A Finish with a Good Lick

I am not a fan of modern finishes.  I know with pens that I use CA glue, which is in effect an acrylic finish, but in that situation, it is durable and comparatively quick. In saying that, I am now wondering just how well this traditional finish would work.  It would require the pen to remain mounted in the lathe (or remounted for each application) for an entire week, but if the finish was perfection, that might be worthwhile.

But I’m getting distracted.

For some items a traditional wax finish works well, for others, an oil finish really brings out the lustre in the timber.  The (mineral) definition of lustre is very appropriate “a description of the way light interacts with a surface”, and some oil finishes on some timbers produces such a depth – a fully three dimensional effect in the surface of the timber.

I have wanted to try Tung Oil for a long time – I’ve seen it used on a finishing video by Jeff Jewett (Taunton Press), and it was an amazing finish for ‘just’ an oil. It is an oil that all others are judged by – a Tung Oil finish is used as a descriptor for other finishes, even those that have no Tung Oil in them at all.  China Wood Oil is another name for the genuine stuff, and dates back to China, and over 2400 years ago.

In the past I have gone for oils that have included Tung oil, but haven’t gone out of my way to seek it out in a pure form, so finding Organoil now have it on the shelf in Carbatec meant I couldn’t help but grab it.

Tung Oil

There was also Terpene, which is a distillation extracted from citrus peelings, and can be used in place of turpentine, including cleaning brushes, and for thinning Tung Oil.  Tung Oil is surprisingly thick, and is a nut oil that once it has been applied and has had time to cure (for want of a better word) it is both water and alcohol resistant – perfect for a hall table.

The citrus terpene allows better penetration of the timber by the Tung Oil, so I am using it for the first coat, but from then on will be using the Tung Oil neat.

The timber looks absolutely stunning, even with the first coat.  It dries to a matt finish, but additional layers (applied 24 hours apart) increases the gloss until a mirror finish is possible.

Mahogany table with a Jarrah river

Hall Table

And this is just the first coat of about 6

Even now, check out the contrast with the raw table state (before it was sanded obviously)

Raw Table

I’m feeling so inspired to finish this project off, and start another!  Once the finish is done, I still need to make a dovetail drawer and give it a lick of the Tung, but then I really want to see what else I can come up with.  Beating the procrastination with the leg of a Hall Table Fable!

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