Can You Use Tung Oil On Cherry Wood? (Avoid These 3 Simple Mistakes)

If you want a lustrous finish, then Tung oil could be just the thing you’re looking for.

This natural finishing oil, (sourced from the Tung Tree), is made with varnish as a hardening ingredient.

And when you combine the two, you end up with a penetrating oil finish that is incredibly water-repellent.

So, knowing all of that, should you use tung oil on cherry wood?

Yes, you can use a tung oil finish on cherry wood. This finish takes a while to cure and harden, but once it does, it will protect cherry wood from moisture and rot. Also, a tung oil coat won’t interfere with cherry woods natural darkening over time.

All of which means that applying tung oil will give you both that great reddish cherry wood hue – and water resistant protection – all in one.

But, that’s not to say that tung oil isn’t without it’s own set of complications. While tung oil does a good job at repelling water, it isn’t the most durable finish on the market.

Which means that you need to carefully decide if it is really the best finishing option for your particular project.

Related Post: Can You Apply Epoxy Over A Tung Oil Finish?

But if you stick with us, we’re going to quickly cover the 3 things you should avoid when applying tung oil to cherry wood.

tung oil on cherry wood

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No. 1) Do Not Apply It To High-Use Projects

Tung oil offers good water protection, but not good ‘wear and tear’ resistance. In other words, if you were to use this finish on something that is going to see a lot of use (like a table top), then it won’t last.

In fact, don’t be surprised if you find yourself having to refinish a tung oil covered cherry wood table every 12 months or so.

How Long Does Tung Oil Last On Wood? Once cured this oil finish will need a touch up once a year.

No. 2) Use Pure Tung Oil To Avoid Wood Discoloration

If you want cherry wood to darken, it will do that naturally. When exposed to UV light, cherry wood will deepen into that famous brownish-red.

Related Post: How To Darken Cherry Wood (What You Need To Know)

Now, a coat of tung oil won’t make any significant difference to the color of cherry. But, it is worth bearing in mind that, when you apply oil to wood, it will always darken the surface to a degree.

What’s more, if you are using Dark Raw Tung Oil, then coating that stuff on will make cherry wood appear very noticeably darker.

Your standard pure tung oil is more of a honey-hued finish. While dark raw tung oil covers wood in a rich coffee color.

But if you simply make sure that you are using a product made from pure tung oil, discoloration shouldn’t become an issue.

Related Post: Can You Put Tung Oil On Maple Wood (For An Effortless Finish)?

Will Tung Oil Darken Wood?

No, it won’t. It doesn’t darken as it ages (certainly not as much as say a Linseed Oil finish would). All pure tung oil does is enhance the color of timber.

Now, something like Liberon’s Premium Pure Tung Oil is a great all-natural product. You can check out the latest prices for this finishing oil over on by clicking here.

But, (and this is important enough that it bares repeating), make sure you use a pure tung oil product.

You see, there are a lot of finishing oil products on the market that claim to be tung oil, but aren’t. Sometimes they don’t even have tung oil as an ingredient. In which case, applying these faux-tung products may result in wood darkening.

So always check the ingredients underneath the label when buying this particular type of finish.

Related Post: Tung Oil Not Drying? (3 Simple Ways To Fix It)

No. 3) Make Sure You Properly Apply Enough Coats

Coating on tung oil can be a pretty long and tedious process. This is because, first off, it’s going to take a number of coats to fully protect cherry wood inside and out.

Each coat then needs a good 20+ minutes, to really soak into those cherry wood pores, before you go wiping off any excess oil.

On top of that, you need to give each layer time to dry between coats (at least 24 hours) before adding extra coats on top.

Basically, patience is key here if you want to get this job done right.

Related Post: Is Cherry Wood Good For Carving? (Solved!)

How Many Coats Of Tung Oil Should I Use?

You will need a minimum of 4 coats of tung oil when applied onto a porous timber such as Cherry. However, 5-6 coats of this finish is better if you want the best results.

You can use Tung oil on most types of natural wood crafts, including on a guitar body. But how does it match up when we compare it to Tru-oil? Learn more as we dive right into covering these two popular oil finishes: Tru-oil Vs Tung Oil: Which One’s Better For Your Guitar?

So To Sum Up…

Tung oil on cherry wood is a perfect combination if you’are willing to give this finish the care and patience it demands.

Just stick to a few ground rules during application, and you should be able to side-step common finishing problems;

  1. Only use tung oil on cherry wood projects that will rarely be used or handled.
  2. Only use pure tung oil (if you don’t want to further darken cherry wood).
  3. And always use more coats of tung oil than you’d think (4-6 coats).


Tung Oil Wood Finishes with Improved Weathering, Durability, and Scratch Performance by Addition of Cellulose Nanocrystals | ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces