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Old 03-10-2017, 10:29 AM
sdb321 sdb321 is offline
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Default Tung Oil Finish

I just purchased a set of Ahrends grips from a member and I want to apply a tung oil finish. I have removed the poly finish with fine sand paper, scotch brite pads, and steel wool. Do you just rub the tung oil in with your fingers and let it dry between coats or what? Any info is helpful. You guys are the best!!!!
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Old 03-10-2017, 10:39 AM
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I have done several rifle stocks with tung oil and they turned out fantastic. First prep as you have already done. Find a lint free cloth and simply wipe the oil on evenly. Allow a couple days to dry then lightly sand them and reapply. Thats all there is to it. One good coat would do it, but the first coat always dries rough for some reason. If you lightly sand or scotchbrite the first coat the second will turn out smooth. After a couple of weeks to completely cure out finish with some good wax. I have found that plain old KIWI brown shoe polish will make it shine like nothing else. It will also shine the hell out of a good blueing job.
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Old 03-10-2017, 11:00 AM
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Question. Tung oil penetrates deeply into the wood. How does one make sure they have completely removed the factory poly so the tung oil will completely do it's job? I would think oil and water based poly don't mix very well.
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Old 03-10-2017, 11:50 AM
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A good overnight soak in Acetone should remove any poly finish remaining. Let it dry (it dry's quickly) completely before a light sanding and the first coat of finish.
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Old 03-10-2017, 12:07 PM
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Default Tung Oil Finish

Also note that the tung oil 'finishes' like minwax or formby's are not penetrating oils (they are fine finishes, I use both, just applied differently). To get the hand rubbed penetrating tung oil finish, you need to find some pure tung oil and thin the first few coats to get best results.

When I use the thinned tung oil for the initial coats, I don't let it dry for more than a day (depending on weather/humidity, maybe even two coats a day). Remember that it is thinned and you are using a small amount. I'll put a pea sized drop in my palm, rub my hands together to warm it up, then rub it into the wood.

When you get to full strength coats, you need to play around with dry times and buffing between coats. I rarely use anything more abrasive than cotton cloth or rottenstone.

One of my favorite finishes when i get it right

Have fun!

Last edited by Ruber; 03-10-2017 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 03-10-2017, 12:31 PM
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Use 100% pure Tung oil. Not the stuff available at the big box store. It's not real Tung oil, mostly additives. You want the real thing. Available at specialty woodworker stores. I use Old Masters brand 100% Tung Oil. Follow the directions and apply as many light coats as you like. More the better. Let it dry and polish with Bronze Wool between coats. Bronze Wool is superior to steel wool for this application.Finish with a coat of Renaissance Wax. You will be rewarded with some beautiful stocks. Sonora
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Old 03-10-2017, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by sdb321 View Post
I just purchased a set of Ahrends grips from a member and I want to apply a tung oil finish. I have removed the poly finish with fine sand paper, scotch brite pads, and steel wool. Do you just rub the tung oil in with your fingers and let it dry between coats or what? Any info is helpful. You guys are the best!!!!
Please show us pictures of your final result. What wood are the grips made of?
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Old 03-10-2017, 01:43 PM
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The Minwax Tung Oil Finish may not be pure tung oil but I find it to be an excellent finish for grips and kitchen knife handles , which get a lot of use and repeated washing.
I ordered Ahrend grips unfinshed and used the Minwax TOF , you can build up a decent finish with it and it dries hard. I prefer the stuff to True Oil now.
I apply coats with a small foam applicator, foam brush or just cut a small wedge of foam to use as an applicator. This allows a quick even coat. Let dry at least 24 hours before rubbing down and applying next coat. Three coats will usually do it.
The grips in my avatar are one of MWTOF Ahrends , the finish holds up very well.
Gary

Last edited by gwpercle; 03-10-2017 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 03-10-2017, 03:28 PM
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I applied pure tung oil to all my kitchen cabinetry.
Here's what I know.
Pick tung oil if you want a matte finish. It takes much time and effort to get a glossy finish. I like matte finish myself and that is what tung oil wants to be.

