Tinting Tung Oil with Sawdust

A finisher tells how he gives tung oil a natural red-cedar tint. November 13, 2005

I designed and built this bench out of white oak for a customer. She wanted it to match the redwood color garden arbor it would sit under. I like Tung oil, so I did some experimenting. I have a lot of red cedar, so I sanded a piece and collected the sawdust. I put the oil and sawdust in a jar overnight and had red Tung oil to finish with.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
Neat trick, but if this is an outdoor bench, will an oil finish be enough to keep the oak from getting ruined by the elements? I always thought of oak as staining too easily for outdoor furniture.

From the original questioner:
White oak should last decades with an oil finish. It will be under an arbor, setting on patio blocks. They make barrels, fence posts and deck heavy equipment trailers with it with no treatment.

That's a comfy looking bench. Reminds me of a hot summer night in the country with a cold six pack close at hand.

I think your idea about mixing sanding dust into the finish is quite ingenious. I've heard of sanding dust mixed into glue but never into an oil. Tung oil does not seem to get the accolades it deserves, but it is quite a durable oil finish. Something that helps it maintain its durability is a waxing with a good paste wax, perhaps an automotive wax?

From the original questioner:
It is funny you should mention the 6 pack. The customer didn't know exactly what she wanted. Her guidelines were: match the basic design and color of the arbor, and most importantly (or her husband would have a fit at what she spent), make the armrests wide enough for a beer can to set on. True story.