this might help everyone out a little on this debate....this is taken from the
Sutherland welles web site.
"When turned into a finishing product, Tung Oil is the finest natural wood
finish in existence and has yet to be duplicated synthetically!
Man's ingenuity has created many synthetic finishes, including lacquer,
shellac, and varnish all of which protect wood with a hard impervious layer.
But these surface finishes prevent the development of patina, the lovely depth
and tone that only natural aging can produce. Eventually synthetic finishes
will break down and discolor, when that happens the entire surface must be
removed by labor intensive stripping and sanding before another coat is
Penetrating finishes formulated with linseed, soy or paraffin oils actually go
into the wood and enhance its natural beauty, but these oils often dry
incompletely and fail to form a hard and durable surface. Furthermore, they
develop a gummy build-up when additional coats are applied. Linseed oil, the
most commonly used penetrating finish, darkens and changes color with time and
A Polymerized Tung Oil finish is hard yet flexible, waterproof and impervious
to alcohol and many food acids. Polymerized Tung oil as a penetrating oil
allows wood to continue its aging process and to develop its patina. The wood's
rich color and grain are enhanced by the natural ambering (coloring) of
Polymerized Tung oil over time. Any sign of wear disappears when a thin
"maintenance" coat of oil is rubbed in. The maintenance coats, rather than
cause a build-up, actually improve the patina as they protect and preserve the
There is a lot more info there for anyone that would like to read up, this is
the best website I have found for info on tung oil. This might help weed out a
lot of misinformation being posted here. Also, keep one important thing in
mind, a lot depends on what brand of finish you are going to use. For example,
I would rather use a high end spar varnish then a cheap tung oil. Also, keep
in mind, for those who mentioned using varnish. We could go on forever with
this debate... Another factor, what kind of cabinets are these? How into wood
finishing are you?? Are you looking for quick, cheap, and easy?? (might be
good for a date but not for high end cabinets)
to each his own!
On Wed, 5 Nov 2003 21:52:08 -0500, "Mike G"
This has frequently been empirically true, but it's because of
different driers, not because of different oils
Linseed oil has fallen from favour and now tung is more popular
(broadly speaking). This has roughly coincided with fears over heavy
metals, and a shift from lead-based driers to manganese ones.
Now there may be some difference between the oils themselves, but
there's a _huge_ difference between the effects of these driers. Lead
becomes more effective in rising humidity and manganese becomes less
so. Above 70% RH, manganese barely works (one of the reasons not to
apply oil finishes in a damp atmosphere). If you study old
gunsmithing references (The Modern Gunsmith from the 1930s is a good
book and still quite common) you'll see much discussion of the effects
of either drier, or of mixing them, on gunstocking oil finishes. Bill
Knight (The Mad Monk) has also done useful research in this area.
Even after the finishes are fully cured, there are differences in
their resultant surface. A lead-dried oil finish _feels_ different -
it's often described as having a "leather-like" texture. It's also a
matter of historical record that the favoured recipe for waterproofing
oilcloth to make travelling chests etc. was a lead based drier. This
was seen as more resistant to water, and also as lasting longer when
exposed to water.
So there may be differences in the oils, and their relative tolerance
for water. But the type of chemical drier used is even more
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