I am getting to the end stages of building a desk out of maple. Should I use a wood conditioner on my maple wood before applying tung oil finish or polyurethane?

I have tried a bit of both on a test piece of wood and so far I have not noticed any blotching or other issues. But they are smaller pieces of wood.

I will be applying this to a large sheet of inch-thick maple plywood for the surface as well as the legs which are made out of maple boards.


1 Answer 1


What's sold as "wood conditioner" is also called "pre-stain conditioner" as mentioned in a Comment on a previous Question, and as the second name better implies they're intended to reduce/prevent blotching in blotch-prone woods when staining.

You're not staining, so no need for 'conditioning' the wood beforehand.

Also important to understand what "wood conditioners" are made from. Almost all are just a very dilute finish, e.g. thinned varnish*. So there's literally no difference to what one will do to the wood versus applying a normal polyurethane.

"Tung Oil Finish" can itself be used to 'condition' wood, so again no benefit to be gained by pre-sealing the wood beforehand with something else.

*Obviously this is something the manufacturers don't want buyers to know since some will have the bright idea that they can make the same thing themselves by thinning some varnish and using that instead. And they're right, because that's exactly what was done in the past for this purpose, see closing comment here.

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