Troubleshooting a Blotchy Tung-Oil-and-Wax Finish

      Finishers try to figure out why a customer-applied oil-and-wax finish ended up looking like the aftermath of a bad sunburn. June 30, 2007

Question
I installed this job last April and gave the homeowner some of the oil finish that I used when I built it. The homeowner applied the finish on the drawer fronts only in February and the result was the blotches in the pictures. This job is not right around the corner, so I hesitate to run down and fix it (6 hours). The finish is Land Ark, which is linseed oil, tung oil, beeswax, and pine rosin in an orange oil base. My customer said he wiped it on with a rag and waited 20 minutes and wiped it off. It looks to me like it's dry and maybe needs a recoat and buffing. Any ideas?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor I:
I had that problem come up once with a teak job where I had oiled the cabinets prior to delivery. Then I came back a few months later to take some photos as I delivered a few more teak items. To make all of the items look uniform, I re-oiled the original cabinets, took the pictures, and left. I got a call the next week saying the cabinets I re-oiled were turning a funny color.

I went to look at them and it came up in conversation that the client's wife had waxed the cabinets between my oilings. With that info, they decided to try stripping the wax on one of them and re-oiling to see if that helped and that did the trick. So maybe it is something with the oil and the beeswax.



From contributor C:
Looks like mold to me. How did he store them? Have him wipe more oil on and call it a day. Why in the world would you make a mess of a finish by making a mix of all the different ingredients?


From contributor P:
It looks like the wax went nuts in the finish. I think it's separated or something and went on unevenly. Personally, I'd not re-oil a piece. If it's done well when it's built, all you ever need to add is wax maybe once a year or two. Maybe have him wipe it with acetone and see if it clears up. Then a light coat of colored wax gently buffed.


From contributor B:
Wipe it down with mineral spirits and wax only, is my idea.


From contributor J:
This finish you describe would have to be put on very thinly over previously finished wood. Tung oil frosts (turns a whitish appearance) if applied too thick, or in a manner similar to a building type finish (wiping varnish). You should be able to have the customer wipe/scrub off the whitish look with mineral spirits or naphtha.


From the original questioner:
The Land Ark finish is from a company in South Carolina of the same name, used primarily on timber frames to keep them from checking. I started using it on pieces that required oil a while ago and have had good luck. My guess is the finish wasn't properly mixed or buffed out afterward. I like the idea of removing the wax and re-oiling, or using colored wax.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?


Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing: General Wood Finishing


    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.



    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2016 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB











  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers


      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article