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Tung oil, Teak oil, Danish oil, Tru Oil...AYE YAI YAI, what to use?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by GrizzlyBear, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. GrizzlyBear


    Dec 5, 2009
    Easy enough question. I have experience using Tru Oil on Ironwood knife scales and a couple gun stocks I refinished. Love the finish and the color it brings out.

    But what about these other oils I've seen...Danish, teak and tung? Do they work as well as Tru Oil? Do they each work better on different types of wood (hard, soft, hard/oily)?

    Just looking for what most people use and if it's universal enough to use on different types of wood.
  2. lonepine


    May 7, 2010
    I've used TruOil on a lot of handles but have problems with oily tropical woods. I plan to continue to use it until or unless I learn of something better.

    I've only begun to play around with WaterLox and don't have enough experience with it.

    I've not used any other oil finish.

    Good luck.

    AKA Paul Meske, Wisconsin
  3. DeBee


    Oct 15, 2010
    "Tung oil" may not actually contain any tung oil in the ingredients- you got to read

    I like Waterlox Satin Tung/polymer oil but it's hard to find- I used to be able to pick up individual sample packs for a buck- perfect for small finishing projects...

    "Teak oil" again no teak oil in it but usually a blend of boiled linseed and tung oils often very thinned to penetrate dense wood- might be better off soaking the scales in this but it might interfere with your epoxy under the handle.

    "Danish oil" is very thin varnish with asphalt in it to fill the pores. The darker shades contain more asphalt... Not recommended for this application.

    "Tru-Oil" is a modified linseed/polymer oil. I like to thin it and soak the scales. Stands up to hand sweat and scratches can be rubbed out with scotchbrite and recoated. I don't use it on stocks anymore because of the gloss and the difficulty rubbing it out but it's fine for scales if you don't 'build' the finish into a glossy mess...
  4. the possum

    the possum

    Jul 31, 2002
    I've been using teak oil on black walnut, and am pretty pleased with the results so far. It resists sweat & grime, yet gains a nice patina & polish from use, and can be refinished easily after getting scratched. I don't know if the teak oil should get all the credit, but so far the scales (on a full tang) I'm talking about have not moved, shrunk, or swelled in the slightest- you still can't feel the seam where wood meets metal with a fingernail. This is after over a year of riding around in my car, going from zero degrees in the winter to coming inside & getting all sweaty, or 100+ degrees in summer.
  5. tychoseven


    Aug 9, 2005
    I did a bunch of reading on this topic a few years ago and concluded tung oil was the best for my needs. It repels water much better than linseed oil finishes but admittedly it takes some work. First, you must have 100% pure tung oil. Next I mix the tung oil 1:1 with turpentine and soak the handle for 24 hours. Afterwards I wipe the excess off and let the handle dry for 24 hours. Then I flood the wood with the tung/turps mixture, rub it in by hand, and then let dry overnight so the turpentine can evaporate. It takes about 6-8 coats in total to build the finish. For the topcoat I use a wax made of equal parts tung oil, turpentine, and beeswax, which is warmed and rubbed into the wood by hand. I usually do 2-3 coats of this over consecutive days. Then it takes about 2-3 weeks for the tung oil to fully cure. It's lots of work but I only make about 1 knife every month, and the result is a beautiful and durable handle.

    I've heard wonderful things about Waterlox and I'll bet it's less work than pure Tung oil. If I can ever find it, I'll give it a try.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  6. H2oLox


    Oct 26, 2010
    Waterlox is available at www.Waterlox.com . Once on the website, you can also enter your zip code under "Where to buy" to find the closest distributor. Please keep in mind that we are reworking our distributor list at this time and making sure it is up to date. Quite a daunting task.

    Hope this helps.


