How to Finish Koa Wood

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Koa is a fast-growing hardwood tree native to Hawaii. Koa is used for furniture, instruments and ornamental applications. Koa wood is one of the most popular and highly sought after woods in Hawaii. The beauty of the wood requires very little finishing. Adding stain to the surface of the wood is unnecessary. Koa wood is light brown to reddish in color, and looks rich and warm when finished with a coat of oil and a clear top coat.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • Rags
  • Sandpaper
  • Tung oil
  • Rags
  • Polyurethane

Combine water and a teaspoon of dish soap in a small container. Dip a rag into the solution, and wring it to remove excess water. The rag should be damp. Clean the koa wood with the rag to remove loose dirt.

Sand the koa with fine grit sandpaper until the surface is smooth. Run your bare hand over the surface of the wood. Sand the wood until it feels smooth to the touch.

Rub tung oil into the surface of the wood with a soft cloth. Allow the oil to sit on the wood until it is completely absorbed.

Add another coat of tung oil. Allow the oil to soak into the wood overnight.

Pour two tablespoons of polyurethane onto a scrub sponge. Rub the polyurethane into the wood. Allow it to dry overnight.

Sand the koa with fine grit sandpaper. Remove the sanding dust with a damp rag. Apply a second coat of polyurethane using the same technique. Allow it to dry overnight. Repeat the top coat application process one to two more times.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sanding the wood between coats of polyurethane will produce a smooth, even finish.
  • Koa can also be finished with just the tung oil. Skip the polyurethane entirely and reapply the tung oil every six months to prevent the wood from drying out.

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