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Another convert to Tru Oil

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Dirk Diggler, Nov 22, 2004.

  1. Hello everyone,
    I want to take this time to thank all the knowledgable folks here that have suggested using tru oil. The stuff is the best! Quick drying and a great sheen, and boy does it make the Zebrawood grain scream! I've got about 5 coats on it and it's getting nice and shiny. By the way the cleanup is not too bad with dawn dish soap, on my hands that is. :)

    I've used Tung oil in the past and Poly and there is no comparison to the pain in the ass those 2 are to deal with. Between drying time, fixes, and cleanup. I'm never touching those again unless I have to.

    Now a question, I've seen it suggested to use a wax when I'm done oiling it. What wax are you folks using?
  2. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Funny I found tru oil a real pain to deal with. It took forever to build any depth with it. How are you doing it?.t
  3. Hey TJclem,
    I presanded everything with 350 grit or so. The first couple coats I put on very lightly, I put 2 coats on with no steel wooling inbetween to kind of build up a base coat. Then I really put it on thicker and by the 3rd coat it was looking good. Every coat since using 00 steel wool and just rough it up a bit, it started sealing nicely. You really need to put it on thicker than I thought, and until the whole surface is nice and wet and glossy looking. The first couple coats I was getting concerned, because the zebrawood I used is really dry and it was sucking it up big time. But once it sealed and got done drinking it up it's been great ever since.
    Oh yeah by the way I did it over 2 days so maybe that has something to do with the better build up on day 2. Also I used a piece of an old sock to apply it and used the same well soaked sock piece each day. That way the sock was well soaked and feeling tacky, maybe that helped. I really don't know what I did right since this is my first forray into using Tru Oil. But the output is stunning, and just what I was looking for. Now I'm tempted to make some zebrawood knobs and tru oil the snot out of them too. I'd be happy to post some pics when she's done if there is any interest.
  4. Groove Theory

    Groove Theory Grizzly Adams DID have a beard.

    Oct 3, 2004
    The Psychiatric Ward
    It sounds like you are in the same place I am at, I'm doing a zebrawood body w/ tru oil and I just put on my 4th coat about 20 minutes ago, also my first adventure w/tru oil, and the results are AWESOME! :D ....What I did is sand the body to 400 grit before application, then I applied the first 2 coats w/ 0000 steel wool, and after they both were completely dry, I sanded to from 320 to 600 grit, and kindof dry buffed it w/ 0000 steel wool, the next two coats were also put on w/ 0000 steel wool and buffed w/ paper towels, I plan on putting on the remaining coats w/ paper towels and sanding/wet sanding after every 2-3 coats...

    As for wax, I bought some Minwax Paste Finishing Wax that I'll apply after polishing with a polishing compound. I've heard that it works well over tru oil. You might want to read the thread titled "Begun preparing body for finish, What next?" or something like that, I don't remember it exactally, but Hambone goes into some detail on all of this, and I found it very helpful.
    I'd be very interested in some pics when you're done...
    Good luck with it all
  5. Hey yall, sounds like you're having fun. It really is when the figure starts to pop and you haven't done anything but wipe on an oil. :hyper:

    I can imagine the Zebra under the oil. I have some Zebra veneer and I tried a little TO to see and even on that thin stuff it looked great. Get the light to moving and the stuff will make you sea-sick.

    The sock is a great idea and for just the reasons you explained Dirk. The reservoir of extra oil makes it perfect for building the finish. The only thing that jumped out at me about your technique compared to mine is that I use 000 steel wool as next to last dry sanding pass and then 0000 for the first couple of sealing applications. THEN, I go into the soft build with paper towels. But if it's working for you and it gets you what you want then knock it out!

    Also, don't forget that as you come to the last coats and you think you've got what you want for build, you can use a polishing compound to buff up a great shine over what the oil does naturally. I use the Turtle Wax Polishing compound and apply it by hand - power application would be too aggressive for TO. I just rub it in until I see the gloss, then buff off with paper towels and it looks great. Then the wax just finishes it off and makes it less prone to fingerprints.
  6. wingnutkj


    Mar 27, 2003
    Hi, I have a couple of questions about this - Hambone, when you say you use 0000 for the first couple of sealing applications, do you actually apply the oil with the steel wool? And kind of related - when rubbing with the steel wool between coats, what do you guys do about the steel wool dust - does it just wipe off with a cloth, or get stuck in the oil? Do you only use it once the first couple of coats have sealed the wood and dried thoroughly?

    I did my Warmoth Jazz last summer with Liberon finishing wax (a UK equivalent of Tru Oil), sanding between coats. After a year of gigging, it's beginning to look a bit shabby, so I'm going to give it a few more coats of oil and attempt to get a higher gloss than I did last time.
  7. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Do any of you use the gray and white scuff pads instead of steel wool? I like them better...........t
  8. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Yep. Johnson's Paste Wax... in a can.