Tung oil cures, not dries. It's a SLOW reaction with oxygen in the air, full curing takes months.

How to apply - first coat is a generous application of tung oil thinned with 50/50 mineral spirits OR if you want to alter the color, a stain can be used as the thinner.

Let the first coat penetrate for an hour, then wipe off excess oil. Allow the wood to dry (thinner to evaporate) for at least 24 hrs. Scuff wood with fine scotchbrite or steel wool. Apply 2nd generous coat of Tung Oil, let soak in the for an hour or so, then wipe off excess. Set wood aside for cure, as stated above this takes time. Two proper coats are sufficient for protecting the wood.
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Old 03-10-2017, 04:02 PM
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Natural is better. I also avoid processed foods. Hey, but that just me.
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Old 03-10-2017, 04:12 PM
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I've always use 100 % pure tung oil from The Real Milk Paint Co. {www.realmilkpaint.com} and have had great luck on my military rifles .
Just follow there directions and you will get a great finish.
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Old 03-10-2017, 05:27 PM
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I refinished my dad's A5 about 40 years ago with tung oil. If memory serves me right it took 3 coats. I used fine steel wool between coats and then buffed the last coat. I put on a tune up coat about 8 years back and rebuffed.
Keep in mind this is a using shotgun and has been afield in all kinds of weather and the finish has held up great.
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Old 03-10-2017, 05:36 PM
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I steelwool the grips then apply the tung oil. No need to strip them.

I use tung oil on all my rifle stocks too. I put up to ten coats of tung oil on my hunting rifles.
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Old 03-10-2017, 06:25 PM
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Who's tung does the oil come from? Are there farms where certain animals or humans have their tungs milked? Or does the critter need to be sacrificed?
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Old 03-10-2017, 06:32 PM
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Good question. I believe it comes seeds from a tree that grows in Asia. No tongues are used. Ha, Ha.:
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Old 03-10-2017, 06:39 PM
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Who's tung does the oil come from? Are there farms where certain animals or humans have their tungs milked? Or does the critter need to be sacrificed?
Tung oil or China wood oil is a drying oil obtained by pressing the seed from the nut of the tung tree (Vernicia fordii). ... The oil and its use are believed to have originated in ancient China and appear in the writings of Confucius from about 400 B.C.
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Old 03-10-2017, 06:40 PM
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Tung oil comes from the nuts of the tung tree (Vernicia fordii). It is hard to find pure tung oil today, like others say, purchase some from the wood working stores or suppliers that say it is genuine tung oil and not some product made to act like tung oil. This stuff produces a very nice finish if you have the genuine product. I mix it with linseed oil for my stock work. both need to be "boiled".
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Old 03-10-2017, 08:18 PM
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WOW!! Thanks guys for the information!!! I feel I can do this project and the outcome will be fantastic! The grips are made of Moradillo wood and the grain is even on both sides and match up. Kim Ahrends makes some great grips. THANKS AGAIN . sdb321
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Old 03-10-2017, 08:21 PM
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Pictures ! Before and after. Sonora
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Old 03-10-2017, 08:26 PM
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The first time I saw a grove of Tung Trees , man I was confuse-ed!
This was down in S Miss and I thought that I knew Everything that grew around there.
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Old 03-10-2017, 08:40 PM
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Go slow with the finish. a drop on the palm. rub into the wood with your palm until hot. sit aside a few days to dry, repeat until you like what you see. The old hand rubbed oil finish takes 4-6 weeks to look great. I have done a lot of this decades ago to rifle stocks. Nothing takes the place of a hand rubbed oil finish to this old timer.
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Old 03-11-2017, 05:08 AM
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Trivia minute: Tung oil is also called (or used to be called) China Nut oil. It was used to finish the wood stocks of America's rifles and carbines in WWII. There were huge groves of the trees that grow the nuts and they were classified as "Strategic War Production Material" and were fenced in and protected.

