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How do you finish your wenge necks?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by wilser, Jul 3, 2005.

  1. Hello,
    Working on a wenge neck now (as some of you might have seen on the scarf joing pictorial). It's my first time making a wenge neck. Since it's so porous, my accustomed method will not work. It's also my first bolt-on (second really, but the first is a maple neck and it's being built more or less at the same time), so applying a finish that's different than the body's is not a problem.

    What's the best option for protecting wenge necks? I'm looking for long term moisture protection here. Tung oil? tru-oil? wipe-on poly? fill-grain and lacquer? what-not?

    Feedback is greatly appreciated.
  2. ArtisFallen


    Jul 21, 2004
    according to warmoth, wenge does not need to be finished, posibly because it's so resistant to the elements. i guess that means you can put any kind of finish you want on it.

    I played an Ibanez soundgear with a wenge/ purpleheart neck, and i think they either oild it, or just left it unfinished because there wasn't any noticeable gloss like a poly or a laquer on it.
  3. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    I'm planning on using tru-oil with mine (wenge/purpleheart). I've got a few scrap pieces I'll try first. I definitely be interested in hearing what route you go...

    EDIT: I posted pics of my neck here, then thought that was in bad taste without asking. So, here's the link to my ongoing build for pics of the neck :D
  4. Pete skjold

    Pete skjold Gold Supporting Member

    May 29, 2004
    Warsaw Ohio
    Ihave and still use Tru-oil on wenge and it works very well . Like it has been said you don't NEED to put a finish on it . If I was not going to put a finish on it I would still sand it to a shine (600 grit ) and wax it with minwax paste wax . It can be reapplied as needed and over time it fills the deep open pours .

    Just my two cents , and there are many other procedures .

  5. Audere

    Audere Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 7, 2005
    South Beach, OR
    Owner: Audere Audio
    I have a Tru-oiled Wenge - Purple Heart neck but I am not sure I would want the "standard" polished neck feel. The strong grain pattern in the Wenge actually has become a sort of a neck position locator system for my thumb. I can see how someone would perceive this as lower quality however.
  6. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    I owned a warmoth neck in wenge for a short time. It was unfinished and I thought it felt great. It had been around for at least 3 years when I got it and it showed no signs of in-stability from being unfinished. There's nothing un-professional about raw wenge.
  7. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    The 90% wenge thru-neck is still holding up strong on my 18 year old Warwick, with only a dash of wax finish.

  8. as far as i know wenge doesnt need to be finished at all, and i like the feel of mine currently so i doubt i will finish mine either. id see if you like unfished feel of it 1st, and if you dont put coat of TO on it or whatever you like best.
  9. The bass I have with a wenge neck is unfinished and holding strong almost 10 years after it was assembled. I like the feel of it myself, but I'm not much for laquer anyways.
  10. hmm, I guess it would be fine if I leave it unfinished. But I think I'll put light coats of tru-oil, just to try and be consistent. I really don't like the idea of an unfinished instrument. Even more the neck!

    Thanks everyone for the feedback.
  11. thedoctor


    Jun 20, 2005
    Wilser, if you haven't oiled it yet, I advise you don't until you play it. I have tried several times to get the thumb/palm friction that is natural to a raw wenge neck by abusing all the rules of applying laquer. Like MAJOR orange-peel, rubbing it with cheeseclothe just before it sets, major-grit sandpaper after it is cured, etc. and nothing feels as secure as the wenge necks I have used raw. You can always go to an oil or hard-finish later but it is hard to go back. IMHO
  12. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    the ones i've done i put a light coat of shellac on the neck -- just to help shield the wood from humidity changes a little bit. it gives an ever-so-slightly glossy feel, which i like.
  13. thedoctor


    Jun 20, 2005
    Shellac? Hmmm.... Never even gave it a thought. Might be just the ticket for wenge. The furthest I have ever gone on wenge is Tung oil, and not much of that. Shellac would have that softer, grabby feel and could be a great choice. If I had an extra neck to screw with, I would give it a try for sure.
  14. rub or spray?
  15. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    rubbed on, sort of french polish style. the shellac i use is actually sold as a sanding sealer... i prefer it because it's very clear, with no amber or blue hues to alter the color of the wood. if i remember correctly, after sanding the neck to around 1000 grit, i put on two coats, sanding with 1000 grit after each coat. the end result is a semi-gloss appearance, which then becomes glossy with the oils from your hands through playing.
  16. thedoctor


    Jun 20, 2005
    I will be damned. I got a broken wenge neck in that I replaced with a laminate unit and tried some shellac-based sanding sealer on the broken headstock and it is wonderful. You can make it feel like anything you want, short of hard laquer. I must advise that it takes two coats and at least a couple days before you go for the final sand/rubout. Very cool, schuyler!

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