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Steel wool vs. sandpaper for Tung oil

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  • Steel wool vs. sandpaper for Tung oil

    While we're at it: Had been using 000 steel wool between coats of real Tung oil (Lee Valley, and per their instructions), and was happy with the results, but read in Understanding Wood Finishing by Bob Flexner that he says sandpaper is better, faster, etc. So I tried it. UGH! With only one light to very light stroke of P320 I nearly destroyed a nice walnut veneer cabinet I was refinishing. Again, did I do something wrong, or is sandpaper really that much more aggressive than steel wool?

    Thanks,

    [ 10-05-2005, 01:53 PM: Message edited by: Scott C. ]

  • #2
    000 steel wool is around 35 microns which is closer to P400 than P320 which is 46 microns or between 0 and 00 wool).
    Sandpaper scratches away the surface with a bunch of sharp pointed stones while wool works more like knives cutting the surface which produces a smoother finish.

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    • #3
      Scott
      Here is finish you might want to try. I lightly sand the wet tung oil with wet fry sand paper. The slurry that is created does magic filling the pores of the wood. After lightly sand the whole surface I wait about 15-30 minutes and wipe off any excess. I let that dry for 24 hours and repeat the process. I usually do 2-3 coats like this then the last one or two just tung oil rubbed softly to the sheen I want.
      I have great success using both polyermized and straight tung oil using this method. It also works for Watco finishes.
      The real secret is the the extra extra fine wet dry paper 600-1000 grit.
      Rev Ed

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      • #4
        Thanks for the clarification and finishing ideas. That steel wool cuts like little mini-knives, or maybe little mini-planes, I like. Think I'll stick with the steel wool on all non-water-based finishes.

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