The bench I’m building is nearly complete. I’ve been applying the finish in my living room. I’m using 100% Tung oil to seal the walnut legs and seat. Tung oil is a natural drying oil derived from the nut of a tung tree. I wanted to use something completely nontoxic and easy to apply. I also like the idea of using a finish containing only one ingredient. Fortunately I don’t have any nut allergies and the oil doesn’t irritate my hands or my lungs. I’m not worried about hazardous fumes (the tung oil smells good) in my living room. The drying time between coats is long but it’s worth the wait. Once the final coat hardens it will be nearly impervious to water. I feel good knowing that this functional object soon to be put to use in my home is made almost completely from organic materials (not including the wood glue). Over time the bench may have to be re-oiled but I don’t mind.
I have really enjoyed working with wood. The material seems alive as every cell expands and contracts depending on the moisture in the air. I prefer finishes that showcase the material rather than cover it up. Because this bench is one of my first woodworking projects, I went with my class to a hardwood supplier for my material. However, I’m very interested in learning about more sustainable woodworking practices like building from reclaimed and salvaged wood or from naturally fallen timber.