Everything I need to know about Oil Finishes

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by meltsakana, Jun 4, 2003.

  1. meltsakana


    Sep 3, 2002
    Hiya. My new bass has an oil finish, and it is made of swamp ash and maple. I don't know much about this kind of finish, and was wondering if any of you could provide information on how to take care of the bass. The bass seems to be a little more sensitive to dings; just pressing down my thumb nail leaves a little mark on the surface. I've heard refinishing can take care of some of the wear on an oil finish...is this true? How do I refinish my bass? How often do I need to do it?

    And, what is the deal with instrument wax? Will this offer more protection for the bass?

    Thanks for your help!
  2. mikgag

    mikgag Guest

    Mar 25, 2002
    If it's tung-oil like we use, you should only have to give it quick coat every year or so.
  3. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    I was wondering - I think some builders use an oil finish, followed by wax. Does any body know- wouldn't the wax have to be stripped of somehow before applying another coat of oil finish?
  4. mikgag

    mikgag Guest

    Mar 25, 2002

    I would imagine. I don't see the point of putting wax over oil. It's one or the other:confused: We use only tung-oil in either a matte/natural or high gloss/laquery finish
  5. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    The wax will come off with mineral spirits. I have found that wax deepens the lustre of an oil finish, and it provides a little added moisture protection. I recommend anyone using an oil finish at least try some paste wax (like Butcher's brand) to see if you like the results. Most of the time, I prefer the waxed over the unwaxed on my basses.
  6. meltsakana


    Sep 3, 2002
    Thanks for your responses, guys! Any other opinions?

    If wax and oil can coexist in harmony, what are some nice wax brands? Do some offer more protection than others?
  7. My standard favorite finish now is oil with wax. I use Minwax paste on my finishes and it really sets it off. I do a little different method of applying though. I take a page from the Army boot method of polishing and that's to use a hair dryer as I apply coats. I use the hair dryer to warm the surface slightly and to dry the wax. 3 or 4 applied and dried coats are put on before you begin to buff. Then you can really bring up a solid shine without getting down to the oil at all.

    My new chambered walnut Jazz is just about done and it sports this finish. The pics should prove out my technique.