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Advice on maintaining tung oiled koa?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by big90sbasshorns, May 11, 2011.

  1. Hi,

    I've tried using the search function to find information on maintaining a tung oil finish on koa, but after a few permutations of keywords I wasn't able to find threads relating to the care of the finish (only ones relating to applications of the tung oil).

    To make a long story short, I have a late model Carvin bass made of koa which has a Carvin factory applied tung oil finish.

    Over the years it seems to me that the bass has taken on a slightly darker hue and a sweet smell, for lack of a better term. I actually like the subdued darker look more than when the bass was new and almost light amber, but the subtle flame in the koa almost seems matted over and has lost its 3-D quality.

    Can anyone recommend a product that I can use to bring back the glisten without adversely affecting the tung oil finish?

  2. devo_stevo


    Aug 2, 2006
    Northern Utah
    Builder: Brumbaugh Guitarworks
    Have you tried a good waxing? Always seems to make my Warwick look like new again.
  3. No I haven't, I don't know anything about finishes, but I was always under the impression that tung oil is not to be waxed.

    I use high-grade carnuba on my other instruments which have a normal clear coat on them, but I just can't imagine putting wax on a koa/tung oil combo.
  4. Anomalous Bass

    Anomalous Bass

    Mar 29, 2011
    You can wax over a tung oil finish, id just make sure the tung oil is fully cured before hand.
  5. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    For this application (waxing over oiled wood) I'd recommend a paste furniture wax. I use Briwax ( http://www.briwax.com/ ), usually get mine from Woodcraft, but it can be had elsewhere.

    Buff the wood first with 0000 steel wool, then apply the wax (I like the lint-free blue shop towels for this application) in layers, buffing back with clean towels after each coat. Repeat until you reach the desired sheen.
  6. Thank you for the suggestion! I took at look at their product lineup and of the 2 that are appropriate I'm not sure which one I should pick, would you recommend the original, or the toluene-free version?

    Now that I know it's okay to wax a tung oiled finish I've been researching to find the best waxes, in addition to the Briwax I've also found Renaissance microcrystalline wax - which from reading their product page sounds like some really high-end stuff! It looks like that might also be appropriate for what I want to do.

    Are you familiar with their product, can you make a recommendation either way...Briwax vs. microcrystalline?

    Thanks for everyone's input!
  7. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com

    +1. Or there's also, "butcher's bowling wax". What I do is strip the old wax residue, then apply about 5 or 6 consecutive coats with a small electric buffer (apply one, let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then apply the next and do not buff the previous coats off). Once it's all on, let the last coat sit on for about 20 minutes and buff the residue off with a microfiber towel. leaves a nice satin finish.

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