Tung Oil Finish on Ebony Veneer

Thin veneer presents limitations for oil finishes. December 10, 2008

We recently took on a project involving plain sliced Macassar ebony veneer and the client opted to have a tung oil and wax finish hand applied. The veneer was sanded to 220 and the first coat of oil was immediately applied. We are now on the fifth coat of oil, scuffing in between with scotch brite, and still do not have an even sheen on the surface. Does anyone have experience working with this combination or ideas as to what could be causing the irregularity in sheen? Also, the variation seems somewhat consistent with the grain pattern. We have to install the piece next week, so we are running out of time to figure this out.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor G:
Can't say as to that particular combo, but last time I used tung oil, I sanded the first couple coats in with 220. Are you letting it dry (cure) before the scotchbrite?

From contributor J:
Your problem might be related to inconsistent pore-filling by the glue when veneering. You should be able to discern this by visual inspection. Another cause could be inconsistent sanding before finishing. Remember that there is a barrier to oil penetration sitting about .015" below your surface: the glueline - any oil that soaks into the wood is going to be in that very thin range. This can be good for building with oil but has its downsides, too.

From contributor T:
We used to do this on guitars, so we did have thicker wood to work with. We sanded in the last coats of oil with 400 grit sc sandpaper almost like we were burnishing it. Then scrubbed it clean with a clean cloth. Lots of work, but the luster was beautiful.