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Linseed oil vs tung oil are two of the most popular finishes for woodwork. They are both derived from plants, and they both provide a durable, protective coating. However, there are some key differences between the two oils. Linseed oil is made from flax seeds, while tung oil is extracted from the nut of the tung tree.

Linseed oil has a shorter drying time than tung oil, but it is also more susceptible to yellowing and sticky buildup. Tung oil dries harder than linseed oil, making it more resistant to scratches and dents. It also has a higher resistance to water damage. Ultimately, the best finish for your woodwork will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

Linseed oil and tung oil

Linseed Oil vs Tung Oil

Linseed oil and tung oil are two commonly available pure oil finishes that can be used on furniture and woodwork with decent results. There are important differences between these two oils. Linseed oil is a drying oil, meaning it will harden when exposed to air.

Tung oil, on the other hand, is a non-drying oil and will remain soft indefinitely. Linseed oil cures much too slowly to be practical, so use “boiled” linseed oil instead. It contains driers, which are catalysts to speed the introduction of oxygen and therefore the curing.

It isn’t actually boiled. When applying linseed oil, be sure to spread it evenly and allow it plenty of time to dry before adding additional coats. With tung oil, however, you can apply multiple coats in quick succession since it doesn’t need to dry between coats.

Linseed oil can also be mixed with other finishes, such as varnish, to create a more durable finish. Tung oil should not be mixed with other finishes since it could prevent the finish from curing properly.

When choosing between linseed oil and tung oil, consider the project you’re working on and your desired outcome. Linseed oil is a good choice for projects.

Tung Oil

There are two main types of oil used for finishing wood: linseed oil and tung oil. Both oils provide a durable, long-lasting finish, but there are some important differences between the two. Linseed oil is derived from flax seeds, while tung oil comes from the nut of the tung tree.

Linseed oil dries more slowly than tung oil, so it’s important to allow plenty of time for it to cure before using the finished product. Tung oil also penetrates deeper into the wood grain than linseed oil, so it’s a good choice for finishes that need to be very hard-wearing.

However, tung oil can be difficult to apply evenly, so it’s important to practice beforehand. In general, linseed oil is best for small projects where a smooth finish is desired, while tung oil is better suited for larger projects or those that will see a lot of wear and tear.

The primary differences between linseed oil and tung oil are as follows:

  • Linseed oil “yellows” more than tung oil. That is, it turns more orange as it ages.
  • Boiled linseed oil cures faster than tung oil, overnight in a warm room when all the excess is wiped off, as opposed to two or three days for tung oil. (Raw linseed oil cures much slower – weeks at a minimum – so raw linseed oil will remain sticky for a long time, even with the excess wiped off).
  • Boiled linseed oil used as a finish can be made presentable with just two or three coats, sanding smooth after the first coat. Tung oil requires five or more coats, and you need to sand between each to remove the roughness.
  • Tung oil is more water resistant than linseed oil because it has approximately three crosslinks between molecules instead of the slightly less than two for linseed oil. But because neither oil hardens well so neither can be built up thick, both are less water resistant than a built-up alkyd or polyurethane varnish, lacquer, shellac or water-based finish.

When it comes to choosing a wood finish, there are a few factors to consider. Boiled linseed oil and tung oil are both popular choices, but each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Boiled linseed oil is easier to apply and dries more quickly, but it is less water-resistant than tung oil. Tung oil takes longer to dry and requires more coats for a durable finish, but it is more resistant to water damage.

In most cases, boiled linseed oil is the better choice, unless you need the extra protection that tung oil provides.

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