Maple is a popular wood type when it comes to high-end furniture making. Nowadays most people tend to use oil finishes over maple furniture too because for many reasons including eco-friendliness.
Tung oil is one of them. When I was finishing my maple wood furniture with Tung oil, I was curious about they will interact to give the perfect finishing as I wished.
With my experience, let’s discuss using Tung oil on maple.
Yes, you can use Tung oil on maple wood with no issues. Tung oil penetrates well into the maple dense grain and enhances the wood’s appearance. Tung oil protects maple wood from water damage, and it doesn’t yellow over time. Apply Tung oil liberally on the maple wood surface and let it dry and cure properly.
But that’s a quick snapshot. There’s a lot more to know about applying Tung oil on maple.
In this article, we’ll explore the advantages of using Tung oil maple and how to apply Tung oil on maple in detail.
Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions as well.
So, let’s jump in!
Rough turned and finshed. Maple with a bit of resin. Tung oil Finish. pic.twitter.com/4a7flzoHEV— Recovering Engineer (@MarkOnThePlanet) November 2, 2019
Can You Use Tung Oil On Maple?
Yes, Tung oil works perfectly on maple wood since Tung oil penetrates so well because of its straight grain structure and improves wood flexibility.
Then it will make a protective coating over maple wood against moisture and other environmental elements.
Tung oil coat protects maple wood from moisture, cracks, splits, rotting, and many other environmental impacts.
Plus, Tung oil improves the dark brown wood color of maple wood by giving a wet fresh look to the wood.
Because of the tight and dense grain structure of maple wood, Tung oil soak into the wood quickly and difficult to get an evenly spread finish.
Therefore, I’ll have to wipe Tung oil liberally using proper finishing techniques to finish maple wood without making a mess.
Tung oil hardens on the maple wood surface after application upon exposure to atmospheric oxygen.
It will make a protective coating over the maple wood surface as a result of a chemical reaction between oxygen and Tung oil elements.
Once you apply Tung oil over maple, Tung oil coats prevent maple wood from contacting the outside world.
Because of minimizing the interactions with the outside world, maple wood doesn’t make irregular wood movements and that helps to increase the wood’s stability.
Plus, properly applied Tung oil prevents wood from warping and twisting under climate changes.
All the drilling, routing and sanding are done! 🎸— Dean Holmes (@DeanH2014) March 6, 2019
The maple body has been dyed orange..
A little test fit and mockup in between coats of tung oil 💫 pic.twitter.com/jTxoTPT5gd
Overall, Tung oil increases the durability of maple wood furniture and other woodwork to keep them so long with extra protection from the outside world.
Tung oil is mostly used for,
- Maple high-end furniture
- Maple cabinets
- Maple wood floorings
- Window frames
- Maple patio furniture
- Maple wood carvings
As you can see Tung oil can use for any maple wood indoor and outdoor furniture.
You just have to follow the correct procedure during the application process because maple soaks up Tung oil like a sponge.
my latest project: media center. baltic birch plywood with curly maple trim. tung oil finish. pic.twitter.com/KXEgJSXhmw— weyland-ohtani corp (@stretchfest) July 4, 2018
Advantages Of Using Tung Oil On Maple
- Tung oil protects maple wood from water damages
- Tung oil enhances the maple wood color
- Tung oil is non-toxic
- Eco-friendly finishing
- Tung oil is easy to apply
- Tung oil doesn’t yellow over time
- Improves the wood flexibility
- Tung oil is food safe
- Prevent maple wood from dents and scratches
Maple wood is a sensitive element that changes dramatically along with environmental changes.
For example, maple wood tends to shrink under highly humid environments and expand under low humidity levels.
Plus, maple wood fibers expand due to thermal expansions under high-temperature levels.
But after applying Tung oil, Tung oil coats moisture evaporation from maple wood under low humidity levels to balance the moisture levels inside and outside.
Therefore, maple wood won’t shrink even under low humidity.
Same as, in high humidity levels, Tung oil coats prevent moisture from penetrating the wood inside.
This will prevent wood expansions under high humidity levels.