    I always just slather on the Tru-Oil with my fingers, then wash up with dish soap.

    The Birchwood Casey website has some interesting input on the use on the use of Tru-Oil.... but I just slop it on, let it dry, sand it, slop on more, let it dry, sand finer, and then wax it when done. Could not be easier. One coat in the morning, one at night.

    By the way, I learned about Tru-Oil 25 years ago from my dad working on his shotguns.

    Also, I just did a P-bass where I just 0000 Steel wooled the final coat to a satin finish and left it that way.
  9. Yes, I apply with the steel wool. The wool I use doesn't seem to leave much if any residue behind. I always wipe down after the application and I suppose that removes most anything else. But remember, I pore fill before oiling any open type wood - walnut or ash for instance. That leaves only the tight wood for the oil to penetrate. The steel wool doesn't get caught in these areas. I use this method as I was taught by my father (a gunsmith in his later years) for a satin sheen. The glossier finishing I learned came about later after I had seen how near "lacquered" some builders were able to achieve in their finishes.

    Wingnut, the repairability is one of the best things about TO. You don't even need to disassemble to get it looking good again. That's worth just about any amount of trouble to apply the stuff. :)
  10. wingnutkj


    Mar 27, 2003
    Thanks for the info Hambone!

    (And for anyone interested, the product I'm using is actually Liberon Finishing Oil, plus Liberon "Black Bison" wax. It doesn't appear to contain actual bison, unfortunately...)
  11. Thanks for the interest and tips everyone. I do have some 0000 steel wool, but I was going by the suggestions on the label. For my last coat I'll try and 0000 it.
    Like I said before this stuff looks great without waxing so I can imagine how it will shine after that. :) I wasn't daring enough to try wet sanding, but the concept makes sense for a more satin finish. It's been years since I used steel wool, I was stuck in paper land and forgot how usefull and durable it is. Also since I'm dry buffing with the wool, the remaining fibre strands are just wiped off with another fresh sock. The first coat I did with paper towel and it was leaving unwanted paper behind, so that's why the sock.
    And thanks Hambone for dropping in and of course your valuable suggestions!
    OK I'll stop sucking up to the Mod now. LOL :rolleyes:
  12. Hambone,

    What do you pore fill with before applying the Tru-Oil? I have filled the pores with the oil itself by sanding it while still wet. It's very difficult to completely fill the pores that way.

    I have some waterbased grain filler. I wonder if that would work under the Tru-Oil?
  13. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    How about some photos of that screamin' zebrawood?

    ( Boogie Nights is an underrated film)
  14. For both walnut and ash I like simple shellac. Shellac on walnut "warms" up the color tone. Walnut can be a little gray and the shellac introduces a nice amber to that to create a more reddish brown. On the ash, it fills the pores with a color that is very similar to the color of the capillary's themselves. This makes the ash a nice light overall tone. Just recently, I used the tail end of some black epoxy to fill some ash experiment boards. Man, it looked good with the strong black grain lines next to the golden brown of the softwood.

    Sure, you can use the waterbased fillers. If you were fearing a reaction between the water based filler and the oil itself, don't. Once cured the fillers are as inert as any other coating. I built an ash body for a guitar player friend and he filled the pores with Crystalac filler. Worked great!
  15. Sorry it took me so long to get the pictures, but here you go:
    By the way I didn't fill the pores and I really like the fact that there are pore holes. It looks more natural to me. The pictures really don't show the gloss well, but I also stopped at 5 coats since I didn't want a poly look, sort of in between.
    It really made the grain pop.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  16. teacherguy


    Feb 21, 2004
    Cincinnati, OH
    Very unusual in an organic sort of way!
    That grain really did pop it looks like!
    What was your inspiration for the body design?

  17. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    That looks killer... what a unique shaped body! You must get a LOT of comments on this.

    Isn't it amazingly gratifying to be able to create not just the music, but also the instrument you play?
    Great job! :hyper:
  18. Thanks guys!
    The inspiration for the shape comes from a wonderful Bob Frenz bass I have, well at least the top does. Since I modded the top side it reminded me of a Hippo, so it needed feet. Allthough some have called it moose antlers. :)
    Here's the bass that started it all.
    And heck yeah I feel twice as inspired playing my own sort of creation. The neck did come from an import tobias, so I cheated a bit. But now I'm convinced I have to create one from scratch, neck thru and all. Luckily the place I got the Zebrawood from also has Wenge and Purple heart. But the neck thing needs some carefull thinking and calculating before I start glueing stuff together.
    Any hints or tips from the wonderful luthier gang here?