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Tung oil finish

Discussion in 'Paddles and Paddle Making' started by ticonderoga, May 8, 2015.

  1. ticonderoga

    ticonderoga "Just one more"

    I have made a pair of paddles for every canoe I have restored and have always finished them with spar varnish with great results. For the last two canoes from this winter, I decided to finish them using an oil finish. The paddles are ash, were sanded from 80 to 320 grit by hand and sanders. They were then wet to raise the grain and sanded using 220 grit paper by hand. I did this wetting process twice. I then used Baer Tung oil on them; brush on, let sit 45 minutes, wipe off and repeat after 1 hour. I then let them dry for two days outside after which I rubbed them down and reapplied oil twice more like the mentioned above and waited another week before a final wipe down. I took them out today for a paddle of about 3 hours and while loading the truck, I noticed the grain had raised slightly on the blade from water contact. After the drive home the grain had lowered somewhat, but not to the smooth finish before using them. Any ideas on what I am doing wong and how can I correct this? Thanks for any input.
  2. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Varnish..., "great results".
  3. Cliff Ober

    Cliff Ober Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Oil finishes on their own, whether used for fine furniture or boats, do not impart appreciable protection to wood. Oils do improve appearance and "pop" the grain, but need a final film finish to limit moisture absorption and provide true protection.

  4. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I varnish the blades and oil the handle and shaft. Long ago someone posted they found varnish led to blisters (on your hands) faster. I actually use a guitar fretboard oil, which seems to have a very high gloss for oil.
  5. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    I used to have the issue of varnish giving me blisters. Then I started shaping the grips & shafts to fit my 9rther large) hands. Now it doesn't matter what finish goes on... no blisters.
  6. OP

    ticonderoga "Just one more"

    Thanks for the advice and comments, I'll just go back to varnish.
  7. Addison

    Addison New Member

    I've been using it for some years on vintage veneer cabinets. The popular formulas from Minwax and Formby's have a fair amount of urethane in them and come in low-gloss and high-gloss mixtures. There's also Danish Oil which is much the same thing and comes with stains or natural.

    Best results on veneer are obtained by using 0000 steel wool to rub the oil in and letting it set for a few minutes before wiping. 2 coats minimum on sanded veneer and more for additional sheen.

    Some people don't like the urethane because it makes subsequent re-finishing more difficult.
  8. kayamedic

    kayamedic Kim Gass

    Never used 000 steel wool on oil finish. I would think it would leave tiny metal bits, which on paddles might not be desirable. I don't wipe oil down. I rub it in with a scotchbrite pad. And do this five times.
    But I am not talking fine furniture. Just paddles and gunwales.( to be correct most of the paddle is varnished, but the grip and about six inches of shaft is oiled)
  9. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Yes, steel wool on marine finishes is not a great idea, which is why they make bronze wool, which doesn't leave tiny bits of rust in your finish. The green scotchbrite pads are as good or better and a lot easier to find. Personally, I've always found the old "varnish gives you blisters" stuff to be total bunk. Rough surfaces give you blisters, so keep your shafts and grips smooth and avoid beating them around. Over-gripping will also give you blisters (and also eventually tendonitis) so keep your grip relaxed. It's been shown that there are no sea monsters trying to pull your canoe paddle from your hands - so don't grip it like there are.

    I've oil-finished a bunch of paddles over the years (usually with Deks Olje #1 or Watco, which are both top of the line oils) and almost invariably I have eventually tired of the grain raising when they get wet and ended up varnishing them to be done with that stuff. These oils soak in and polymerize to some extent and it is possible to repeat the smoothing and re-oiling process enough times to get a sealed, waterproof finish that doesn't raise the grain every time it gets wet. The question is how many times are you willing to do it before you achieve that finish? I just eventually get tired of fooling with it and break out the varnish. I can get a fantastic, smooth-as-silk oil finish on gunstocks, but to do the same on a paddle that keeps getting dunked in the lake is much more difficult.
  10. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I have been finishing my paddles with boiled linseed but I have developed a trick that I think makes it more akin to a danish oil.
    Here's what I do.
    1.First coat is thinned 50/50 with white spirit.The oil spirit mixture is warmed in warm not boiling water and put on heavily and repeatedly to begin with whilst the paddle hangs over the container.Keep the paddle wet as it will soak up the oil to begin with.
    2.Next day a coat of neat boiled linseed is brushed on left for 20 mins or so and then wiped off.
    3.half way through the day repeat step 2.
    4.Repeat step 2 whenever the paddle looks/feels dry until it will take no more.
    5.Go paddling and repeat step 2.on the paddle and any others on the rack that look a bit dry.

    An important note about my brushes! The brushes I use for this are used for varnishing my canoes.When I finish varnishing I wipe off the majority of the excess varnish and suspend the brush in raw linseed oil.The brush is used for my paddles then goes back in the raw oil.This way a small proportion of varnish gets onto the paddles and eventually they develop a lovely shine though it is not a thick coating.Rubbing them hard with a dry cloth brings this up and I think the varnish element also gives them a level of protection.

    Having said all this it is a long process in terms of drying time and you do have to dispose of rags carefully because of the fire risk but once you get used to oiling your paddles when you return from a trip it becomes second nature.

    Now to throw all this on its head I was recently visited by a rep from .This oil purports to work with just one coat and I was given a sample which I am currently conducting trials on watch this space...


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