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Formby's Tung Oil: High or Low Gloss

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by nfgrufio, Apr 9, 2010.


  1. nfgrufio

    nfgrufio

    Jan 22, 2005
    I have an unfinished Allparts neck that I have been working on, rolling the fretboard, filing the frets and nut, etc. My next step is to finish it with Formby's Tung Oil but I went to the store and realized there was there was an option of high and low gloss and I have no idea which one would be the better choice for the necks finish.

    I know there is a lot of people here that have used tung oil for finishing necks/bodies so I was hoping someone could give me some advice on which one would be best. My first instinct is to go with the low gloss, because I am more of a fan of the satin type finishes rather than gloss, but then again I am no expert...

    Which did you used and how did it look/feel?
     
  2. Greenman

    Greenman

    Dec 17, 2005
    Ontario Canada
    Start with the low gloss and see how you like it. You can always go gloss if you wish.
     
  3. davemonkey

    davemonkey

    Mar 28, 2010
    Houston, TX
    How does Tung oil compare with something like "Tru-Oil"? I've used "Tru-Oil" to refinish a rifle and was very pleased with it, but it did darken the wood. I'd like to use Tung Oil for my bass, but I'm curious how it will finish out.

    -Dave
     
  4. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    Different strokes and a thousand opinions here but I would go with a coat of Watco. Let that dry well and follow up with many coats of lemon oil applied with 0000 steel wool or a 3M pad. Then, rub hard with your palm. You can seal the wood pretty well this way and get it smooth enough to get a decent gloss but it feels like no finish at all.
    I have a bass done this way five years ago and it's been very stable. I repeat the lemon oil treatment every few weeks.
     
  5. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Actual lemon oil or commercial lemon oil? There is a huge difference.
     
  6. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    I've used Formby's. What's the difference?
     
  7. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    I call limonene Lemon Oil and consumers often buy mineral oil with a "hint" of limonene as Lemon Oil.
     
  8. nfgrufio

    nfgrufio

    Jan 22, 2005
    See now you guys got me all confused! I've been hearing a lot about the Tru-Oil finishes as well, and have no idea what the comparisons between Tru-Oil and Tung Oil are, if any. Has anybody used the two and can give me and idea in the differences? I have not yet opened my bottle of Formbys Tung Oil yet so Im still debating if that is the right thing for the job. Is Tru Oil supposed to harden better or something like that?

    Also if anybody had any pictures of their wood finished in Tung or Tru Oil, I would love to see them!
     
  9. nfgrufio

    nfgrufio

    Jan 22, 2005
    After doing a little more research, it seems that Tru-Oil is the better alternative to Tung-Oil as it dries a little harder, offering a bit more protection to the wood. The only thing I am concerned about is the Tru-Oil coloring my neck a little more than I would like it to.
     
  10. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    There is no such thing as a hard oil.
     
  11. mongo2

    mongo2

    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I use Tru-Oil all the time on necks. It's a dark amber color out of the bottle but it doesn't darken maple much at all just a very slight amber tint with many coats. It will make wood look like it does when the wood is wetted with naptha to reveal the grain/figuring. It doesn't yellow with age.

    Tru-Oil is actually linseed oil (a paint carrier) mixed with other oils and behaves more like a varnish. I've had good luck using it with french polishing techniques.
     
  12. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    I start with straight tung oil and add some mineral spirits. The more mineral spirits the glossier and tougher the finish.
     
  13. you could get a piece of scrap wood and try it out. a piece of wood that's the same kind as your neck, get a rough idea. that's what i'd do.
     
  14. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    The truth is you'll like either one of them. I have used both as well as a number of other oil finishes and oil varnish mixtures. Practice on some scrap wood first.

    My favourite (just to make it even more confusing) is Walerlox Original Sealer Finish. It covers better and is more resistant to water and I think looks better. More expensive though and harder to find.
     
  15. I'd also like to hear some opinions from those who have used both tru and tung oil for similar projects, and what the process and results were like.
     
  16. davemonkey

    davemonkey

    Mar 28, 2010
    Houston, TX
    The Tru-Oil is a very dark amber (straight out of the bottle) and if Tung-Oil is lighter and equal in quality, I'd use the Tung-Oil. I have no experience with the Tung-Oil.

    Here's a sample pic of the gun I re-finished. It's a 1930's 410 that my Grandmother and Dad found in a road-ditch when he was a kid. The original finish was blistered, peeling, and the wood had HUGE gashes in it. I left most of the dents and dings (not like I need it to look new or anything...just needed to freshen it up).

    This was the first coat of Tru-Oil, on top of a mahogany-colored wood stain (original wood was kinda blonde). The oil soaked into the wood nearly completely and gave a satin look.
    IMG_2312.

    This next pic is after the 4th coat. High gloss (doesn't show up too well in the pic) and has a polyurethane-feel to it. The color difference between first and second pic is just a crappy camera, actual color is somewhere in bewteen the two pics. I've taken it out several times since to shoot (rain, sun, etc... ) and it still looks the same.
    IMG_2330.
     
  17. davemonkey

    davemonkey

    Mar 28, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I just found the Tru-Oil I had left over and oiled a strip down some of the cedar plank I'm usind for my bass build (the scrap section). I also put some down a strip of the scrap neckwood (maple and mahogany).

    I'll post pics when it dries (maybe get a good couple coats on it first) so you can see what it does before you decide.
     
  18. nfgrufio

    nfgrufio

    Jan 22, 2005
    That would be fantastic!
     
  19. davemonkey

    davemonkey

    Mar 28, 2010
    Houston, TX
    This is 4 coats of Tru-Oil. Obviously it was not applied per manufacturer's recommendations (that would have taken 4 days) but you can get a really good idea what that oil will do to the wood. The cedar is quite a bit darker, but there is not much difference on the maple and mahogany. On the neck wood, the right-most 2 stripes have the oil, the rest is untouched. The oiled cedar is obvious.

    If this were done correctly, with a wet-sand to start and sanding between coats and proper drying time, etc..., I'd expect a high-gloss finish in 6 coats, satin in 2 or 3.

    IMG_3787.
     
  20. I did a neck with Formby's high gloss. I ended up stripping it and using the low gloss. Much better feel, to my hands.
     

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