Oiling/Waxing a drum

mikyok

Platinum Member
My steambent is due its annual service but I've got to oil the shell again for the first time since it was built.

Tung oil is easy to get hold of so it will need a couple of coats over a couple of days, that's easy enough.

It's the prepping and sealing bit I'm a bit stuck with as I don't want to ruin my baby.

I'm guessing I'd need fine sandpaper to go over the shell and after oiling seal it with wax, problem is I can't remember what wax I used in the first place, it smelt nice though :)

Any help much appreciated as always!
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Could you not just re-wax it . I'm not sure how well the Tung oil will work unless you get all of the old wax off.
 

Smoke

Silver Member
I'm with GD. If the external surface wood has already been sealed with some kind of drying finish and subsequently waxed, the tung oil probably won't do much. If you just want to protect the existing finish, I'd re-wax it with Johnson's paste wax or something similar.

If the last finish to be applied was tung oil (i.e., never been waxed), you might gently scrub the finish with 0000 steel wool (or equivalent), tack it completely and re-apply a couple coats of tung oil or whatever was last applied.

(sorry for the links - I'm not a Home Depot employee/shareholder, though a great deal of my paycheck has found its way there! ;-)
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Totally agree with Smoke. I am not an employee either, however I am a product tester for Home Depot. But don't tell anyone.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Cheers guys.

Now to find an English version of home depot :)

The Johnson's fine wood paste looks like a winner.
 

motleyh

Senior Member
I'm confused. Tung oil (assuming you are using the normal commercial blend, not pure tung oil) is a sealant and finish. If you need to re-apply it, then one of the following must be happening: (1) it's wearing off, (2) it's drying out, or (3) it's getting some scratches that you want to cover with a new coat. If either of the first two is happening, there are issues with the normal care (abrasions, humidity, temperature) the drum receives.

What tung oil is not is a wood treatment. The commercial blends known as tung oil include varnish, and sometimes one or more other oils besides pure tung. So unless there's damage of some sort, it should not need to be reapplied. If you do want to reapply it because of scratches, you're going to need to sand the old finish down a bit -- as a finish, it will not fill imperfections in the surface because it shrinks as it cures over time.

Wax is a protectant, and soft wax like pastewax may need to be reapplied periodically. A hard wax like carnauba may not really need that unless it's encountering weather conditions like a car does -- or unless the goal is just to brighten the gloss.

Even if you decide to go the tung oil route, it's pretty important that you know what the original finish was. Not all finishes are compatible with one another, and you could run into adhesion problems the would lead to peeling, etc. And if the previous finish was waxed, you'd need to remove at least that before applying any new finish materials.

My question in short: why do you think it needs a tung oil application at all? Or any oil?
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
I'm confused. Tung oil (assuming you are using the normal commercial blend, not pure tung oil) is a sealant and finish. If you need to re-apply it, then one of the following must be happening: (1) it's wearing off, (2) it's drying out, or (3) it's getting some scratches that you want to cover with a new coat. If either of the first two is happening, there are issues with the normal care (abrasions, humidity, temperature) the drum receives.

My question in short: why do you think it needs a tung oil application at all? Or any oil?

The drum is drying out. I was told it would happen when I made it (Tiki Snare Building Course). We used Tung oil when building it and was advised to use it in the future.

We had a problem with our lockup last year bad winter burst a water pipe and the roof sprung a leak (everything got bought home much to my wifes surprise)

It's always kept in a case when not being used.
 

Smoke

Silver Member
If the drum was sealed (on the outside, at least), I doubt that you're losing much of the wood's natural "oil." Many tropical hardwoods are "oily" and hard to glue using normal methods, but I don't think you can replenish those kinds of oils as the wood ages (could be wrong though).

The moisture content in the wood will probably ebb and flow between 6 and 10 % based on seasons and environmental conditions, but that is a natural occurrence, not necessarily a cause wood degradation.

The finish itself will dry out over time (think ancient pianos), but a coat of paste wax every so often will probably forestall finish crazing in your lifetime. As you mentioned earlier, the tung oil finish - if it hasn't already been waxed - can be freshened up with another coat, but I wouldn't bother unless the finish is thinning from wear or wasn't built up enough in the first place.

If you REALLY feel a need to re-coat with tung oil, you'll have to completely de-wax the finish (vinegar and water) and will likely have to prep the finish with 0000 steel wool, pumice or rottenstone to give the finish some "tooth." Clean VERY well and apply tung oil to your heart's content.

I probably wouldn't go the re-finish route unless it was absolutely needed, and the chance for "collateral damage" during the process was less than doing nothing at all. When you said "maintenance" that tells me "re-wax." Re-finish would be more like "major overhaul."

As always, my advice is free with a double-your-money-back guarantee! ;-)
Best of Luck, John.
 

motleyh

Senior Member
The drum is drying out. I was told it would happen when I made it (Tiki Snare Building Course). We used Tung oil when building it and was advised to use it in the future.

We had a problem with our lockup last year bad winter burst a water pipe and the roof sprung a leak (everything got bought home much to my wifes surprise)

It's always kept in a case when not being used.


Understood.

If it were me, I'd take the opportunity to sand that finish down and rebuild it, if only because tung oil should have some curing time between coats (at least 48 hours, and more is better). But it's not me, so you might want to do a light scuff sanding to put some slight tooth in the surface and give it another couple of coats. Yes, if you started with tung oil you should probably stick with it, unless you want to deal with barrier coats before using a different product (especially if you don't know what the components of the original tung oil were).

The other thing you might consider (if you haven't already done it) is some light sealer on the interior and even on the bearing edges. The better the shell is sealed, the less moisture and humidity will be issues.
 
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