Tung oil - how many coats is enough

red king

Junior Member

I'm on my 3rd coat of Tung Oil on my black dye strat project - how many coats of Tung Oil is enough?  It's starting to look nice and glassy already, so I think that 3 to 4 more would be good.

What is everyone's experience?

Also, I have a couple of little runs near where my mounting screws are attached on the back.  My understanding with tung oil is that you just keep on applying layers and it will level out.  Is that correct, or should I sand the little runs down first?


R :guitaristgif: :evil4:
  im not an expert  but i have done several projects with it and just love the feel and look .i guess there is not a standard amount of tung to apply . i think you need at least 8-10 to give good protection  and wear qualities . but you can put as many as you want. but the more you put on kinda makes it look more like a hard finish. if you put on 25-30 light coats it looks kinda like a poly finsh just not real glossy.///// i would sand out any large runs or lumps use a sanding block or a pice of wood to keep it level. go at it easy sand a little then buff area with soft lint free cloth. check and sand agian as needed. then apply as many thin coats as desired. the affected area will vanish. the best trick with tung oil is thin coats and to let it dry well between them.....
Same here! I'd sand them down lightly to level'em out,then I always buff the entire layer to try to get an overall even-looking sheen between coats.
Thanks for your replies.  I will be sure to sand down the runs before going to the next coat.  The wood is swamp ash, so there is some nice grain showing through.  It is a 3 piece body, but was matched pretty well before it was put together so unless you look really closely, you can barely see the seams, except for on the ends.  8 to 10 coats was what I was thinking in the back of my mind.  We've had some damp weather here for the last week, so coat #3 is taking its time drying.  When I rub the back of my finger on the body in one direction, it appears to be dry, but when I go in the opposite direction, it kinda grabs my finger a little, so I assume it is not quite dry yet.  Is that correct?

I will post pics when I'm done.  I'm going with a tortoise shell pickguard, Dimarzio Area '58's in front and middle, with an Area '61 in the bridge, and a Wilkinson VSVG bridge.  The neck is canary with a kingwood fretboard.  I can't wait to play this thing because it's been about 10 years since I've played a strat.

I'm already planning #2 - I'm thinking something like Jake E Lee's setup on the old Charvelized white strat.
ive found that even here in texas tung oil stays kinda tacky for about a 4-5 days. i just reapply it every other day even if it feels taky as long as its not sicky feeling i just double the rec. waiting time mine says on the lable 24 hours so i go 48 for good measure.  i also put 3 light coat on each day/time mor/noon/night. seems to work great for me the padauk guitar that i tung oiled seemed to get really hard about a week after last aplication.
Hey Givememytoys

You have some pretty cool axes.  Any pics of them all lined up in a row?

i have a couple but their taken with a 25 dollar camera ill take some this weekend and post a  family shot
To those that have used tung oil, do you just use 0000 extra fine steel wool to buff it out when you are done your final coat?  That's what alot of the literature online is telling me regarding tung oil.


i did this on my paduak body after it sat for about a week  it made it feel silky smooth to the touch and lowered the sheen. the black korina body i did i tried it with a .. corse terrycloth towel. this seemed  to do almost the same effect. a little more shinny but not as smooth. however as far as necks go use the steelwool. you get that raw wood feel with it. when ever you use steelwool just lightly rub it . then check it with the other hand for feel then rub it agian if needed youll krow when you have it right because it feels super soft and smooth  like you have put baby powder on it. thats the only way i can explain it. {{{{you should only rub in the direction of the grain}}}}}}} in the wood this will minimize the tiny little scratches.there again i did a final rub with a terrycloth towel seem to work great to me. thanks kayle
My latest black korina body looks done at 5 coats.....

Just reporting back....

I have sanded down the bumps and stray particles from the body, did a couple of touchups on the black and did another coat of Tung Oil.  This time instead of using a soft cloth, I used a 1.5 inch "dream finish" brush to apply the Tung oil.  What an enormous difference.  The finish is basically like looking in a mirror after just one coat from this brush.  I plan to apply 5 to 10 more coats and see how it goes from there.  I will post pics when I'm done.  I've gotta say though, it was much easier to apply the tung oil with the brush and the results were phenomenal.

I have found with the steel wool that it leaves alot of metal on the guitar and it can be problematic if you don't get it all cleaned off. I switched to scotchbrite or synthetic steelwool.

I have also found that with an oil finish, if you wipe the oil on the body in a thin coat, then with a "ball" made from a soft cloth, keeping the cloth ball damp with oil and using a french polish method going over the whole body again you can get a nice finish. It is important to not let the wiped layer get tacky before doing this. Start the polish method with where you started applying the finish. But definatley give it a between coat light sanding every 3rd coat.

Cant wait to see pics...

To RedKing - Where did you get the "dream finish" brushes you mentioned? I just did a web search and only find "Selleys Spirit" brand "dream brushes" available in Australia, that the one?
Here in Canada at "Canadian Tire"  www.canadiantire.ca

Any "fine bristled" brush intended for finishing purposes will do.  The fine bristles leave the tung oil as smooth as glass.  My problem is keeping stray hairs (we have cats) off the finish as it is drying.  I guess I'm going to have to give the basement a good cleaning! :icon_biggrin:

Alright, buddy, we’ve given you almost 14 years.

Could you please post the pic of that axe, or are we waiting for that last coat to dry?