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Thread: Thining Tung oil - can I use any paint thinner?

  1. #1
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    Thining Tung oil - can I use any paint thinner?

    Flattened my first bench today (-: I have some pure Tung oil, on additives. the container says thin with "mineral spirits like pain thinner". I have "nitro thinner". does it matter much what I use? most economical solution would be Turpentine, is that ok ?

    Thanks .....

  2. #2
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    I don't know what nitro thinner is, but turp would work fine. Might not hurt to throw just a bit of beeswax in there, too. Or not, whatever your preference.

  3. #3
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    Run a test with a small piece of clear glass.

    A drop of Tung Oil, a drop of thinner - if they separate, that ain't great.

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    Turpentine is what I use 50/50. 3 coats and it will repel water very well.

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    Thanks guys! I found some Mineral Turpentine. says Mineral Spirit Paint thinner under the Turpentine label. looks good so far (-: it blended well in the cup. any idea how I can tell when it's totally dry and ready for the next coat? I read it can take 2 weeks to a month....

  6. #6
    You CAN thin tung oil with turpentine or MS, but you certainly don't HAVE to. If I were you, I would not thin it; apply it raw and neat.

    If you find it too thick to rub around on a broad surface, then instead of thinning, I would heat it gently (which will reduce the viscosity temporarily) and apply it warm.

    Don't be wooed by the 'if you thin it it penetrates deeper' theory. Oil doesn't need to penetrate that deeply to serve its purpose: mild protection.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    You CAN thin tung oil with turpentine or MS, but you certainly don't HAVE to. If I were you, I would not thin it; apply it raw and neat.

    If you find it too thick to rub around on a broad surface, then instead of thinning, I would heat it gently (which will reduce the viscosity temporarily) and apply it warm.

    Don't be wooed by the 'if you thin it it penetrates deeper' theory. Oil doesn't need to penetrate that deeply to serve its purpose: mild protection.
    That’s interesting. are you saying that it's better protection unthinned? I thought that the thinner evaporates leaving just to oil at the end anyway.

  8. #8
    You're right that yr left with just oil in the end anyway, but the only reason to thin it would be to make it easier to apply, then. Personally, I don't find unthinned tung oil hard to apply at room temp. You drool it on, slosh it around, then wipe it off. It's not like a varnish which requires an even, flat film to be applied. In that case, thinner helps with flow and bubble escape. While there's no 'adverse' effect to thinning tung, there's no real benefit - just a waste of thinner.

    In the end, to achieve the same level of sheen, you have to put down the same amount of oil. It just may take an extra coat or two with thinned product.

    As far as protection goes, oils offer minimal protection to the type of abuse a bench takes. All you're probably aiming for is to prevent glue from sticking. Once the sheen is even, the wood's fairly well sealed and it'll work.

  9. #9
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    Depending on heat and humidity, pure tung oil is normally "dry" in 24 to 48 hours during warm months....during cooler weather it can take up to a week or more.....
    Once it is dry to the touch (~ 24 hours or so -- see above), you can add another coat.
    If you are not already aware of this, you might be interested to know that tung (and boiled linseed) oil is a drying oil, meaning that it cures by chemical reaction with the oxygen in the air to form a long-chain polymer. Cure time for tung oil (and real boiled linseed oil -- not the stuff with lots of chemical driers) is around 35 to 40 days. And a bonus with both pure tung oil and BLO without the extra chemicals is that, once cured, it is food safe......

    Safety note: because tung/linseed combines with oxygen to cure, it releases heat in the process....so make sure that you lay your oil-soaked rags out flat on a non-combustable surface like your concrete garage floor, where there is plenty of air circulation, until they are dry, or put them in a bucket of water. Otherwise, you may have a very nasty surprise involving (spontaneous) combustion and firefighters at your shop.....
    James

    "Uke is always right."
    (Attributed to Ueshiba Morihei)

  10. #10
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    "Nitro thinner" -- if that implies nitrocellulose -- is likely lacquer thinner. That would not be what you want.

    Turpentine, mineral spirits, paint thinner, etc. , as mentioned, would be fine.

  11. #11
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    We coated our wooden tools with tung oil. It doesn't let mold grow on it. Some of the craftsmen in the historic area kept their tools in un heated sheds,and the tools would eventually get green looking if coated with linseed oil. In our air conditioned shop,we generally let the oil dry for 4 or 5 days. We never thinned it.

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    Thanks everyone, you cleared up most of my questions about this stuff. I guess I should only thin it enough to spread it, it's like thick syrup.

    George, how many coats would you apply to tools? especially planes?

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  14. #14
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    We just put on one good thick one,letting the excess run off into a tray while the rest soaked in as well as it would. This was not done to make a decorative finish,just to provide some protection to the wood against mold and rain if used out doors.

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    Can't thank you all enough for the great info.

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