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how to finish this bass?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Wademeister63, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. Wademeister63


    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    I've been looking around but so far haven't found much helpful info so maybe someone can point me in the right direction.

    I'm going to build a bass with a curly redwood top. The wood is very soft and I want to put a hard finish on it. I see that a lot of Cirrus basses have redwood tops and they seem to be OK. What kind of finish are they using? Couldn't find that on the Peavy site. It did look like their satin finish is hand rubbed oil. I want satin, but I'm thinking oil isn't what I want on the redwood.

    I'm also going with a bound ebony fretboard. I don't want to put any finsh on the board, and I'm not sure what happens with the binding. I have the white fiber binding from Allied Luthrie and will put ebony side dots in it. So where does the finish normally stop, and how can I prevent having a step where the finish ends? If I feather it out, won't there be a visible line somewhere? Might not be too bad if I leave the corner of the binding hard, but I was hoping to roll the edge a bit like on my older G&L bass. The small radius on the edge really makes it comfortable.

    Frets go in after the finish is complete with this type of construction, don't they?
  2. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    TruOil and then Polyurethane.
    There were a few threads about it, try another search.
  3. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    I'd use only a couple coats of Tru Oil and several coats of Minwax wipe on poly.
  4. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Yes, say 6-8-10 coats of oil for the figure, and then the poly for protection. Oil is fun and nice, but poly will be the harder part...
  5. Is the poly difficult to do over the oil? Is there anything special that needs to be done? I'm guessing that if you are doing poly over the oil, you wouldn't do the wax over the last coat of oil then, right?

    Hope I'm not hijacking, but my brother-in-law just put the 6th coat of oil on a g***** he made with a redwood top, and I would hate to see him not do something he should be doing. This is his first oil finish.
  6. Wademeister63


    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    It's no hijack as far as I'm concerned.

    Thanks for the info guys, sounds like a good plan. This redwood seems very porus, so I'll be thinning the TruOil and probably doing double the coats. How do you know when it has enough oil and it ready to spray?

    Also what about that neck binding thing? I don't want to have a step in the finish where the finish ends and I'm a little concerned about adhesion of the oil/poly finish on the plastic binding. It said fiber, but I broke a tiny piece of it off and it's sure enough plastic.
  7. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    If it's very porous, then using a pore / grain filler and then sanding level and oiling might be the way to go. Or put a thick coat of oil (undiluted) on, wait till it dries completely, then some more, and only then sand.

    There's not a given number how many coats to put on. After the first couple of coats, which deepen the figure, I don't think it does change much. It's hardening, yes, but the film it builds is rather thin.

    Oil is easier, but poly is a b***h. Well, it was for us, anyway. There were brush marks, and when we sanded back, we broke through the previous coat faster than we reached the bottom of the brush marks :rollno: flows, drops here and there, etc.
    Then we said enough, let"s try spraying. Well... it looks like the drops were too big.... it's sort of a sea-from-a-distant-aerial-shot mildly wavy, uneven surface, but I don't care anymore. It looks even cool (well not really, I just want to convince myself that it's cool so I won't want to refin it, but it's not really working :eyebrow: :p :D )

    As for binding, I have no idea...
  8. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Redwood is not porous as much as it has lots of airspace inside of it. I don't think you're need a grain filler but you will need to pour in a lot of oil. You'll know when to stop when the oil is no longer being absorbed into the redwood.

    I don't know how/why anyone uses the wipe-on poly. The stuff is a major pain in the ass as far as I'm concerned, too.
  9. T-34


    Aug 11, 2005
    France, Paris region
    I prefer fast drying oils (they are actually oil-varnish mixtures) : scandinave oil, hardfloor oil etc. Anything with drying time of 3 to 6 hours works fine for me.
  10. My brother-in-law is using tung oil, and the thing looks outrageous!!! He has decided against the poly and is just going to keep pouring oil on it. 7 coats now, and still not quite there.
  11. philthygeezer


    May 22, 2002
    I agree after trying to put wipe-on poly on my P-bass project after about 11 coats of Tru Oil. The flame and bird's eye doesn't pop as much as before and the colour lightened some from a deep gold: it took some of the amber colour out. At least it hardened the wood to where I didn't put any more scratches in it with a fingernail.

    I've got it passable but there's still little dust pricks and imperfections.

    What would be a better way to do the final gloss finish? I'm seriously thinking of taking it to a body shop and having it sprayed in clearcoat. Argh.