Rebuilding kitchen cabinets. Pantry drawers. Maple. Pine. Baltic Birch plywood. Tung oil finish. pic.twitter.com/5zhHPmsHdb— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) September 9, 2021
Overall, Tung oil is one of the best finishing products for maple wood which can protect the wood in the long run while providing a clearer finish with a beautiful appearance.
So, let’s have a look at how to apply Tung oil on maple properly to get a perfect finish as you wish.
How To Apply Tung Oil on Maple?
Applying Tung oil on maple is not easy as Tung oil on cedar or pine.
Because maple wood has a tight dense grain structure that absorbs Tung oil like a sponge and you’ll have to be quick and well-focused during the process to get the look you want.
There’re several ways you can apply Tung oil to maple. They are,
- Apply Tung oil using a bristle brush
- Spray Tung oil after mixing with mineral spirit
Apply Tung oil using a bristle brush is the easiest method to follow because the spraying method takes a lot of time and effort.
Supplies You Will Need
- Tung oil (Pure or dark)
- Maple wood
- Mineral spirit
- Sandpapers (120 grit, 150 grit, and 220 grit)
- Abrasive finishing pads
- Tack cloth
- Plastic cup or glass jar
- Measuring cup
- Plastic stick or stirrer
- A bristle brush, sponge brush, or lint-free soft cloth
- Latex gloves
The Procedure Of Applying Tung Oil on Maple
- Prepare maple wood surface
- Thin Tung oil with mineral spirit
- Apply first coat
- Let it dry and sand lightly
- Apply more coats
- Let the oil dry and cure properly
Donald K. used Ambrosia Maple finished with tung oil in this table build. Great work, Donald! pic.twitter.com/8DIjKfRfUt— Rockler Woodworking (@Rockler) July 22, 2019
So, let’s discuss each of the above steps in-detail to get a clear idea about applying Tung oil to maple with ease.
1. Prepare Maple Wood Surface
Before heading into the application process, you’ll have to bring maple wood furniture or woodwork to a well-ventilated area since good air circulation is great for efficient drying and minimizing respiratory issues during the application process.
First, you need to clean the entire maple wood surface with rags and cloths to remove dust, debris, grease, and other residues.
Proper cleaning is a must before finishing because dust particles give a dull appearance and reduce the performance of the finishing coat providing a blotchy surface.
Check for any exciting finishing coats on maple wood and make sure to remove those remaining finishers using sandpapers before starting the application process.
Use Tri-sodium phosphate to remove dirt, dust, and other residues that are difficult to remove by wiping with rags.
After cleaning the wood properly, sand the entire maple wood surface first with 120 grit sandpaper and then with 150 grit to eliminate surface randomness, and bumps and make the surface smooth.
Sand along the direction of the wood grain to open the pores structure of maple wood and to prevent the wood from scratching.
Sand with even pressure all over the wood to get even looking finishing coat.
Wet sanding is recommended with 220-grit sandpaper for a super smooth surface. Wet the surface using a spray, let it dry, and sand lightly with 220 grit sandpaper.
Once you’re done with sanding, check the maple wood surface carefully to identify missing spots. Then do the sanding again for those spots.
After sanding removes sawdust and other residue using a proper dust collection pipe system or wipes off using clean rags.
Now your maple wood surface is ready to accept Tung oil perfectly with a super smooth finish.
Earlier today – first coat of tung oil for restored maple shop tables @cofab pic.twitter.com/QM0exgxVXc— Mike Stone (@himikestone) January 18, 2014
2. Thin The Tung Oil With Mineral Spirit
Thinning Tung oil is recommended to get a super smooth clearer finish with an evenly spread coating.
Applying Tung oil directly on maple is difficult because maple absorbs Tung oil quickly and is unable to spread evenly all over the wood.
Thinned Tung oil with mineral spirit improves the adhesive properties of the first coat and that helps the next coat of Tung oil to stick well with the previous one, by making one thin layer with no separation.
Therefore, only the first coat of Tung oil is required to thin with mineral spirit. The final coat is fine to apply without thinning.
First, you need to have a clear idea about how much Tung oil you need to use for the first coat to cover up the entire maple wood surface.
