East Texas Woodturners' Association

Finish Storage

by Mike DeLong

Updated Jul19, 2004

I often use a commercial tung oil/varnish mixture as finish on wood projects. Unfortunately, this product's shelf life after the initial opening is limited. I usually end up throwing a good portion of the product away because it thickens and becomes difficult to apply when stored in the original container after opening. I've tried many re-sealable containers without success. Lately I have begun pouring the unused oil/varnish into an empty wine bottle after the initial opening. I then use a manual vacuum pump and rubber cork designed specifically for wines bottles. A few pumps to evacuate the air remaining in the bottle is all it takes. The next time I need to use the finish I pour the required amount into an appropriate container for application, usually a small tin bowl. When no longer needed, I pour the unused portion back into the wine bottle and once again evacuate the air with the pump. So far this process has more than doubled the shelf life of my oil/varnish finish and the clock is still ticking. I obtained my pump and stoppers at Bed Bath & Beyond. The pump and one stopper cost around $12. Additional stoppers are about $4 a pair.

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