The oil obtained went into large tanks that were heated and a mechanical conveyor system dunked the Garand and Springfield stocks and handguards in one end of the tank, pulled them submerged to the other end of the tank and then the stocks were hung up to dry.

My favorite sergeant made fine hardwood furniture with tung oil finishes on some as a hobby. Work in enough coat/dry/sand/recoat cycles and you can get an almost glass-like finish that is quite hard ad fills all the wood's pores.
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Old 03-11-2017, 06:57 AM
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I'm presently in the process of refinishing a set of Ahrends tactical grips myself. I had just bought a set of Culina stocks so I was able to take a set of cocobolo Ahrends out of service. I don't particularly like the way that Kim had squared off the front side of the grips, especially on the part that curves from the trigger guard back to the handle, so I took my dremel with a drum sander and a fine sandpaper drum and carefully reshaped that area as well as rounding out the squared off part on the trigger side of the grips.

I'm using some Formby's Tung Oil Finish. I know it's not a pure tung oil but rather a finish that has a bit of tung oil in it. I've been taking it slow while out here at the rig for 2 weeks and letting the finish dry for a day or so between coats and have also buffed them down with 0000 steel wool a few times. They are now getting to be looking pretty good, but I haven't decided whether I like them shiny or matte. If I decide to go matte, I will have to let them dry well then buff them down with the steel wool again.

One thing I wished I had done when prepping now that I look back would have been to finish sanding with a finer grit of sandpaper. I finish sanded with 600 wet or dry (dry sanded) but wish I had bought some 1500 or maybe even 2000 grit to finish sanding with before applying the Formby's.

BTW, after I shaped my Ahrends with dremel, I stripped the remaining finish off with some acetone, rags and a toothbrush. That seemed to work pretty well on stripping off the old finish.
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Old 03-11-2017, 08:14 AM
Joe Hohmann Joe Hohmann is offline
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I'm lazy. I just paid Ahrends the extra $20. for a Tung Oil finish.
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Old 03-11-2017, 09:38 AM
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Use 100% pure tung oil. Apply with a cotton cloth. Let sit for 30 minutes. Buff dry, let dry for 24 hours.

To apply another coat - brush lightly with 0000 steel wool. Apply tung oil with cloth, let sit for 30 minutes, buff dry.

Repeat about 5 times.

I've done many gun stocks and made canes from fallen branches. Works every time.

Did I say 100% PURE tung oil? Only use 100% pure tung oil. Not "Tung oil finish."

Last edited by Pef; 03-11-2017 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 03-11-2017, 01:20 PM
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Back in the late 60s & early 70s, I was working my way through college. I would go around to all the pawn shops buying 22LR rifles. Most, except for 10/22s and Nylon 66s were priced to sell, like $10-$12. All were needing rehabilitation to various degrees. Some, simply had been sitting on racks for a decade or more, others were sadly neglected by their previous owners. I'd completely disassemble them cleaning every nook & cranny. De-rust & cold blue all the steel parts. Not as good as a hot blue, but a vast improvement over what the steel previously looked like. IIRC I was using a product called 44-40. Part of the process was refinishing the stock. I would strip all the nasty stain infused lacquer off. It was amazing to find, in most cases, really nicely figured wood underneath. Most of the wood was beech. After proper prep, I would use polyurethane as a top coat. I used polyurethane because it was self leveling, came in the textures I wanted, gloss, semi or flat, and tough as nails. I would take these rifles to gun shows and sell them at substantial profit. I didn't rent a table, I just walked around with one or two or three slung over my shoulder. I had bought surplus OD green slings in bulk for these rifles. I bought 100 of these slings, paid like 50cents each. I quit doing this 22 rifle thing when the slings ran out. I pretty much exhausted the supply of 22 rifles in the pawn shops I frequented. And the pawn shop owners began to wise up about the profits I was making. Some of my rehabed rifles were beginning to show up at the pawn shops again. Now at a substantially higher price. The money I could make was directly proportional to the niceness of the wood. Rifle fashion at that time in history pretty much dictated a glossy finish.