Follow the below steps carefully to thin Tung oil with mineral spirits,
- Take the necessary amount of Tung oil into a measuring cup for the first coat
- Pour Tung oil into the glass jar or plastic cup
- Add an equal amount of mineral spirit into the glass jar or plastic cup
- Mix them slowly without forming bubbles
Make sure to purchase regular mineral spirit products from local stores. Because ones that are marked as eco-friendly or green aren’t suitable for mixing with Tung oil for thinning.
@Nick_Offerman 3rd coat of tung oil finish on this maple dining table, casting resin is next #woodworking pic.twitter.com/HDWZub9m7M— Cedar Sound Studios (@cedarsounds) November 27, 2015
3. Apply the First Coat Of Tung Oil
Take a bristle brush or tack cloth and dip it lightly in the thinned Tung oil and apply the first coat of Tung oil all over the maple wood surface.
Apply Tung oil generously, evenly, along the direction of the maple wood grain to absorb Tung oil well without missing any spots.
Applying along the wood grain helps for better absorption without getting splotchy or tacky surface.
As soon as you touch the first coat of Tung oil on the maple wood surface, the oil will soak deep into the wood quickly.
Tung oil will saturate the maple wood fibers and improve the wood’s flexibility to prevent the wood from cracking.
Not like varnish or lacquer, Tung oil doesn’t sit directly on the surface. Once the wood fibers are saturated with the first coat of Tung oil, you’ll be able to make a clear coat of maple wood from the second coat onwards.
After applying the first coat of Tung oil on the maple, check for puddle areas and remove them by wiping them with a soft cloth.
Puddles areas give an unpleasant appearance to your maple wood furniture.
After applying the first coat, let the maple wood be saturated for another 30 minutes and wipe excess oils and bubbles before the oil settles on the surface.
A project from late spring, a Roubo bookstand. This is an old design that’s made from a single board, where you make a series of cuts that allow it to open up like this. Made from cherry and maple and finished with tung oil and waxed. pic.twitter.com/1njcbt6SIr— Jon Walsh (@AnotherJonWalsh) October 12, 2021
4. Let It Dry and Sand The Surface Lightly
After applying the first coat of Tung oil on the maple wood surface, let the coat dry and cure for about 6 hours.
Don’t apply the next coat of Tung oil before the previous one dries completely. Otherwise, you’ll end up with never drying tacky surface.
Once the first coat of Tung oil dries completely, sand the entire surface lightly with fine 320-grit sandpaper or abrasive pads to remove drips, runs, nibs, and flaws and make the surface super smooth and clear.
Sanding between Tung oil coats helps to bond the next coat well onto the previous coat’s surface with good adhesion without separation.
Do not sand the coat before it dries. Drying wet surfaces clog up the sandpaper and scratch the surface.
Steel wool also works fine when sanding between coats.
Once you’re done with sanding, Wipe and clean the surface to remove residue.
Finally back in the shop. Ambrosia maple finished with tung oil. Approx. 4″ tall by 5″ diameter. Really beautiful grain on this one. pic.twitter.com/juZXYIsBjt— nubbin00 (@nubbin00_) November 11, 2021
5. Apply More Coats Of Tung Oil
Now you can start to apply the second coat of Tung oil to the maple wood. you don’t need to thin the second coat of Tung oil because the surface is well prepared to take more Tung oil coats after the first thinned coat.
Apply the second coat of Tung oil on the maple wood surface using the same technique you used for the first coat along the direction of the wood grain.
Wipe off the excess and make a clear evenly spread Tung oil coat in the end.
Repeat the same procedure and apply up to 4 – 5 coats of Tung oil on maple wood. make sure to apply thin coats of Tung oil for fast drying and better absorption. Application time is around 10 minutes.
- Wipe the excess amounts of oils, drips, and runs during the application using a clean rag before they are set.
