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Thread: Tung oil or BLO

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Marshall, NC
    Posts
    281

    Tung oil or BLO

    I've made quite a few planes and handles, especially here lately, and I've always slapped varnish on them. This has worked good so far, but I've heard good things about using tung oil and BLO to protect them. I would like to know which one would be best to use on handles and planes, or should I keep using varnish?
    I was once a woodworker, I still am I'm just saying that I once was.

    Chop your own wood, it will warm you twice. -Henry Ford

  2. #2
    I think this is mostly a matter of taste (or more precisely, a matter of touch, since some don't like the fell of varnish on a handle, some do, and some don't know the difference). If you use BLO, it will darken over time. Tung oil is slow to cure, but darkens little. Oil varnish blends, like TruOil are quite popular and many think they provide the best of both oils and varnish with little of the demerits of either.

    Do what you like best. Planes are working tools and protecting them with a finish is a bit of a hopeless cause any way. The will suffer dings and scratches in normal use and develop character and look well used and well loved. Over time,that's called "patina."

    Carry on.
    Fair winds and following seas,
    Jim Waldron

  3. #3
    I have rehabbed a few old Stanleys and I used BLO on all of them. Would I do it again? Probably not.

    BLO seems to attract a lot of dirt, dust and other muck, and seems to remain fairly greasy for a while after. OK if you’re not planing on using the planes for a while, but if the use is more immediate, you dont want the mess contimanting the wood you’re working on.

    Plus the protective qualities from BLO arent as great as we would be led to believe, IMO.
    Last edited by Dom Campbell; 04-17-2018 at 8:46 AM.

  4. #4
    I've always used shellac and wax. Repeatable, repairable, protective, and feels good to the hand.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
    Posts
    17,153
    Between tung oil and BLO, my choice would be tung oil since it dries smoother without looking dirty over time.

    For most of my planes with rosewood handles my preference is a furniture polish, Howards Feed & Wax. It is a blend of oil and wax which one could make themselves.

    Other than this often my handles are left bare. The cherry handle on my mallet has taken quite a high polish from my hand rubbing it when it is being used.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  6. #6
    Varnish is my choice. Dom Campbell stated my opinion of BLO very well.

    Doug

  7. #7
    I'm not a big fan of those partially curing oils as a finish: tung, linseed (raw or boiled), Watco, etc. They always seem to stink and stay oily much longer than I care for. Definitely wouldn't be my choice for a tool handle. I'd probably go for shellac or maybe varnish.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Australia
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    2,164
    but I've heard good things about using tung oil and BLO to protect them.
    It depends on the species of timber your working with. Lighter coloured timbers, such as beech and applewood tend to improve in appearance after Linseed Oil is applied. For darker species of timbers, Tung Oil would be a better choice.

    manufacturers stained/varnish finish on applewood.


    Linseed Oil Finish.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Borger, Texas
    Posts
    925
    I have used spray lacquer on saw handles, when in a hurry, followed by paste wax. I think it works fine.

    If not in a hurry I use Poly Urethane. Very tough stuff, and I think it looks good. This too followed by paste wax. On the first hand saw I restored I used Poly U., that was over 40 years ago, and the Poly U is still in excellent shape, and has not noticeably discolored, very tough stuff that PolyU.

    One other thing I have used is a single coat of linseed or Danish oil (I have used both and like both), wiping off every bit I can after it sets a spell. After it dries thoroughly, and it does in a couple or three day if only one light coat is used and it is wiped off well, I go over it with Poly U and finally paste wax. It makes a tough finish and the oil brings out the grain nicely. I think it gives a nice look to the color of the wood also.

    One thing I will NEVER do is use linseed or any other oil on an old Stanley plane I am restoring. I did that ONE time and the rosewood turned almost jet black, and I learned later that such will almost always turn rosewood jet black, never again.

    Stew
    Last edited by Stew Denton; Yesterday at 12:26 AM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Stew Denton View Post
    I have used spray lacquer on saw handles, when in a hurry, followed by paste wax. I think it works fine.

    If not in a hurry I use Poly Urethane. Very tough stuff, and I think it looks good. This too followed by paste wax. On the first hand saw I restored I used Poly U., that was over 40 years ago, and the Poly U is still in excellent shape, and has not noticeably discolored, very tough stuff that PolyU.