    Chip Schaffner - Waterlox Coatings
  7. rayban


    Apr 14, 2007
    Danish oil was recommended to me by more than a few knife makers so I've been using it.
    I like the results I get on hard woods I commonly use...Cocobolo, Osage Orange, Bocote, Ironwood......
  8. Bill Hoffman

    Bill Hoffman

    Jan 2, 2006
    Waterlox every time. I've used it on woodworking projects for
    30 years or so. Never had a problem with it, easy to apply, easy to
    polish, easy to repair if the finish is damaged. Finestkind!;)

    On knife handles, I gently warm the wood, and hand rub the finish in.
    It builds in a couple of coats and dries hard as a rock. It resists skin
    oils and water.:thumbup:

    I don't own Waterlox stock, just a very satisfied customer.:D

  9. Troop


    Oct 26, 2006
    Bill, do you bother with the sealer?, Or just use the finish?

  10. Bill Hoffman

    Bill Hoffman

    Jan 2, 2006
    Just the Waterlox Transparent. 2 to 3 coats.

  11. Troop


    Oct 26, 2006
    Thanks Bill. :thumbup:
  12. GrizzlyBear


    Dec 5, 2009
    Thanks for all the suggestions thus far, I really appreciate it!
  13. DeBee


    Oct 15, 2010
    Waterlox also makes a marine sealer/finish. The sealer and the finish is the same formula basically- the sealer having more thinner.

    Be careful, some Danish oils and similar finishes aren't meant to be "handled"...

    Think about it- how often would you handle a table leg or a bookcase compared to a knife scale?

    I really like Waterlox- (phenolic modified tung oil). I've used it extensively on my rifle stocks, tools, and woodworking projects- excellent stuff but it's expensive, hard to find locally, and only comes in larger quantities. Still, you only really get one chance to seal the wood...
  14. Bill Hoffman

    Bill Hoffman

    Jan 2, 2006
    Actually, it's pretty easy to get in small quantities. Woodcraft Supply carries it
    in a 1 quart can. I bought some cheap marbles to add to the can to help
    displace air in a partially empty can. Keeps the finish from hardening up in
    a can. At the rate knifemakers would use the finish a qt will last until Satan
    can ice skate. (hell freezes over):D

  15. Phil Dwyer

    Phil Dwyer KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 28, 2006
    Hey Chip,

    I was looking at the Waterlox Original Satin Finish on the website. I see there are actually three versions of it: TB 6044 Original Formula; TB 6035 VOC Compliant (350 VOC); TB 6045 VOC Compliant (450 VOC). I have a few questions if you don't mind.

    1. Do you think the Original Satin Finish is Waterlox's most appropriate product for wood knife handles?
    2. How are the three versions different? In application and/or in performance?
    Thanks much, Phil
  16. DeBee


    Oct 15, 2010
    A quart will last a long time granted. I find the sealer lasts the longest- even if it skins over, you can break through the hardened finish and still get some good stuff...

    I can finish a knife handle with a Q-tip's worth of Waterlox! A well polished rifle stock at 600 grit only takes a few finger dips after the first soak.

    I'd recommend the original sealer- it's the thinnest and penetrates well where as other finished seem to just fill the pores. It's amber colored- pops the grain well but doesn't make the wood look like plastic.
  17. Salvatore2


    Oct 23, 2008
    I personally really like Tung oil. I find that it is good on woods that aren't overly pourous. Woods like Mahagony for instance, don't like using it on that. I've tried it on some African blood wood, some Zebra wood, African rosewood, Purple heart, white Oak, and Quina.

    I will say, I get a BEAUTIFUL finish on all those woods except the White oak and and Mahagony.

    The finish can be a little irregular with the purple heart because of the grain, but I find it more attractive, but with Quina and the two African woods, I've gotten a very consistent shine that is really quite attractive.
  18. bobbywett

    bobbywett KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 23, 2006
    Great Thread!!!!:thumbup:
  19. GrizzlyBear


    Dec 5, 2009
    Thanks! Keep up the replies guys, with so many different finishes available, it really helps to see what people are using and why they choose to use it.
  20. Phil Dwyer

    Phil Dwyer KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 28, 2006

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