- Apply thin coats of Tung oil for better drying and curing process
- Noticing dull areas after the second or third coat is pretty normal. Those dull areas will varnish once the final coat of Tung oil is cured properly
Maple handle, Hickory and Mahogany head, finished with Tung oil. #woodworking @Rockler pic.twitter.com/zOW1xUDCsB— Mad Rose Woodworks (@WoodworksMad) April 28, 2021
6. Let The Tung Oil Dry And Cure Completely
After applying each coat of Tung oil to the maple, let it dry for 6 hours. I recommend you dry overnight for efficient drying with no issues.
Drying is important to make the finish clearer, and smooth and to absorb the next oil coat more evenly without forming ugly blotches.
After the final coat of Tung oil let it cure for 14 days. Yes, it’s pretty long because usually, oil finishes take a lot of time for the curing process.
During the curing period of 14 days, Tung oil will color up the maple wood and give beautiful rich dark brown color evenly.
Plus, a super-strong protective layer of Tung oil will build up during the curing period and that will help maple wood furniture stay fresh and awesome in the long run.
After 6 hours of drying, the Tung oil surface does not look sticky or tacky. But it takes around 14 days of curing to come up to a hard state.
Therefore, I highly recommend you keep maple wood furniture without using it for at least 14 days after finishing with Tung oil for better use.
That’s it, folks! Now you have a clear and in-depth idea about applying Tung oil perfectly on maple wood with the correct simple techniques.
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions as well.
Does Tung Oil Darken Maple?
No, Tung oil does not darken maple wood. Use dark Tung oil to make maple wood darker.
Pure Tung oil makes a clear finish on maple wood with enhanced wood color.
Plus, Tung oil does not yellow over time. you can keep your maple wood color look same for a long time by applying Tung oil because it doesn’t cause wood discoloration.
I made a mailbox! Case is walnut and maple. Door is ambrosia maple. Bottom is dovetailed on, and the middle piece is joined to the sides with wedged tenons. The top is just mortised in. The back is made of 3 pieces shiplapped together to account for expansion. Finish is tung oil. pic.twitter.com/SBMwzYeFyG— Sasha Romanosky (@SashaRomanosky) July 25, 2021
Does Tung Oil Turn Yellow?
Tung oil does not yellow like many other oil finishes.
You can keep Tung oil-finished furniture for a long time until they get a dull appearance to reapply Tung oil. But you won’t notice yellowing at all.
Q: Is Tung Oil a good finish?— Craftiviti (@Craftiviti) August 5, 2022
A : If you want to see the grain of a wood and feel the texture, the Tung Oil is a great finish. It is also eco friendly, food-safe, non toxic & it is also not going to yellow over time ✨ pic.twitter.com/bvsxXT37Ih
What Oil is Best For Maple Wood?
- Minwax Tung oil finish
- Cabot’s Tung oil
- Real Milk paints dark Tung oil
- Hope Tung oil
How Many Coats Of Tung Oil?
Apply 4 coats of Tung oil on maple wood to get a protective finish with enhanced, enriched wood color.
Apply thin coats of Tung oil to get a clearer smooth finish.
Tung oil coats protect maple wood from moisture, rotting, decaying, and many other impacts. Let each coat of Tung oil dry for a minimum of 6 hours for an excellent finish.
Completed the toolbox! Case, interior, drawer sides and backs are all hard maple, with walnut drawer fronts. Finished with many coats of tung oil. Many firsts on this project:— Sasha Romanosky (@SashaRomanosky) March 3, 2021
– first hand-cut dovetails
– first hand-cut, half-blind dovetails pic.twitter.com/qCLH0ztXzk
Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Tung Oil On Maple
In this article, we have deeply discussed using Tung oil on maple wood and how to apply Tung oil on maple wood with ease using proper application techniques.
Tung oil can build an excellent finish on maple wood that protect the wood from moisture while giving enrich look to the straight or curly grain pattern of the wood.
Tung oil absorbs well into the maple wood and saturates to make a non-yellowing clearer finish. Tung oil doesn’t darken maple wood over time.
Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions as well.
Hope you have gained good knowledge about using Tung oil on maple wood correctly without messing things up.
Try to apply Tung oil for your next maple wood furniture to see how well it interacts with wood to build a protective beautiful finish. Happy wood finishing!