Pure Tung Oil


This bottle of pure tung oil has just arrived through the post from tungoil.co.uk. I’m keen to compare the finish of tung oil on spoons with that of linseed oil, grape seed oil or walnut oil. Like these three oils tung oil is a drying oil which polymerises in the presence of oxygen to form a solid but flexible matrix with the wood that has been treated. Like linseed oil the label ‘tung oil’ covers a multitude of sins for products with all sorts of additives to either enhance the penetration of oil into wood or to accelerate the curing of the oil. None of these products with additives can be used on kitchenware or children’s toys, which is why it it is important to search out pure foodsafe tung oil.

The manufacturers have several claims of the benefits of  tung oil over linseed oil, it penetrates the wood more easily, dris more quickly and is more resistant to mould. It will be interesting to test those claims.

The Bestwood brand is pure tung oil extracted from the seeds or nuts of the Chinese Tung tree Aleurites fordii or Vernicia fordii, a member of the spurge family. As it contains no additives it is certified EN71 toy safe.

There is some evidence that tung oil may cause an allergic response from those with nut allergies, so that must be taken into account when using it, especially on any products being sold.


I intend to treat this apple wood spoon with pure tung oil so do check back and see how I get on. Will tung oil have a better finish than my favourite grape seed oil? For me the most important characteristic is how little colour the finish has and how much the natural finish of the wood can shine through.


Cherry Spoon

I have just finished carving this little spoon from cherry wood. It’s untreated with oils as yet


What’s nice about it is that it is from a pruning of a cherry tree in our back garden here in Oxfordshire. The branch was only about 4 or 5 cm wide and the bowl uses pretty much the entire diameter of the original branch. I carved it bark side up, which is why the grain is shaped that way in the bowl. It just goes to show what little material you need for spooncarving. The provenance of the wood for this spoon also gives it some greater emotional significance

cherry spoon and Iisakki carving knife

I used an Iissakki Jarvenpaa Carpenters knife to carve the spoon, with a curly birch handle, brass bolster and a stainless steel blade. Unfortunately this knife is no longer manufactured by the Finnish comapny which is a shame as I really like using it. It has a feel of a more upmarket Frost Mora 120 carving knife about it.

I’ve tried to give the spoon some three dimensionality and strengthen the stem by giving it a keel. I really like the way the grain show on the keel, seen below, with what remains of the branch it was carved from.

Cherry Spoon and Branch

Cherry spoon carved from a piece of the branch shown with an Iissakki Jarvenpaa Carpenters knife
Cherry spoon carved from a piece of the branch shown with an Iissakki Jarvenpaa Carpenters knife