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Expert's Corner — tung

TIP: How to Avoid a Lot of Sanding with Oil Finishes

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It’s not necessary to sand above 180 or 220 grit when applying an oil or oil/varnish blend finish. You can achieve the same smooth feeling results by sanding each coat after the first while that coat is still wet on the wood. You are wiping off all the excess anyway, so sanding dust isn’t a problem. Here are the steps: Sand the wood to 180 or 220 grit, sanding in the direction of the grain. Apply a wet coat of boiled linseed oil, 100% tung oil, your own mixture or oil and varnish or one of a number of commercial...

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TIP: Tung Oil and Varnish Sold as Tung Oil

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Finishing is hard enough even without the mislabeling that is so prevalent on the part of many manufacturers. The mislabeling makes it difficult for us to know what we are buying and using. The accompanying picture shows dried puddles of two commonly available products both labeled “tung oil.” These two products could hardly be more different. The tung oil on the left is real tung oil, the oil produced from pressing the nuts from tung trees, which are native to China. A puddle of the oil dries wrinkled, and it never really hardens. You can always scrape it off with...

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This is Not Rocket Science

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This is Not Rocket Science

Back in the 1970s and 80s, it was common to see explanations of the difference between Danish oil and wiping varnish described as that between oil and resin-fortified oil. I couldn’t make sense of this explanation because the term “resin” is so vague. It commonly refers to fossilized tree saps such as rosin, copal and amber, and sometimes to synthetic alkyd and polyurethane. So, is one of these resins just added to the oil to “fortify” it, or is something else done? A further confusion is that linseed oil and tung oil are, themselves, sometimes classified as resins. So, is...

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