Tru Oil - finishing the job...

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Jan 26, 2007
7th layer of hell (Seattle), Washington
I'm refinishing a stock and using Tru Oil as the finish (for some stupid reason decided against BLO, and am kicking myself for it) and for the life of me can't get this stuff to dry and set to a nice smooth satin finish like I was expecting it should.

I have been hand rubbing each coat into the stock until tacky/absorbed, allowing it to set for at least 4 hrs, then lightly buffing with 0000 steel wool, and then applying the next coat. Even after 24hrs of resting in a warm room it's not set up - and still very rough and sticky.

Do I need to just give it more time to fully cure, or is there a finishing step not listed on the bottle that will give me a nice smooth non-sticky finish layer?

Thanks in advance for the help and/or suggestions.

EDIT: looks like some people are saying it could take up to 4 days or more for each coat to cure and that if it's in the least bit sticky don't touch it. I guess I'll just see how long it takes to harden and go from there...
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I'm going to blame the humid area your in. I think your going to have to wait it out a few days. Sounds like your doing it right. Let us know.
In my experience, humid weather effects drying time of shellac/varnish type finishes.
I am an avid fan of Tru Oil but shelf life of the product is diminished once the bottle is opened for the first time.
I like to go at least 24 hrs between coats, the final coats of course requiring very little oil to rub an entire rifle stock.
TO will take more than 4 hrs.
If you lookaround on the net ( for one, you will find some discussion about using TO with Armor all for 'instant' hardening, perhaps 5 min with the right ratios.

I have not done it but many have.

Dont kick yopurself about using Tru-oil, it is great. I buff my final (all) coats as I like the matte finish vs very glossy. Rebuff w/ wool months later and get a return of that great matte look.
I've used Tru-Oil for years with great results. I always allow 12 hours between coats and only buff sparingly with 0000 steel wool(once after the pores have been filled and once after the final coat. I do the final buffing with a felt pad moistened with BLO and rottenstone. This gives an awesome satin finish.
Thanks guys for the advice.

With each coat I am only putting on maybe a 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon worth of oil, enough to wet the entire surface but not much past that. With firm pressure by hand I rub it in and after maybe 2-3 minutes the oil has soaked in leaving my hands and the stock quite sticky (it's a real pain to get off my hands).

If this is too much I can go less and try to rub in with a terry cloth, otherwise I'll just keep on with the same procedure - but allowing the stock to dry 2-3 days between coats... or however long it takes for the stuff to dry and not be tacky any longer.
I believe that the bottle tells you to wipe it down after 15 minutes
and I've always taken that to mean, wipe it dry, I only worry about the rubbing in on the last coat, as the first two seal the stock and the last gives you the deep luster.

The advice jimmyraythomason has given you, is the best there is! I refinished a Rem. model #33, .22 cal rifle about 6 - 7 months ago, his help made this old rifle look absolutely brand new! The trick of this whole process, let the oil totally dry before adding more! You might possibly be putting on more than needed. Your climate is pretty damp, my being in Colorado is really dry, I gave my rifle 3 to 4 days drying time between coats, this is just me, YMMV. I was just down in the vault a bit ago, might get the #33 out tomorrow and just give a good rubdown again.

Don't use terry cloth!! Use non-linting cotton cloth to rub a damp stock, won't leave those tiny threads you'll never get out!
I think you are rushing it. Give it at least 24hr between coats and as stated, wipe off all excess after about fifteen minutes with a lint free cloth.

If you want faster results try some of the Formby's furniture finishes.
I am only putting on maybe a 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon worth of oil
That right there is your problem.

1/2 a teaspoon of Tru-Oil is enough to do about six coats.

I just dab a fingertip in it, put it on the wood, then hand rub & spread it till there is nothing left but a very thin film.
One fingertip dab should do most of one side of a buttstock for instance.

Set the stock in the sun all day, rub out with steel wool, and do it again.
And again. And again.

Applying a second coat before the first coat is completely dry will only keep the whole mess sticky for a long time!

Shelf life - a few months old, and my stuff does not dry well. But a new bottle dries after and hour or two. And I never rub it out with anything - that is a new one on me.

I use a finger to smear a little on the stock, wait a few hours til it is dry, and put on another coat. 2 or 3 is all I do. And when fully dry, buff lightly with 0000 steel wool to get rid of the Weatherby look! Great stuff.
will letting it sit for a few days followed by knocking it back down
It should unless you have very high humidity in your area.

If you do, keep it inside in dryer A/C air, but put a heat lamp on it to cure it.

BTW: I think "dry" is kind of a misnomer.
Cure out is closer to what is going on.
If a second coat film seals over the first coat before it is completely cured, air can no longer get to the first coat to allow it to set up completely.

Too much, too fast. You want to apply the thinnest coat you can while still going on smoothly. Just on your fingertip enough to rub in without dragging. Then let it dry 24 hours before you do it again. And again, and again....

You cannot be in a hurry when refinishing stocks, at least not with Tru Oil.
Regarding age, the bottle was delivered to the gun store about 2 hrs before I picked it up and cracked the seal.

Not only have I been putting it on too thick, but now I'm wondering if trying to rub it in like BLO is causing me even more issues. After a couple minutes of rubbing it gets sticky and tacky like half-set glue, that's when I figure it's set in and ready to cure - probably compounding one issue with another.

Also, having three coats on the stock without allowing any of them to fully cure probably means I've really screwed things up and get to wait a couple weeks or longer for it to set - if it ever does at all.

Not looking forward to the possibility that I may have to re-sand and start from scratch... If that needs to happen I'll do it with BLO and call it good.
No sanding necessary.

I'd just rub the sticky mess off with 0000 grade Super Fine steel wool.
When you get down to the wood the mess will be gone and you can start over.

If it's looking like a thick, sticky lumpy mess, which seems to be the case, you may want to flush off the present finish with a suitable solvent. Allow the stock to dry until you can't smell anything from the solvent or any Tru Oil which was left in the pores and then basically start from scratch using the methods the folks here have suggested.
If it doesn't dry out by the end of the weekend I'll strip off what's sitting on the stock and go from there...

If I were to do that I have two questions:
- Would Mineral Spirits be a proper solvent to use?
- Could I use BLO after solvent stripping the TO, or would I need to sand down completely before moving on to another oil/finish?
I'll bet you're using way to much, a single drop on the heel of your hand is all you need, and rub it in, should dry in 3/4 hours. Some folks even add a spritz of ArmorAll which will give a super finish.
Well, it looks like I just needed to ask a bunch of questions and stall on the project. Last night it was pretty close to cured and just barely tacky, I hit it lightly with some steel wool, and now after sitting overnight it's almost 100% dry and looking great. I'll give it another day or two, then do one final light coat and call it good. Thanks for all the help and advice.
Yea for Woodstock! I have finished two stocks using his procedure, and they came out great. Just make sure you take the time to read the whole thread, maybe even twice.

Happy Shooting

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