I'm guessing I was breaking a federal law or two, but I rekon I never attracted enough attention for it to matter.
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Old 03-11-2017, 01:53 PM
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Before oiling, just to be sure, take some acetone and wipe/scrub the grips after your sanding to be sure none of the old finish is still in the wood and that all the dust is gone. If you miss a spot sanding the previous finish or it penetrated the wood, a subsequent application of oil will be blotchy.

I prefer to cut my pure tung oil 50% with plain old cheap mineral spirits (paint thinner) and apply successive thin coats with a lint free rag.
Let a coat stand about an hour, and early on in the process, you may find the grip looks like it's sweating oil here and there. Wipe this excess off and let it stand a while longer. When it feels dry, rub lightly with 0000 steel wool, dust thoroughly to remove the fine steel dust from the wood, then wipe on another coat of the dilute oil mix.
Do this about once an hour for the first day, then once a day for the next week. After several coats, a sheen will magically begin to appear. Stop the process whenever the wood looks the way you like. Let dry well, wipe on and buff a thin coat of quality paste wax. I often finish furniture I build this way. You will love the look and feel of the wood.

Last edited by ameridaddy; 03-12-2017 at 12:40 AM.
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Old 03-11-2017, 07:34 PM
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I found some 100% tung oil made by Hope's from amazon.
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Old 03-11-2017, 07:56 PM
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I think you will like the results. It's hard to go wrong. I finished a pair of Ahrends with pure T.O. and was very pleased with the outcome. I went slow with light coats, let dry and polish with Bronze Wool between coats. More coats ofT.O. the better.When satified, finish with a coat of Renaissance Wax. I'm a little surprised members haven't mentioned the virtues of Bronze Wool? Sonora
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Old 03-11-2017, 09:40 PM
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I'm a little surprised members haven't mentioned the virtues of Bronze Wool? Sonora
What are they on wood?
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Old 03-11-2017, 10:23 PM
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I learned about Bronze Wool here on this forum. Steel wool breaks down and can leave traces of steel fibers traped in the wood finish, which can oxidize causing stains. Bronze Wool is stable and at least as gentle 0000 Steel Wool, maybe gentler. It can also be used in combination with a penetrating oil to remove minor surface rust from blued firearms. I bought some at Ace Hardware and have found it very useful. Sonora
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Old 03-12-2017, 12:14 AM
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Just did my first Tung Oil finish on Badger Goncalo Alves grips. Ordered them unfinished. Used 100% pure Tung oil, only 2 coats over 3 days.

Here are the unfinished grips. Plaint wood and nothing else (Detective Special and Model 64)




Here are the finished grips...have not put them on anything yet.


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Old 03-12-2017, 12:43 AM
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....I'm a little surprised members haven't mentioned the virtues of Bronze Wool? Sonora
I'd like to find some bronze wool as fine as 0000 steel wool. The steel wool dust can react with moisture and mess up some woods because it rusts too quickly and can blacken some woods.
Where do you get it?
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Old 03-12-2017, 08:45 AM
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I prefer a varnish-tung oil mix made by Waterlox (Tung oil amount in Waterlox.). They state their product is 85% tung oil.

Here are some unfinished ahrends I got for Xmas:




And here they are after six coats. I need to add another now that they have fully cured.



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Old 03-12-2017, 09:02 AM
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A good overnight soak in Acetone should remove any poly finish remaining. Let it dry (it dry's quickly) completely before a light sanding and the first coat of finish.
I think acetone will soften poly, but won't remove it. At least, that was my experience last week, and it seems to be confirmed on the web.

Acetone is commonly recommended for removing finishes, but it can damage the wood. I prefer to use a finish remove (citrastrip or something like it) to remove a finish. I do soak in acetone if a stock has a lot of oil deep in it.

