Secret to Applying
"Tried & True Varnish Oil"

by Tommy Joe

  •   Use a rag and apply very, very thin coats.

  •   Fine Woodworking Magazine did an article where they tested different varnishes, and one of those tested was Tried & True Varnish Oil.

  •   It got a lowsey grade, yet the professional finisher I know, highly recommends it.

  •   Thanks to a fellow Woodnetter, I found Jeff Jewitt's forum where the FWW article was discussed.

  •   Basically it was stated that T&TVO is not the same type of varnish as the other brands tested.

  •   There are no petroleum products in it and no chemical drying accelerators.

  •   You can thin it with Danish Oil.

  •   Mineral Spirits will cause the T&TVO varnish to never cure.

  •   It was also stated, on the forum, that FWW did not even read the can.

  •   FWW's complaint was that it takes 30 days to cure...

  •   Well that's true if it's applied like a Urethane with a brush.

  •   T&TVO does not go on nearly that heavy, and certainly not with a brush IME.

  •   A recently completed project using T&TVO on Walnut.

  • The secret is that...

  •   it's not to be treated as a Urethane or even a traditional varnish.

  •   Apply T&TVO VERY THIN and at

  •   a minimum of 4 coats.

  •   The end results are very good and is worth the effort.

  •   The temperature in the shop should be 70* or above and

  •   I think 70% humidity at a max.

  •   Any difference in temp and humidity will affect the drying time.

  •   That info is on the can.

  •   As for clean-up; I use rags in a "
    " that Woodcraft sells.

  •   I cut a small square (like 2" X 4" or 3" X 6") and pick up a small amount of T&TVO.

  •   Afterwards that rag is tossed.

  •   Burnishing is done with a fresh rag (full size is what I use) and I usually keep that thru the process.   If the rag, used for burnishing, has a lot of the oil on it, the application was applied too heavy and may have to be burnished again or let it set longer.   Either way that burnishing rag should be tossed if it's loaded with oil.   That is also on the can IIRC.

  • I've heard it called "Natural Varnish Oil".

    I remember that Jeff Jewitt stated that T&TVO is a different category than other varnishes.

    I don't think there's a big issue with blotching.

    There is the problem of applying it too heavy and it won't cure, but I don't think blotching is too much of a concern.   It warms the color of the wood but doesn't change it that drastically IME.


  •   This has 5 coats of T&TVO on it.

  •   Each coat was applied thin and stretched over the area with a rag and moderate hand rubbing.

  •   After an hour, it was burnished using a fresh rag and

  •   allowed to sit for 24 hours.

  •   I wanted to show you that Tried & True does work very well.

  • Comment by Jason28

    I agree with everything you said.
    Tried & True Original is the only finish I use.   And yes, it is all natural.   I have a birch walking staff that I merely peeled the bark from and scraped smooth.   I applied 4 coats of T&T Original, following the directions, and the grain that came out was spectacular.   In fact, it is no longer my staff.   My wife claimed it after I put the finish on it.

  •   I have also found that it goes on much better when heated.

  •   I use a small 1 - 1 1/2 quart crockpot with a bit of water in it.

  •   It heats the finish to about 120*.

  •   It goes on nice and thin and soaks in better.

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