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Danish/tung oil - first timer

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I want to practice using an oil finish. I have chosen Midwest's Dinghy kit to be the guinea pig (before attempting the AL Virginia).

Do I oil the pieces before assembly or oil the completed model - or a combination of both?

Hints or tips?



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Hi Pete!


Like Janos said, you will encounter glue adheshion problems if you oil the parts first. I started the Midwest Dinghy kit as a side project and the planks overlap along their long edges (lap sided) which require that you sand bevels on the overlaps. The planks are also oversize in length so they must be trimmed and sanded after they are glued. The front edges of the planks then have to be sanded further to pointed shape. If you finish these pieces ahead of time, you will be sanding the finish off in a lot of areas and then re-finishing them. Besides the glue not sticking well to oiled surfaces, you could end up with splotchy areas in the finish depending on the finish you use. The dinghy kit has been pretty fun so far and the instructions are excellent. I'm doing an oil and shellac finish on my whaleboat build.

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I picked up some Watco Danish oil (natural finish) and tested it this evening on some mahogany and basswood scraps from a previous Midwest kit and it looks pretty good so far. I brushed on a liberal coat and let it sit 30 minutes, wiped it down and put on another coat. Waited 15 minutes and wiped again. I'll let it cure for 24 hours(?) before putting on another coat. I hope I'm doing this right.


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Hi Pete,


As others advised, assemble the model first. I prefer to use 100% PureTung Oil and not stuff that has been adulterated or otherwise processed in any way.


The key to getting a good finish is to use as little as possible spread as far as possible. Once you have coated the model, wipe off any excess and remove as much as possible. Use Q-Tips etc. to remove excess oil that accumulates in corners. Only then allow the model to stand for a couple of days to allow the oil to penetrate the wood. It should be looking quite good at this stage but i find an improvement in applying a second coat working exactly as before. Further coats do not seem to enhance the finish and are more likely to just thicken the coating.


Always experiment first to satisfy yourself beforehand.



Edited by richardt
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what finishes are going to darken the least amount possible?

Will oil over an acrylic paint work?  (let's say the bulwarks are painted but the deck planking isn't, and it's very hard to oil just the raw wood-- OK to apply oil over the paint as well?)  I suspect so... given that you can do oil paintings on top of acrylic gesso.  But just double checking.

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Hi Pete

Oil will not darken the wood It should just lift and brighten the colour

I would not cover paint with oil. You should use a small paint brush and apply it carefully to the area you want to oil

So oil or matte varnish will darken the least but if you are going to use stain have a look at a light colour 

like Baltic Pine but not Mahogany

Hope this helps



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