But to answer the OP's second question, I do not believe polyurethane penetrates the wood like an oil finish does. Polys are surface only, so if you sand them off the surface, you've gotten all of it.
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Old 03-12-2017, 09:39 AM
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After removing old finish and sanding I use mineral spirits on a lint free cloth to remove any sanding dust prior to applying the oil. After that has dried I apply the oil with a cloth, wait about 30 minutes and the buff it out. Depending on how it looks I may apply another coat.
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Old 03-12-2017, 01:15 PM
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I found some 100% tung oil made by Hope's from amazon.
That's what I use
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Old 03-12-2017, 01:41 PM
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That's what I use
Same, Hope Tung Oil. I've got a gallon of it in my workshop.

Comments about not using steel wool on light colored woods are correct because embedded steel particles rust. Dark or reddish woods won't show rust.

BTW, tung oil is a drying oil and the drying process is a chemical reaction that generates heat. Hence the rule about not having a pile of oily rags applies.
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Old 03-12-2017, 02:04 PM
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I've used LinSpeed oil and Homer Formsby Tung Oil. Both worked well. The more coats (after complete drying in between) the better.
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Old 03-12-2017, 06:40 PM
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Okay, here are some photos of some cocobolo grips I stripped and finished with 100% pure tung oil.



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Old 03-12-2017, 07:28 PM
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Okay, here are some photos of some cocobolo grips I stripped and finished with 100% pure tung oil.
The only time I tried using cocobolo wood with tung oil, the wood was too oily for the tung oil to set. It was a mess. I think this is a common problem with exotic hardwoods. I ended up just polishing the wood and adding four or five coats of paste wax.
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Old 03-12-2017, 09:19 PM
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The only time I tried using cocobolo wood with tung oil, the wood was too oily for the tung oil to set. It was a mess. I think this is a common problem with exotic hardwoods. I ended up just polishing the wood and adding four or five coats of paste wax.
Interesting. FWIW, I've done cocobolo a number of times with 100% tung and not had that problem.
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Old 03-18-2017, 05:09 PM
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Hey, I thought I would let you guys know the grips are looking GREAT. I've got seven coats of tung oil on them and letting them cure for a while. Next week I'll get some wax from Wood Craft in Indianapolis, put on a couple of coats and they will be done. I want to thank each and everyone of you for your advice. YOU "GUYS" ARE THE BEST!!!!!
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Old 03-18-2017, 05:16 PM
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Happy to hear of your success. We love pictures! Sonora
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Old 03-18-2017, 05:46 PM
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With help from my wife, pics will be coming soon!!!!
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Old 03-19-2017, 06:58 AM
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Hey, I thought I would let you guys know the grips are looking GREAT. I've got seven coats of tung oil on them and letting them cure for a while. Next week I'll get some wax from Wood Craft in Indianapolis, put on a couple of coats and they will be done. I want to thank each and everyone of you for your advice. YOU "GUYS" ARE THE BEST!!!!!
I would wait a month before waxing them to let them fully cure. The oil needs oxygen to cure, and wax will inhibit the process.
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Old 03-20-2017, 02:20 PM
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I have a couple grip projects in process.

K/L square as acquired,don't know brand/manufacturer.


Soaked them in lacquer thinner for about 5 minutes,everything came off. did it again to be sure.


Was gonna use tru-oil,but after reading this thread,gonna get tung oil.
grips are in process of being bottom rounded.
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Old 03-20-2017, 05:25 PM
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I just ordered two unfinished k/l frame grips from ahrends due to this thread. One for a model 13 that's on the way, and another for that round butt 22lr 617 mountain gun I got last year. i got that in Osage Orange, which should do well with the waterlox.
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Old 04-01-2017, 10:06 PM
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I finished sanding the grips from 2 posts(#47) ago.got them to the point I like them. Bottom 'rounded' and all sharp edges not in contact with the frame eliminated and smoothed. I like the feel of them on the 586 just as they are,the feel of wood. Is there any reason they should be/have to be coated/treated with something.

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