After a second coat of tung oil my desk came out looking like this:
I chose tung oil to achieve that very warm woody matte finish and
instead I got this blotchy surface. (It is not sticky or rough - so
it's not a major disaster.)
What steps do I need to take to fix this? Like I said, I'd like to
achieve a very warm matte finish (sort of like nakashima).
Thank you very much in advance!
Pretty wood, what is it?
Oil is supposed to soak in a bit, and that's it. It is not intended to form
a film. If your first application was proper, it saturated the wood; there
is no place for the second application to go.
You can try buffing, but I have never been successful with it.
If it were my project I would sand it gently with 320 and put some
polyurethane on it, then take the gloss off with steel wool; but you might
not like polyurethane.
I the steps that you outlines, what would be the purpose of sanding
with 320 - to help polyurethane take hold?
And you are suggesting poly primarily for protection or for the matte
look (post wool steel)?
Also, what grit steel wool?
If you have the oil on too thick, and I expect you do, you can't expect poly
to adhere to it very well. Sanding will take care of that, and hopefully
get off the extra oil. Wait a week to be sure it is dry; as sanding wet oil
is a mess.
Oil is almost purely for visual effect; it gives no particular protection.
Someone below said you need to put several more coats of oil on it. A thick
layer of dried oil isn't my idea of a good finish, but each to his own.
Use very fine steel wool on the poly. If you are careful you can get it as
matte, and even, as you would like.
Izzat peeled veneer? Looks like it. Means the large vessels along the
annual rings are spread over a broader area, and things won't improve much
unless you fill the holes. You can do the tung and slurry method, sanding
with the grain and wiping across, or use an oil-based filler and stain to
smooth it out. You've got big vessels, small vessels, and those rays are
virtually no vessels, so it's going to look uneven unless you make an
I've had the same results early in the finishing process. Don't
despair, just keep adding coats. Some of the wood has absorbed all
the finish it will, and that part is shiny. Other parts have not
become saturated yet and those parts are dull. If you keep adding
coats, eventually all the wood will have taken all the finish it wants
and it will be uniformly shiny. Then buff with steel wool until you
get the matte finish you're looking for.
"If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a
nail." - Abraham Maslow
One note on Tung Oil. It will take a few weeks to stop weeping, so be
careful of what you put on the top as it will stain the cloth. Also no
liquids on the top to avoid the white stains from tap water.
With oak you have hard rings and soft rings, these will absorb the tung oil
differently. What brand of tung oil did you use? Look at all the
ingredients, and I bet it is not close to 100% tung oil. Did you thin the
first coat 50/50?
Tung oil is a good ingredient, but a poor finish used on its own. It's
hard to use and it's not as good a finishing material as a commercial
blend based on it. Why did you choose it?
What sort of finish were you expecting? A surface film or not? If you
want a non-film finish, then you need to use a thinner oil than plain
tung, so that it really can soak in. If you want a film, then I'd
suggest an oild blend with added driers, so as to cure more predictably.
Your blotchiness is probably a variation in thickness leading to a
complete soak in in places and something of a film developing in others.
As usual for oils, try a wipe down (or even a scrub down!) with a
suitable solvent to even things up first and reduce the thicker areas.
Do this soon, before the film cures entirely. Test a small area first
to check solvent compatibility.
Then switch oils. Go for a blend of pre-thinned tung + driers, from
Liberon or whatever your US equivalent is.
If you want a non-film finish, then go easy. You might already be there.
If you want a film, then it's the same as ever - lots of thin coats are
the way to go, with adequate drying between them. You've got a month of
decent oil-drying weather left in my climate, but I'd want application
finished before winter. Then a good month indoors in the warm before I
rest anything on it! Partially cured oil is soft and adhesive.
More coats of oil, eventually rubbed to the final sheen with steel or
synthetic steel wool, possibly with a tad of wax.
** http://www.bburke.com/woodworking.html **
Had my black walnut come out identical to your oak. (nice wood). I used
pure tung over 0000 steel wooled walnut diluted 75% mineral spirit to oil.
Put on 3 coats waiting a day between coats. Then went to 50/50 mineral
/tung. Took 3 more coats to eliminate the blotches. Make sure you load up
the wood good so the oil soaks in and wait about 15 minutes to remove
After looking close at your picture and reading your post, it seems like
your not using a pure tung oil. You say it is not sitcky and because of that
and the appearance of your finish I'd say what your using is smothing that
is more like a tung oil-varnish blend. Alot of commerically available "tung
oils are really not pure Tung oil, like Minwax and Formby's. These formulas
are little more than a wiping poly varnish. If you are using a product like
that your problem is as someone stated below. Areas with lots of pores and
areas with few pores.The areas that have few pores allow the finish to cure
on top of the surface (glossy) and the areas. You have a number of choices.
1. Leave it alone and knock down the gloss with 0000 steel wool. (not my
2. Strip it all off and fill the pores then start over with another finish.
(at this point, I wouldn't want to do that either.)
3. Continue with what others have suggested. I personally like the slurry
idea, it will fill the pores.
About 15 years ago I read an article ( In Wood, I think) about a homemade
finish called "LTV" and I swear by it. It's equal aprts of BOILED linseed
oil, Turpentine, and varnish. I have used it many times and it gives a real
nice finish similar to what I think you are looking for. I have a cherry
coffee table I made back in 1992 and the finish still looks great. The good
thing about it is its pretty easy to repair as well. (My kids are now 13 and
15 and this table finish has survived their toddler years and school home
work to mow.
I've seen a number of references to a similar type of finish.
Everywhere from here in rec.woodworking to books such as Great Wood
Finishes by Jeff Jewitt. I have no problem figuring out what
specific vendor's products I might use for the BLO or Turpentine
parts, but I'm not sure what's a good product to use for the varnish
part. What vendor's varnish do you use or recommend?
: Pages 50-51.
If you want to reply via email, change the obvious words to numbers and
I pulled out the old article to make sure. Its in Wood magazine SEP 1992
Issue 54. Anyway, you can use poly or traditional varnish. My notes say I
used traditional but for the life of me I can't remember the brands I've
used. More than likely I got it from the big box store. One thing you need
to do before the LTV process is put on a sealer coat of WATCO Danish oil or
some other poymerizing oil, such as Behlen's Danish oil. This prevents the
Linseed from getting down too deep in the poers and not curing before the
varnish cures. You also slurry wet sand each coat if your doing a table top.
I can scan the article and email it to you if you like.
I've had problems with using oil added to thinned varnish from McCloskey's.
The stuff wouldn't dry. For months! So I stopped adding oil to it, and it
worked pretty well.
I'm not chemist. Neither do I play one on television. Neither do I wish
for my woodowrk to sit in a spare bedroom for months drying out, and
expalining to LOML why it smells badly in there.
I use McCloskey's a lot, thinned 25-35% with naptha, and wiped on. Various
blends behave differently, but all are pretty nice.
Good luck with your project!
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.