Being new to certain kinds of refinishing, taking on some solid teak tables created a little trepidation. The color of the wood is so rich you can not imagine they are not stained. Being solid wood, this was not a task to mess up on either. To add to it all, a natural finish was a requirement. After asking around abit and doing some research I felt there were so many methods, brands, and other questionable information I felt I needed to strike out on my own and take a chance by not really taking a chance, I wanted a rock solid choice. I had read that "teak oil" was not really an oil per say, or teak, but a name of a finish or product that could be made of anything anyone dreams up. With teak furniture, if you want to keep that amber glow you need to oil it from time to time. This means that you do not want to use something that might interfere with that like wax or some finishes.
"Pure tung oil is hard to find, natural and exotic..."
The tables had some scratches and minor staining in the top surface so I knew I was getting in deep, "what if this table has been stained, and I cut through the stain with the sander, I would never be able to get it all to match" I thought. I put my fears aside and decided to go with pure tung oil. The only place I found it was at Rocker an online wood workers store. I bought some and waited for it to arrive. I was also given some old white tee shirts for rags which work well for applying finish, although these had been cut so they left little bits of cotton. that turned out to not be an issue as they just wipe off with a clean rag.
I sanded down the top with 100 grit then 150 then 220 with a random orbital sander. This was exciting as I got all the scratches out (some were over a foot long), stains, and ultimately made the surface flatter and smoother. I wiped the sanded surface with a clean rag and then used the pure tung oil on the table and some teak bowls we had laying around. Wow, the oil brought the wood to life, color and depth, like nothing I have ever seen. Beautiful, and the top matched the rest of the table perfectly! The bowls came back alive with only one coat. The table after one coat wanted more so I kept adding a coat every day giving the table the night to absorb the oil. After two days I took the pictures you see...
According to the Wikipedia "Tung oil is a drying oil obtained by pressing the seed from the nut of the tung tree (Vernicia fordii). As a drying oil, tung oil hardens (dries) upon exposure to air." Tung oil has been used for centuries on bowls and cutting boards. I changed our Rockler banner to a photo of the table and tung oil because we like the oil so much. (Note: Rocker did not pay us to write this article, we just like Tung oil and for that matter Rocker.)
Before refinishing you can see some staining and perhaps some of the scratches in the image below.