The "Pure Tung Oil" Topic...


Epic Member
Where did it go? I know there was one with the whole process described step-by-step, but can't find it back except for bits and pieces spread over about 100 topics  :-\

Hopefully someone can direct me to it, and if not, I have some specific questions:

So after I finished about 6 or 7 projects with Tru-oil, I wanted to give Tung oil a try. My order should be shipped in a couple of weeks, so I need to get myself prepared! :)
Now, I remember that not all tung oils are actually pure tung oil, so I need some advise here:

- So, what brand to buy and where?

- which filler and stain goes best with Tung-Oil?
I still have some water based filler left, and usually use either minwax or woodburst. will this work with Tung Oil?
and a special question for Troubled Treble: what color stain did you use on your Korina Strat?

- is there anything I need to do differently when having a body with a different wood as top? this one will be rosewood on Korina.. I guess Rosewood may not need filler, while Korina obviously does.. any good advise on how to approach this?

- when and at which point is it necessary to dilute the Oil, and what's best to use for that?

- what is the main difference in end-result when compared to Tru-Oil? I know that there is some type of synthetic hardener in Tru-oil, but will Tung oil get as hard and glossy as Tru-Oil?

- Can somebody remind me of the exact process? or post a link/copy and paste it from that topic that I can't find back.

You can get "pure Tung oil" from StewMac/Woodcraft or any other outlet that carries the Behlen brand, there may be other brands available, but that's pretty esay to find.

I've used it over StewMac water based grain filler and over MinWax oil based stains without any problems.

With a rosewood/korina body or any other combo that you may not want to stain both sides of, just mask it off with blue painters tape before staining.

I've never thinned Tung Oil; might allow the first few coats to dry quicker, don't know. I just always apply very thin coats and wait a long time to allow to completely dry.

Main difference I've noticed is that Tru-oil will ALWAYS dry more quickly than Tung oil; all other environmental factors being equal.
look up "pure tung oil"  and/or "milk paint" online - thats a good economical source, and I suggest the citrus solvent too for the first coat thinning (hint - about 4/5 citrus and 1/5 tung also works GREAT on fretboards, and is very similar to a well known bore-oil brand...)

filler - oil base or water base work equally well

different... just fill the wood well, as any grain impressions will show

process -

sand to 320 grit
repeat until filled totally
cut the tung oil 50/50 with citrus solvent
apply a heavy coat of cut tung oil, and let it soak in well... keep it wet and let it soak
after your satisfied that you have a good soak in, wipe off all the excess.
--> DRY FOR LONG TIME <--- several days to a week*
apply pure uncut tung oil, wipe off excess, let dry a long time*
repeat until you've got a build and look you desire
after the last drying, you can wax and buff for more sheen if desired

*Tung is a polymerizing oil.  It air-dries/oxidizes.  If you re-apply over another not-dry coat, you might get the gummies.  This happens because the new coat seals the air from the old coat, GREATLY slowing overall drying.  You want to WIPE the tung oil off so the body is damn near dry when you get done, then let it dry that way.  THIN as possible coats.  Build thickness with repetition not with thick coats.  Thin coats dry and cure fully and more quickly.  You can apply two thin-thin coats with drying time, faster than one thicker coat... which takes more than twice to dry fully through.

1 Cut the first coat
2 Wipe down really well between coats
3 Thin coating thickness.. thin as possible
4 Use many light and thin coats, and let dry well.

You'll end up with an heirloom finish if you do it that way.
Thanks so much CB and Jack! this helps a lot!
I will be taking my time for this, so hopefully no gummies!!

is there a need for a steelwool rub between coats?

I guess that a "mirror-like" finish is out of the question, which is ok. a heirloom finish will suit this guitar well!
does anybody have examples of pure tung oil finishes? especially over Korina?
So according to everything I have read, Pure Tung Oil has lots of qualities.  Its tricky to apply, dries incredibly slow, AND yelds a relatively soft finish.  ... so why do people put this on guitars again?
I've done several guitars with tung oil. I've always used the Formby tung oil. Like CB I use many thin coats and I always buff with steel wool between coats. I've been pleased with results, but then I'm easy.  :toothy10:
chuck7 said:
So according to everything I have read, Pure Tung Oil has lots of qualities.  Its tricky to apply, dries incredibly slow, AND yelds a relatively soft finish.  ... so why do people put this on guitars again?

It's non-toxic. You can drink the stuff (you'll probably have a bought of the greenapple two-step, ust like if you drank olive oil.) Also, some people like the feel and the look.
chuck7 said:
So according to everything I have read, Pure Tung Oil has lots of qualities.  Its tricky to apply, dries incredibly slow, AND yelds a relatively soft finish.  ... so why do people put this on guitars again?

Its not tricky to apply.  Just apply it thin.  It does dry slow, apply it thin.  And the finish is soft_feeling, not soft.  The final finish is fairly resiliant.  It smells great when you use it.  It cleans up easily.  It doesn't stink the folks out of the house.  Its "touch dry" rather quickly, but needs more time to really cure over.  Its easy to repair.  It holds up to use.  And it feels GREAT on playing on silk.
-CB- said:
after the last drying, you can wax and buff for more sheen if desired

Alright, I waited about 2-3 weeks after the final coat and want to put some wax on now.
What would be the best kind/brand wax to apply over Tung oil?
Butcher's White Diamond Paste Wax or Butcher's Boston Polish both work great.  They are the same, with Boston Polish having a very slightly amber tint added, while White Diamond is a "white" (clear) polish.

Personally... I'd go Boston (and I did!~)
This post definitely needs some bumping.....

Just received a bottle of Tung Oil and Citrus Solvent and the Butchers Wax is on the way.

Can't wait to get started this weekend on the neck.

Thanks for the great info CB.  :eek:ccasion14:
I would add this, I tried the steel wool between every few coats, never again, steel wool breaks apart into very fine particles and may go un noticed till its a few coats deep, don't use steel wool, except for maybe your last coat.

steel wool is bad stuff, sure it feels great, and buffs your last coat fine, but it's a mess.

I actually just use lint free paper towels between coats, or every couple coats, and that works well, alls you wanna do is knock down the high / rough spots anyway
I used cheesecloth to apply the coats.  So far so good.

First coat - 1/5 oil - 4/5 solvent, let dry for 48 hours (even though it felt and looked dry after 24)

Second coat - 1/2 oil - 1/2 solvent (letting dry for 48 hours)

Third coat will be 100% oil and let dry before waxing.

I'll post up pics in the 'work in progress' section when this is done.

edit...  may need another 2-3 coats to build up some thickness.  Glad I'm not in a hurry to get this done.
FWIW - Per the 'Real Milk Paint' company, each coat of their 100% pure tung oil takes about 10-15 days to cure in an ideal drying environment.  Thinning it will dry faster based on the mixture. Add days for deeper pores and grains that have been filled with the oil and even more days for areas with higher humidity.  Denser woods should use at the least a 1:1 mix with a thinner of some sort (citrus solvent) as using only the tung oil may not penetrate as well and in actuality just sit on the surface unless rubbed in very well.  Always buff out the excess and any amounts that may bleed out over the curing period (at least daily if not more).

Also, they said putting a fan on the item does nothing, so save the energy costs.

Just passing along the info that was given to me.....

My $0.02, make sure you dont need to put a guitar together in a hurry if you want to use pure tung oil.  This is a lengthy process if you want to do it right (possibly over the course of months).  But it looks and feels great.