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Finish that feels as unfinished as possible

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Will_White, Mar 19, 2014.


  1. Will_White

    Will_White

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    Salem, OR
    I am going to be buying an unfinished bass soon and I am going to try to give it a rustic look by burning it and doing some pyrography on it. I want the finish to protect the wood decently but I don't want to change how it feels to the touch very much, what do you guys recommend?
     
  2. Triad

    Triad Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2006
    Location:
    Europe
    Disclosures:
    Luthier
    Well, you could finish it with a scraper and leave it alone but it will get grey/dirty soon. I think one coat of oil or even only wax on it will slightly seal the grain without giving the "plastic feel" of synthetic finishes.
     
  3. StuartV

    StuartV Out of GAS!! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Location:
    Bristow, VA
    I'd go with 2 or 3 coats of Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil (i.e. gun stock oil - yes, the oil they use to finish wooden stocks on rifles, but with many more coats).
     
  4. interp

    interp Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Location:
    Garmisch, Germany
    I have a Road Worn Precision bass on which I removed the light lacquer finish on the back of the neck--down to the bare wood, sanding it to a very very smooth finish. I then applied multiple coats (5 or 6) of boiled linseed oil, wiping the excess oil off and using 0000 steel wool between coats. The neck is the smoothest and most natural feeling one I've ever played. I occasionally touch up the oil finish, but it's been two years and the wood is in beautiful condition.
     
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  6. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered thumper Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    No more than two coats of Formby's Tung Oil, the satin version. It will darken the wood somewhat, but the feel is very natural.
     
  7. floydman

    floydman

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2002
    Location:
    southeast CT
    +1

    +1 Also to Tru-Oil, but that does have a higher solids content which tends to feel more like a built up film finish the more coats you put on. keep it thin and it'll be great.

    My Formby's tung oil finished neck is my favorite yet. Feels like smooth, satiny maple. you have to expect that the level of protection from dings and such provided by this super thin, in the wood finish, is lower than a hard film finish. plus side is that you are that much closer to the wood, each time you pick up the instrument.
     
  8. Will_White

    Will_White

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    Salem, OR
    Obviously it won't protect it from dings and scratches as well as a hard finish but how does it do against dirt and grime and, while this shouldn't happen it is a possibility, stray drinks.
     
  9. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Location:
    northern CA
    Disclosures:
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    I like the sound of that! I've made artwork in the past using ground-based fireworks on a surface to create cool burn patterns. Camilla Flowers I think they are called - they buzz around the ground like the Tasmanian Devil (cartoon character) while changing colors.
     
  10. floydman

    floydman

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2002
    Location:
    southeast CT
    I think it should be just fine against normal dirt, grime, drinks etc. main thing would be as with any fine finish, if something spills or gets on it, clean it off asap. the nice thing about an oil finish, boiled linseed or tung oil, is that it is very user serviceable, e.g. no spray equipment required. if you need to do a touch up or want to refresh the whole neck, just clean off any grime, and sand if necessary, and apply your touch up or full recoat.
     
  11. Will_White

    Will_White

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    Salem, OR
    I don't think I will do anything like that on this project, because it's an archtop but that gives me ideas. Just to bring out the grain, a logo on the headstock, some scorching like it got to close to a campfire, and maybe a saying or motto on the soundboard with a torch blued steel truss rod cover.
     
  12. gebass6

    gebass6

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    N.E.Illinois
    Way back in the way back, when I was 23,I had a wild idea.I took a propane torch to a stripped down bare wood bass body and scorched it in selective places.I then wanted to apply a clear reddish/orange finish,but didn't have the finish or sprayer.I remember I had located a local guy who repaired violins,cellos and upright basses.I took it to him to apply that violin varnish to my bass.

    It turned out alright except that the finish tended to check and crack on the most charred burns!It was still pretty cool!

    I still think that a sparsely scorched surface with a clear reddish/orange lacquer would look very cool.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2014
  13. Nidan

    Nidan

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2008
    Location:
    Duluth , Ga
    +1 on the Tru-oil , I've also used French polish sanded to 1200 and buffed for a nice feeling natural look while still sealing the wood.
     
  14. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    Just my personal opinion, Formby's low gloss is a better product for this application. Tru-Oil is better for a high or semi gloss sheen. A couple coats of Formbys's will feel like it has no finish at all. The bass in my avatar is finished in Formby's low gloss.
     
    Morten_B likes this.
  15. pasco jacorius

    pasco jacorius

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2010
    True oil or high grade poly satin
     
  16. Moley13

    Moley13

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2014
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    I'm about to do a Tru-Oil finish on a beat around I'm tricking out. I'll let you know how it goes, if you haven't already decided by then!
     
  17. Morten_B

    Morten_B Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2011
    Location:
    Aarhus, Denmark, Europe
    I have worked with both tung-oil and tru-oil, they are very different products... For a finish that look as unfinished as possible I will recommend tung-oil (dries slowly though) and maybe wax on top. This gives that ''raw'' look and feel. Tru-oil dries fast and is wonderful to work with, but it becomes glossy after just a few coats, more like a laquer, and to me it does not sound like what is needed here. That's my experience...
     
  18. reverendrally

    reverendrally

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Location:
    Sydney Australia
    What, sort of like this bass?

    [​IMG]

    Reclaimed Kauri pine + Butane blow torch + oil/poly mix handrubbed finish.

    Basically the mix is equal parts;
    Boiled linseed oil
    Satin polyurethane finish
    Mineral turpentine
    Pretty much the same as truoil only cheaper and takes a little longer to dry.

    I can't remember how many coats I put on. Maybe six coats? Out of all the basses I've built, my wife loved this finish the most.

    More pics of it here...
    http://s279.photobucket.com/user/stpeterscia/library/Fundabirds?sort=3&page=1
     

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