    Stew
    Hey Stew

    Would be interested to hear how you apply the PU... do you thin it/how much by?

    It’s an area I am exploring... on many of my tools i dont use a finish (i like the feel of unfinished wood) but I have quite a few japanese white oak tools which are turning themselves, and my hands, a nasty, dirty, black, so I am considering PU as a finish to keep them lookin a bit fresher, while also protecting a bit against movement.

    Cheers,

    Dom

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Vienna, Austria
    Posts
    148
    I want to widen the topic a bit... What finish modern manufacturers use? For example, on Veritas bubunga handles, or Lie-Nielsen cherry handles. That would be also useful to know in case of repairs.

  12. #12
    Shellac, wax, poly, BLO, tung.

    They all work. The trick (IMHO) is to sand up to a higher grit (600) and not to build any of them up. I think of them as sealers. In this way, they remain soft and comfortable, resist staining, and dry quickly. I finish handles this way and after a year, I can't tell the difference between shellac, BLO, or varnish - but only (like I said) if you aim for an in-the-wood finish.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Borger, Texas
    Posts
    925
    Dom,

    This is the 3rd time I have tried to reply, and have been kicked out of the reply section twice now, for whatever unknown cause, so this will be brief so hopefully I can get it typed before something goes wrong again. (I will skip several details I have now put it twice only to loose them.)

    In short I use a small fairly good quality natural bristle brush and brush on solvent based poly U. I normally have had to thin just a little. I do this by putting some of the Poly U in a small plastic container, Some thing like a soft butter tub works well, but I use an even smaller container often. My wife uses liquid laundry soap, and the small screw on cap for the gallon size container is just right.

    If the poly U is too thick i slowly add very small amounts of paint thinner or mineral spirits until I think it is thin enough. I made a holder out small diameter all thread, securing the saw handle with the all thread though the saw nut hole, the highest one on the handle and put on a thin coat of finish beginning at the bottom and working up. (I am now thinking it might be better to start at the top and work down so runs will be chased down the handle instead of back over previously varnished handle.

    I use thin coats, follow the directions on the can about re-coating, very finely and lightly sand or light to medium steel wool between coats followed by tack cloth between coats.

    After the last coat dries, I try to burnish bad spots with the back of one of my finger nails.

    Finally when dry I paste wax.

    It is easy to get the finish too thin. I think it levels out and causes the brush strokes to level out better if it isn't too thin.

    Stew
    Last edited by Stew Denton; Today at 12:34 AM.

  14. #14
    Thanks for the info Stew! Appreciate it (especially considering the frustration of losing the reply twice!)

    I am going to get hold of some PU soon, and will report back

    Cheers,

    Dom

    Quote Originally Posted by Stew Denton View Post
    Dom,

    This is the 3rd time I have tried to reply, and have been kicked out of the reply section twice now, for whatever unknown cause, so this will be brief so hopefully I can get it typed before something goes wrong again. (I will skip several details I have now put it twice only to loose them.)

    In short I use a small fairly good quality natural bristle brush and brush on solvent based poly U. I normally have had to thin just a little. I do this by putting some of the Poly U in a small plastic container, Some thing like a soft butter tub works well, but I use an even smaller container often. My wife uses liquid laundry soap, and the small screw on cap for the gallon size container is just right.

    If the poly U is too thick i slowly add very small amounts of paint thinner or mineral spirits until I think it is thin enough. I made a holder out small diameter all thread, securing the saw handle with the all thread though the saw nut hole, the highest one on the handle and put on a thin coat of finish beginning at the bottom and working up. (I am now thinking it might be better to start at the top and work down so runs will be chased down the handle instead of back over previously varnished handle.

    I use thin coats, follow the directions on the can about re-coating, very finely and lightly sand or light to medium steel wool between coats followed by tack cloth between coats.

    After the last coat dries, I try to burnish bad spots with the back of one of my finger nails.

    Finally when dry I paste wax.

    It is easy to get the finish too thin. I think it levels out and causes the brush strokes to level out better if it isn't too thin.

    Stew

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