Applying Tung Oil

A great Tung oil finish takes hand labor for rubbing in multiple coats. March 4, 2009

I am making a table out of a cross section from a very large 30" diameter sugar maple tree. It’s a gorgeous piece. It is quilting, spalting, and has a few nice desired bark inclusions. I do not have professional spray equipment. I am looking for recommendations for a finish that will not be a "raincoat" on the wood. I can't wax it because of the soft areas, inclusions etc. I always seem to see bad dust balls and streaks if I try a oil poly. Is there a good way to finish this gorgeous piece by an amateur without having brush marks, dust chunks, and etc?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor C:
I’m not familiar with the term - "raincoat". Do you mean a waterproof finish or one that is thick? If it were mine I would treat it with tung oil from Sutherland Wells Co. It is a polymerizes oil - three or four coats should do it. Make sure to follow the directions. It will require at least yearly maintenance if used.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. Raincoat meaning a thick looking poly coat. I have tried Tung Oil, and I like Tung Oil, however the last time I tried it on this wood the first coat looked good. Then I could not keep wipe-on marks or swirls from appearing in the finish. I am not sure why that was – maybe I was not curing enough?

From contributor C:
You have to burnish the tung oil coats - don't use a wipe on, set, wipe off routine. Apply by brush and then use a sander or buffer with green ScotchBrite pad to work the oil in till there's no excess left on then let dry and apply the second coat and so on. Too many people give up on tung because they don't know how to use it - even the companies that make it really don't give good methods but that way will work.