Fretless board wipe-on coating?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Sonorous, Dec 11, 2004.

  1. Sonorous


    Oct 1, 2003
    Denton, TX
    I did a search and found some things about epoxy coating a FB, except for the actual procedure.

    Can you do a wipe-on application of the epoxy? If not, are there other wipe-on alternatives?

    Also, how long would it take to dry/cure? What would it look like?
  2. andvari7


    Aug 28, 2004
    There's not really a wipe-on epoxy, but there other options.
    Minwax (and this is not a plug for Minwax; I just know it exists) has a wipe-on polyurethane. I couldn't tell you much more than that, though.
  3. Sonorous


    Oct 1, 2003
    Denton, TX
    I've got the wipe-on polyurethane, I used it to finish the body of a different bass. I just wasn't sure if it was suited for a fretboard. I'll give it a try.
  4. Jazzbasslover


    Dec 8, 2004
    I've been researching ways to coat the finger board of my bass lately and am still undecided as to which method I will use. In the meantime, I've put a few coats of Tru Oil on my fretboard until I decide. The Tru Oil isn't permanenet at all and from what I understand has to be re-applied somewhat often but it will protect the fingerboard with 3 or 4 coats. That will work until I decide which method to use. How I did it (there are several ways):

    1) Remove strings, wipe fretboard down with a slightly damp rag or heavy paper towel to remove debris from the fretboard. Futher inspect for debris and remove if necessary.
    2) Sand the board lightly with 500 grit sand paper or emeory cloth just to make it smooth. Go lightly; you don't want to remove any wood.
    3) Mask off fretboard and nut with low stick masking tape.
    4) Apply Tru Oil in a single THIN coat with a lint free cloth.Too thick of a coat will take way to long to dry. Let dry for 3 hours instead of two as suggested on the bottle. With this first thin coat you'll barely notice that the oil was even applied after it has dried because the porous rosewood will have absorbed most of it.
    5) After the coat has dried sand again with 500 grit to smooth.
    6) Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have at least 4 coats. 5 would be better. This can be done in a day.

    Pros: Protects the board, easy to apply, makes the wood look very nice, won't hurt the wood

    Cons: Not permanent, if you play everyday I would apply a new coat or two every few weeks. Requires patience and time.

    Hope this helps until you find a more permanent solution.
  5. PasdaBeer


    Nov 2, 2002
    Santa Rosa California
    SandStorm Designs
    ive been playing around with regular old super strength clear 2 hour epoxy...

    just mix it up, spread it on with a bondo card, then squeegee it in to the pores of the wood, letit dry, then with a radius block, sand the radius to the board again, and polish out with 500 grit, work your way up to 1500.

    worked really goot on my test peices ( kiln dried redwood )
  6. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    I use Wenge and Bubinga for some of my fingerboards. To fill the pores of those woods I use slow set CA glue. I spread it on with a credit card then use 400 and 600 grit paper to smooth it out then buff it with the gray and then the white scuff pads..........t
  7. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    You could try spar varnish. The marine stuff. It dries and cures pretty slowly but it can be applied with a brush and polishes out pretty nicely. I like to thin it a bit before applying.
  8. coating a fretless fingerboard with epoxy is a very simple process thanks to it's self leveling properties.

    here's how to do it:
    Do not WIPE it on, use a foam brush to spread it.

    1. Mix the epoxy as instructed by the manufacturer in small batches 1-2 onces at a time (BE VERY PRECISE ON THIS).
    2. when you have a gel like consistency pour it on the fingerboard (you did mask it beforehand, didn't you?) and using your foam brush spread it evenly all over. Leave to cure until it's tacky to the touch (and does not transfer to your finger, test this over the masked area by touching it and see if your finger sticks, if it transfers to the finger it's still not ready). It is important not to let it over cure between coats. But if you do (if you left it like 24 hours or more) you can sand to 120 grit before re-coating.
    3. repeat step 1-2 3 or 4 times or until you get the thickness you want. Leave it to cure for at least 24 hours (or the full cure time specified by your manufacturer).
    4. Sand level with 100 grit to remove all dust particles that had set in and get a level surface then gradually increase grits until you get to about 800.
    5. Buff out using medium polishing compound and then fine (I used brass polishing creams for this and it turned out great). You can hand buff with an old t-shirt or hardware store soft rag.
    6. enjoy the mwah.

    my .02
  9. Sonorous


    Oct 1, 2003
    Denton, TX
    I went ahead and used the wipe-on poly because I wasn't getting any responses. I masked the edges, buffed with a 00 grade steel wool. Applied about 6 coats total.

    So far its working fine.
  10. Groove Theory

    Groove Theory Grizzly Adams DID have a beard.

    Oct 3, 2004
    The Psychiatric Ward
    I have a fretless that I am contemplating doing an epoxy coating on, it's a wenge fingerboard....

    My question is, Does coating the fretboard with epoxy like this change the sound/tonal qualities either positivly or negativly at all?

  11. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    I happen to think epoxy changes the sound a lot. I can always hear it.
    To me, it adds a nasty attack to the notes, so I leave my fretless bare. Of course, Gary Willis and Jaco both sound amazing, so it can't be all bad. . .

  12. Groove Theory

    Groove Theory Grizzly Adams DID have a beard.

    Oct 3, 2004
    The Psychiatric Ward
    Hmmm...well I am working with a wenge fingerboard with a very open grain, I would like to fill the pores at least to prevent getting dirt and junk built up in there....I've read a little bit about people using CA glue on wenge fretless boards (mentioned earlier in this thread)......If I decided to do it this way, what CA glue (slow set) is the absolute best to use for durability and ease of application...I've been looking into epoxy and I dont have a super precise way to ensure that the mixture is correct so I'm leaning towards the CA glue to prevent problems....any help would be great...
  13. pixelpounder


    Aug 26, 2006
    Chitown area
    Just finished my defret job and used CA glue to finish the board. It came out great, but it was very time consuming, because I kept sanding through the glue. After I got the hang of it, I'm very pleased with the results. I just put rounds on it and the board seems to be holding it's own.
  14. It was my understanding that Spar varnishes weren't as hard as others. Is that true?