Author Topic: Tung Oil  (Read 6818 times)


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Tung Oil
« on: July 07, 2010, 05:53:57 AM »
  Good evening.
Has anyone used tung oil or a mix made from tung oil to varnish leather accoutrements ?
Trying hard to stay away from modern chemicals or products.
Any insight or input would be greatly appreciated for my research and reproductions.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2010, 07:00:03 AM by RMHC »

Offline James Rogers

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Re: Tung Oil
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2010, 06:25:12 AM »
Never tried it. What time frame leather work are you doing that the makers of those types of accoutrements would have had access to tung?


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Re: Tung Oil
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2010, 06:58:22 AM »
Pure tung oil aka CHINA WOOD OIL
has been around since 400 bc.
So it would be safe to assume it has been used  for a long time.
Linseed oil has a quality of darkening over time and tung oil does not.
And I am sure this too has been known for awhile as well.
Leather has been varnished for centuries and tung oil is a common
base ingredient in different types of varnish.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2010, 07:22:35 AM by RMHC »

Offline TPH

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Re: Tung Oil
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2010, 02:49:55 PM »
Don't think I would use tung oil on leather of any kind for any reason, it is a drying oil and the leather will be damaged, it will also darken leather just as the proper oil for leather, neatsfoot oil, but at least pure neatsfoot oil has benefit for leather. Of course, linseed oil would be no better on leather.

As far as how long tung oil has been around? A loooong time - in China. It has been in use in North America for all of about 75 years?
« Last Edit: July 07, 2010, 02:52:20 PM by TPH »
T.P. Hern


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Re: Tung Oil
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2010, 09:07:34 PM »
Actually with a white spirits mix ... that type of tung oil been around since about 1920.
The naptha was developed for the dry cleaning process.
Tung oil has been used for centuries .
Not looking to use it like an oil like neatsfoot ... but as a base for a Varnish.
to protect and stiffen leather.
for items such as these.

Offline T.C.Albert

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Re: Tung Oil
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2010, 12:49:21 AM »
I have seen references of colored varnish ( did they mean paint?) used to protect (??? or maybe decorate???) leather covered carriages in the 18th century...but for decorative purposes "guilding" was more for traditional painted wall coverings...but I have not seen references where leather was ever commonly protected with varnish
of any sort. heavily waxed...yes...dubbined...yes...olied...yes...pitch lined...of course, but varnished...not yet.

It seems once you seal the leather with varnish, oiling the leather again when it dried out would be problematical...also, as shelac was the traditional "varnish" of choice, and not too weather/water durable,
I would think varnishing common long rifle accoutrements was not often done...and if it were I would have thought it would have become more prevalent the more commonnly available various varnish concoctions the point where it was seen alot today, both on modern work and vintage leather goods...

Perhaps portmanteaus...or hardened armor type leathers from the 17th century employed it? But I havent seen it described yet....not saying it wasnt...just that I havent encountered it yet for what ever thats worth...but I too would love to see actually sounds pretty interesting.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2010, 12:52:30 AM by T.C.Albert »
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Re: Tung Oil
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2010, 01:45:34 AM »
spoke to a saddlemaker and  he said varnish (top coat) was used on saddles and gear.
researched leather armor and varnish was used , as well.
Love to see where it was used to protect painted art work on leather myself.
Here is a peice I just finished worked up with beeswax n mink oil.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2010, 01:47:26 AM by RMHC »


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Re: Tung Oil
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2010, 04:02:08 AM »
off the leather topic,  I use tung oil on my powder horns,  a light hand rubbed coat after the final scraping, scrimshaw and stain


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Re: Tung Oil
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2010, 04:08:44 AM »
  sorta reminds me of discussions that have gone on about OLIVE OIL
and how wide spread it was evidently used , way back when.

Offline Spotted Bull

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Re: Tung Oil
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2010, 12:56:18 AM »
Pretty nice work