Finishing Wenge neck - oil & wax?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by krovx, Nov 25, 2019.


  1. krovx

    krovx Thump or Bust Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2003
    Michigan, USA
    I had a J style wenge neck built for me by Freestone guitars. Compound radius & mandolin frets on a wenge neck and FB. I wanted a neck that felt like my 98 Warwick. Been researching how the neck was finished I get various answers. I see some as oil, or wax, or both? I have used wax (minimal) on my Warwick since I owned it and have loved the neck. Looking at the grain on this new neck I can see where the wax would be helpful to fill in. I was thinking of using a oil and then slightly using some wax like I would on my Warwick. I know a little goes a long way. Figured I would check in as many of the posts I was finding on here were from 14+ years ago.
     
    Jeff Siddall likes this.
  2. MPU

    MPU

    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    Oil or oil+wax work both fine. Just let the oil cure well before waxing.
     
  3. dwizum

    dwizum

    Dec 21, 2018
    Do you still have your 98 Warwick? Can you post some up close photos of the finish? Also up close photos of the new neck?

    I wouldn't bet on using wax to grain fill. If you want an oil finish, you should probably grain fill first or fill with the oil (by applying a few coats with wet/dry sandpaper).
     
    Jisch likes this.
  4. roffe

    roffe

    Mar 9, 2011
    Stavanger, Norway
    Tru-oil is a great neck finish. It will fill the grain by itself to some extent, but it takes a lot of coats unless you "sand in" the oil.
     
  5. rudy4444

    rudy4444

    Mar 13, 2012
    Central Illinois
    washjayb, dwizum and krovx like this.
  6. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    Does wenge even need to be oiled?

    I oiled wenge once. It turned black, and lost alot of the features of the grain
     
  7. krovx

    krovx Thump or Bust Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2003
    Michigan, USA
    Fascinating. I have a heat gun and would want to make sure not to burn the wood. Would this be a way to protect maple and other woods that require a finish?
     
  8. rudy4444

    rudy4444

    Mar 13, 2012
    Central Illinois
    I use it most often on necks, particularly open pored woods, but you could use it for any surface. It's best to do it first on a test piece so you get the feel for how much heat is necessary to warm the wood up to the temperature that melts the wax. It's a very forgiving process and quite easy to do. You don't need to come anywhere near the temperature that would discolor the wood.

    Do a test piece and see if you like the finish before committing to doing an instrument. If you're looking for protection I'd use a more robust finish for the body portion of an instrument. Any wax or oil finish won't provide the mechanical protection of a lacquer-type finish.
     
    krovx likes this.
  9. krovx

    krovx Thump or Bust Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2003
    Michigan, USA
    About how much wax would you need to do a bass neck?
     
  10. DeathSlanger

    DeathSlanger

    Nov 17, 2018
    I got a wenge neck and it will never see any wax or oil, it feels perfect as it is...
     
    MonetBass likes this.
  11. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    Same here. I imagine it already has satin poly or tung oil on it, but even if it doesn't, I wouldn't use anything other than those two things on it.
     
  12. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    Same here
     
  13. DeathSlanger

    DeathSlanger

    Nov 17, 2018
    Actually it’s completely unfinished, and has that incredible “soft” feel of finely-sanded wood. It’s heavy tho!
     
    MonetBass likes this.
  14. rudy4444

    rudy4444

    Mar 13, 2012
    Central Illinois
    Pure beeswax and Carnauba are sold in block form. You can often get beeswax from local beekeepers is 1 ounce sticks and larger 1 pound blocks from suppliers like Dadant (beekeeping equipment) or even Walmart. The Carnauba is sold where woodturning supplies are handled.

    It takes very little wax; even a small block would do a few necks. In the process I show at the link most of what is initially applied gets wiped off in the re-heating / polishing steps.

    You can get unfinished wood to have a great under-hand feel, but there's something to be said for using wax as a "sealant" to prevent sweat and other grime from being absorbed into a totally bare neck. Ultimately it's for the owner to chose, so it's good to take all those points into consideration and make your choice wisely.

    I'm not a big fan of Wenge, having used it a few times. It tends to splinter when it is being worked and always feels a bit rough to me if it isn't pore filled and finished. I prefer woods that aren't as open pored such as walnut for a nice under-hand feel even when not filled. The heat applied wax does a pretty fair job of pore filling in the process of application.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2019
  15. krovx

    krovx Thump or Bust Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2003
    Michigan, USA
    A few weeks ago I got around to doing the neck via your method. Very satisfied with the results. Filled in the grain and the wood didnt feel like it lost its oily goodness. Debating about trying it on some maple guitar necks.
     
  16. Rôckhewer

    Rôckhewer Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Owner/Builder- RockHewer Custom Guitars LLC
    I agree with Rudy.. that a wenge neck needs to be sealed against sweat & humidity in general.
    But... I personally wouldn't "fill" the grain.
    The open grain of wenge is one of the coolest things about an all wenge neck.
    Makes it fast. ... open grain = less surface tension.
    I would penetrate a couple coats of Tru-Oil into it...
    ...done.
     
  17. Rôckhewer

    Rôckhewer Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Owner/Builder- RockHewer Custom Guitars LLC
    Oh... woops.. retro-thread. Didn't see your last response.
    Glad it came out well for you.
     
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