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Ideas for refinishing neck needed

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by shoulderpet, Jun 19, 2020.

  1. shoulderpet


    Sep 24, 2015
    Hi all

    In an uncharacteristic idea for me I decided to strip the finish on a satin finish neck and refinish in a tinted gloss varnish as the original neck is a very pale maple colour, however after 3 attempts I have found that (probably because I suck at this kind of thing) I just cannot get an even finish so I have stripped the neck back to bare wood again and looking for easy refinishing ideas that I cannot easily bodge, I was thinking a clear gloss varnish would be hard to mess up but am wondering if there are any other options I should try, maybe there is some kind of wax I could use that will seal the wood and give it a nice gloss? I was thinking of beeswax but I dont think it will hold up for long? thank you
  2. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    quite the reverse. a clear gloss varnish is very easy to mess up. varnish meaning an actual short-oil tung/linseed oil alkyd varnish -not something advertised as something it is not.

    what's your definition of gloss? clear gloss varnish can look like a mirror in about 2 months of work. waxes etc... will only give you a satin sheen.
    Guild B301 likes this.
  3. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    I use a water base satin polyurethane that I can wipe one with a lint free cloth. First day gets two light coats a few hours apart. Each day after that gets one more light coat. Each coat gets a new cloth for the application. I hang the neck the entire time. a screw in the mounting holes and a cord tied around the screw. while wiping on the poly I stick a finger in one of the tuner holes to control the neck. It's not gloss but it looks great. I do the body the same way.
  4. Wipe on polyurethane or TruOil would be good choices. If you keep at it a bit TruOil can be brought up to some amount of gloss.
  5. shoulderpet


    Sep 24, 2015
    Thanks, in that case I will rule out varnish, a mild sheen is fine, I just want something that doesnt look quite so flat as a straight satin finish
  6. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    Tru oil wiped on with a cotton rag (wear gloves!) is probably about the hardest to mess up finish. Get enough coats and it will become kinda-glossy. Plan on sanding every half dozen coats or so, and shoot for 15 - 20 coats total (it sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but it goes quick). Bonus, it will also have a slight amber tint to help get rid of the pale maple color you don't like.

    Wiped on satin oil based poly is probably just as easy, but less work (builds quicker, so maybe 4 - 6 coats total) but won't get quite as glossy.

    There are gloss wipe on poly finishes available, but the results might not be satisfactory unless you're willing to put a lot of effort into post-finish work (buffing). Really, getting a good gloss is about having the right product, letting it cure correctly, and buffing it well afterwards. High gloss takes some skill. You've said you don't want a satin finish, but if you're after a "warm sheen" then satin poly will be more than glossy enough.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd get some of both, try them on some test pieces, and go with the one you like the most. Experimenting on an actual neck is a bit of a one shot deal as you've found out...
  7. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    ok. Tru-Oil as stated is a good choice and is pretty darn easy. Or Minwax Wipe on Poly is also real easy. In fact I just finished a Japanese styled end table this weekend with it. The finish was their "Satin Gloss" and the clients were extremely pleased with the smoothness of the result.

    Of the two, the Tru-Oil is going to show more gloss then the WO Poly but as stated you need to work it. Minwax does make a "gloss" version of the stuff but unless it's applied really cleanly; dust, drip and streak free, you are still going to have to de-nib it and cut it back knocking down the gloss anyway.

    The traditional end process for most hand applied finishes involves #0000 steel wool but i highly advise taking the neck off if you can to avoid getting steel bits on your pickups. Or at least cover them up with good tape. Synthetics generally don't seem to compare to steel wool but can shed nearly as much. For me I use sand paper and work the grits up from 320 to about 800 but you can take it further with care and appropriate lubricant and paper.
    Guild B301 likes this.
  8. Before you do anything - search TalkBass for “refinish” or “poly”. There were a lot of previous discussions on this. I also prefer those old high gloss polyurethane finishes like Fender did in the ‘70s.