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Applying a Tung (Oil-Based) Topcoat

Materials List
Tung oil
Paint thinner
Vinyl gloves (disposable)
Sturdy drop cloth
Extra fine (280) grit sandpaper
0000 Grade steel wool
Tools List (click item to shop)
Paint Brushes
Cotton rags
Paint tray
Safety glasses
Easy2 Home Improvement
Applying an Oil or Water-based Stain
Bleaching to Lighten Wood and Remove Stains
Bleaching Water Stains from Furniture

Varathane Floor Finishing
Varathane Renewal

IMPORTANT: Read this before you start


Prefer a clear, hand-rubbed, "antique" finish to the shiny or satin sheen of varnishes? Then you will want to use a tung oil-based topcoat applied over an oil-based stain when you are staining or refinishing your special piece of furniture.

Tung oil is an easy-to-use transparent finish that is resistant to water, most liquids and mildew. However, it does require some upkeep. It is not recommended for a rough and tumble household or in high traffic areas. After a few years, you may want to freshen up your furniture by reapplying the finish. As this is an oil-based finish, it creates some fumes and therefore requires more care in application and clean up.

Skill Level & Time To Complete
Based on a medium sized table; cabinets with shelves and larger furniture pieces will take more time:
• Beginner - 4 hours over several days (Allow overnight drying)
• Intermediate - 4 hours over several days (Allow overnight drying)
• Advanced - 2-1/2 hours over several days (Allow overnight dry)

Wear eye goggles. Plan quick access to water for rinsing splatters if your skin or eyes are exposed to the oil finish. Use soap on skin. If the finish comes into contact with your eyes and persistent burning occurs after rinsing, seek immediate medical attention.

Don't breathe dust from sanding.

Apply in a well-ventilated area. Don't breathe fumes from the finish, and don't breathe fumes from the paint thinner.

Rags used to apply the oil are subject to spontaneous combustion. Soak them in water, and then discard them in a metal container as soon as you are done with them.

Helpful Tips
Thoroughly remove all dust and sanding dust from your furniture and from your work area at each step.

Buy small quantities of oil. Once opened, the oil begins to gel in the can. To keep air out, you can displace it by dropping marbles into the container, then tightening the lid.

1. Start with wood furniture which has been stained with an oil-based stain. Refer to the tutorials on removing old finishes, bleaching old stains, and applying new stains. Place your project piece on a drop cloth for protection.
2. Gently sand the wood with extra-fine sandpaper, sanding in the direction of the wood grain.
3. Next, brush away the sanding dust with a small clean paintbrush, being sure to pay particular attention to the joints, grooves and detail areas. Wipe with a clean damp cloth, and do not use a tack cloth. Eliminate all sanding dust from your work area.
4. Turn the unopened can of tung oil upside down and vigorously shake it for several minutes. You may need to recap the container tightly and re-blend by shaking the contents a few times throughout this process, especially if you are working on a large piece.
5. Begin by pouring a small amount of oil into a shallow pan. Using a small paintbrush, apply it to the joints, grooves and detail areas, such as chair legs, claw feet, beveled tabletop and other grooved areas.
6. Fold your lint-free cotton rag into a square and dampen one corner of it with the oil. Rub the oiled cloth over the rest of the area near the joints, grooves and detail areas, blending the finish as you go. It's easiest to work in sections, completing one section before moving onto the next.
7. Once you have completed the entire piece, allow it to dry overnight. Using paint thinner, clean your brush and any splatters.
8. After the finish has dried thoroughly, sand it with the ultra-fine grade steel wool. Use your damp cloth to remove any sanding dust.
9. Then, reapply the oil using steps 4-8, applying two more coats, sanding in between each layer with your steel wool and removing dust with your damp cloth. Allow each coat to dry overnight or longer, if needed.
10. To test for dryness, touch the surface with your fingertips. If it feels dry, you're fine. If it feels even slightly tacky or sticky, give it more time to dry. We recommend that you give at least three coats to ensure that you get a professional finish.



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