Tung Oil help asap

I have read all the threads on gunnel care, but have a quick question that I need answered asap.

On the bottle of tung oil it says to use a steel wool refinishing pad after the tung oil dries (generic instructions). I am assuming this is not for gunnel care, but just looking for advice on that.


My wife is the one who does ours
All she does it puts it on, and then when it dries, she just give it a light rubbing with an old face cloth.

Depending on how long between times, sometimes she gives it several coats.

It has worked great for her for many years, and they always look good

Jack L

What product are you using?
Most “tung oil” products on the market contain little or no tung oil and are actually wiping varnishes. Unless the bottle says it’s 100% tung oil, it could be anything.

That said, using steel wool or 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper as an applicator will create a very smooth finish. Going over the surface with it afterward will remove any gloss (a telltale sign that a product is wiping varnish) and produce a surface that looks and feels like an oil finish.

Ditto what Jack said
I put it on wipe off the excess,and when dry rub with a rag.I do this fairly often after washing the boat. I do the same for my cedar Greenland paddle.

Steel wool is problematical. Small pieces break off and lodge in wood grain and varnish, then turn black when moistened. Better to use a 3M scruffy pad if material needs be removed.

I use prue tung oil
And never use steelwool for the reason C. E. Wilson stated.

I prefer
Outdoor water based polyurethane–particularly Varathane Spar Urethane. It doesn’t amber, it’s very tough and dries to the touch in five minutes. It will raise the grain on the first couple of coats, but a light sanding between coats will take care of that. I generally use 6 to 8 coats. This stuff is really easy to work with and the results are stunning.

This of course is not an oil finish. I also prefer the gloss.

Thanks! And, paddle question
Thanks for all the answers and advice. I am giving my babies a bath. I love my canoes.

Can you/should you use tung oil on wooden paddles. I have some Whiskey Jack paddles that I thought about using on, but don’t want to ruin them. Any advice appreciated.

I Use Endust From Target
On my Whiskeyjack Double Bend 54" length paddle. The blade is fiberglass reinforced and the entire paddle is finished with some type of varnish. Endust cleans and polishes up the paddle real fast using an old t-shirt. Next, after removing all the crud and grime, I buff it up with paper towels for a really nifty shine that doesn’t slip. Use anything else and the paddle will slip out of your hands on the first stroke.

However, on bare wood shafts and grips, I like avocado oil, which I apply using paper towels. I avoid linseed oil because of the spontaneous combustion hazard.

If you are going to do it right
read this


Tung oil application is a LOT of work

Tung oil is easy
I have a lot of respect for Bob Flexner, but my experience with tung oil has been quite different. When I used pure tung oil on paddles, 4 coats, 24 hours apart, with no sanding in between produced a beautiful satin finish. It really wasn’t any different to apply than boiled linseed oil. Wipe on, wipe off, let it cure for a day.

These days I prefer to use a 50:50 blend of tung oil and varnish, which creates a more durable finish with a similar look and feel. I apply the first coat with a rag and intermediate coats using a piece of 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper. The final coat goes on with a rag again. The resulting finish is super smooth and really accentuates the wood grain.

Thanks to all!
Thanks for all the comments. I really appreciate it!! And, so do my canoes and paddles.

Last year was not a productive year for paddling & had a bad shoulder, so I am getting ready to make the most of this spring/summer!

I have an Independence (Gypsy 42) and a Pearl (Pearl) that I am working with the oil. I also have a Yellowstone (The Mud Puppy) and an old tandem (The Peanut Gallery) and a ww boat (Mito, short for Mitochondria).

Anyone else name your boats?

I’ve always found pure tung oil pretty easy and straightforward. Perhaps the author is working a finer grade finish than myself. Four coats a day apart, no sanding works for me. Probably picked that up from your book :slight_smile:

Your method of applying the intermediate coats using 400 w/d paper is interesting. I’ve a couple o’ canoe paddles that I’m refinishing the shafts on and I think I’ll give that a go. I’m now out of the pure tung oil thus will use a wiping combo I can purchase locally. I have to order the pure stuff in and don’t want to wait to do the paddles.