not a big fan of oil finishes myself - on speaker cabinet or furniture (i.e, 40yr old Teak dining room suite) - how about varnish or lacquer in satin sheen ( i.e. between 25-30 degree sheen) ?

For durability polyurethanes are great, and are available from dull to high gloss, but I've generally found they impart an unnatural "plastic laminate" look to solid wood or veneers - a conversion varnish or catalyzed lacquer gives a more natural finish, whether material is stained or not - they can really help pop the figuring / depth and coloring of grain, and except for damage repair won't need any maintenance. While I happen to have access to spray facilities, they certainly can be brushed.
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Last edited by chrisb; 7th November 2011 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 7th November 2011, 10:10 PM   #8
evanc is offline evanc  United States
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I like shellac with wax over it. Shellac dries quickly and is easy to wipe on. dewaxed flakes are available here:
Shellac
get some dewaxed ultra pale and some dewaxed garnet. Make a dilute solution and apply it by wiping it on. The garnet shellac will richen the look of the walnut, but if used by itself may be too dark. Don't play with it too much....a quick wipe with the grain and move on. It will dry almost instantly. After a few coats a bit of finish will start to build up. let it dry for a few hours and then go at it with 0000 steel wool and some paste wax. The wool will smooth the finish out and using the wax as a lubricant you will be left with a nice even sheen. This is one of the quickest nicest finishes you can apply. A plus is that if you don't like it you can remove it with alcohol.
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Old 8th November 2011, 12:18 AM   #9
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Watco Danish oil is extremely forgiving and easy to apply. It comes in everything from clear to walnut. Danish oil penetrates, but not very deeply. Watco makes a complementary Wipe-On Poly that gives a nice satin finish. You can steel wool it and put on a second coat within a day. If you want a tint, you can use the Danish oil underneath. If not, the Wipe-On Poly can be used by itself.

The manufacturer is Waterlox.
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Old 8th November 2011, 01:55 PM   #10
GOR3 is offline GOR3  United States
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Preiter, evanc obviously knows what he's talking about -- beautiful furniture, Evan -- I would just add one thing: While I start with Evan's shellac, for a more durable finish, I then will brush on 3-4 coats of varnish. I use Pratt & Lambert #38 clear alkyd varnish. I sand between coats with progressively finer paper. What this means is I can sand out brush marks or dust from the previous coat. The last coat is thinned about 15% with mineral spirits (ignore the labelís injunction against thinning). This means virtually no brush marks on the last coat. You can then use the steel wool for a satin finish or continue to sand from 600 grit on up for a gloss finish. Itís work, yes, but for those without a spray booth it makes for a good looking result.
Regards,
George
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