The Chinese have used tung oil finish to treat furniture and make it water resistant and durable, since ages. If you are a DIY person, then knowing more about the benefits of tung oil as a finishing agent, will surely help you in taking care of furniture at home.
Tung oil is a bio-product, extracted by pressing the seeds of tung trees (Vernicia fordii). It is also known as ‘China tree oil’ and is used in woodworking. Furniture can be made water-resistant by applying coats of the oil. The term tung oil finish, refers to ‘the wet wood look’ or the luster that furnishing acquire, after the application of the oil.
Finishing With Tung Oil
Since the 1900’s, the woodworking industry has used this finish, all over Europe and the United States. Before the 1900’s, the woodworking industry, heavily depended on ‘linseed oil’ to make the furnishing water-proof. The drawback of using linseed oil, is that it darkens with the passage of time.
Tung oil is slightly golden in color, and with the passage of time, darkens much less than that of linseed oil. There are two reasons for applying this oil. You may do it to restore your existing furniture by removing bleach stains and scratches on it, or while applying a finish to new luxury furniture or office furniture.
1. You must take a few precautions while working with the finish, as every oil-based finish emits toxic fumes. It can cause irritation to the eyes and lungs. To avoid this, wear goggles to protect your eyes and don’t breathe in the fumes that are emitted. Use open and well-ventilated places to do the task.
2. Make sure that the wood you want to cure is free of bark. Use fine sand-paper to gently smoothen its surface. It’s always better to sandpaper the wood in the direction of the grain.
3. Repair cracks and deep gashes in the wood by using filler that can be used with oil-based finishes.
4. Use a brush to get rid of the fine sand dust from the wood. Be careful to remove all the dust while dusting the joints and grooves of the furniture.
5. Clean the wood using a damp piece cloth. Get rid of the sand-dust from your working area.
6. After the wood is dry, clean it with a piece of cloth soaked in mineral spirits, such as turpentine.
7. Prepare a mixture of tung oil and mineral spirits of equal ratio, in a wide-mouth pot.
8. Allow a paint-brush or soft-cloth to soak in the mixture for a while, before applying it to the wood. After an hour, wipe off the excess residue of the mixture.
9. If you have used the brush to apply the mixture, wipe it clean using a thinner. The cloth soaked with the mixture needs to be disposed off carefully, as the mixture is inflammable.
10. After 12-24 hours, when the finish has dried completely, using extra fine steel wool, smoothen the finish gently. Remove the sand-dust using a damp cloth. The drying of the finishing depends on the porosity of the wood as well as on the viscosity of the mixture, thin mixtures tend to dry faster than the thick mixtures. The finish may take as long as 48 hours to dry.
11. To get a professional finish repeat steps 8-10, multiple times till you are satisfied with the outcome.
You can also choose a commercially made polymer-based tung oil preparation as the finish. Following is a short description of how to apply it: the preparations are applied in a fat over lean fashion. This means that thinned tung oil, is applied to the sanded wood. Wood-pores soak the thinned oil very well, thus making the wood water-resistant. To apply a second layer, pure tung oil should be used.
The third layer is applied using polymerized tung oil. The wood is allowed to dry and then sanded and buffed, using fine sand-paper and fine steel wool, respectively. A damp cloth is used to wipe away sand-dust. Each layer should be allowed to dry before applying the next layer. The last layer applied is laid thick i.e. thick layer over thin layer. The drying tung oil, settles in a smooth glass-like layer, giving the finishing a professional look.
Treating your furniture items with this finish will protect them from most liquids and mildew. it is easy to maintain. Light stains and scratches on the finish can be removed by lightly sanding the wood and then, applying a thin layer of this oil. It is a great wood finish, that can give an elegant look to your furniture and also increase its value.