Is boiled linceed oil bad for rosewood fingerboards?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by ppanousos, Jan 22, 2006.

  1. ppanousos


    Apr 10, 2005
    I've heard that boiled linceed oil softens rosewood fingerboards.Is that true?Linceed oil is the best thing i've found so far for conditioning my fingerboard.:bassist:
  2. why not use lemon oil (like Dunlop 65) and only apply it a couple of times a year...

    I'm sure that if you used the linseed oil sparingly, you'd have no issues...

    but often do you really need to treat a fretboard? once a year, is probably enough.
  3. Wait till you have the bass left in a hot trunk. That neck is going to get mighty sticky as the oil softens.
  4. kjones

    kjones Supporting Member

    Dec 4, 2004
    Boiled linseed oil is what Roger Sadowsky recommends for conditioning rosewood and ebony fingerboards. He says using it 2-3 times/year is plenty.

    IMO, anyone who leaves his bass in a hot trunk is doing himself a severe disservice. My rule of thumb is never leave my bass in the truck when I wouldn't leave my kids in it. If they're coming out, so does my bass. My bass gets to visit a lot of restaurants after gigs. ; )
  5. Masher88

    Masher88 Believe in absurdities and you commit atrocities

    May 7, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    The Lemon Oil works really well...and smells like a warm spring day! I got a little bottle at a Natural/Organic store for like 4 bucks. I use my girlfriends makeup removing pads to clean/apply the oil. Don't tell her, though!:D
  6. SGT. Pepper

    SGT. Pepper Banned

    Nov 20, 2005
    You can use boiled linseed oil, but go easy with it because it is quite heavy and rich. Try Hoppes #9 lubrcating oil. It is designed for firearms mechanisims but it is stated you also could use it on rifle stocks to keep them from drying out. Think about it now, hunters subject their rifles to the elements quite often. I use Hoppes and had no problems. One a year is plenty, maybe twice. It is a clean, pure, clear, and light oil that penetrates and well. Make sure you get the lubricating oil and not the powder solvent. You could buy it at any gun shop or Wal-Mart, K-mart, ect. :bassist:
  7. grindliner


    Jan 29, 2006
    Lemon oil does not penetrate, it is more or less a cleaner. Boiled linseed oil is a surface finish and gets gets gummy.

    In my Erlewine books, he recommends RAW linseed oil, once every six months, applied with a q-tip, to keep it away from the frets, let stand for a couple minutes, wipe off, wipe a second time with a clean rag. The raw linseed oil will penetrate the wood.

    If the oil gets under the frets, it can weaken the wood, causing the frets to pull up, and gule wont stick to oil saturated wood to hold the frets down.

    I have always bathed my guitar fretboards with lemon oil at every string change until reading this.

    the book is:
    How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great!: The Electric Guitar Owner's Manual (Guitar Player Book) by Dan Erlewine

    $13.50 on amazon
  8. Ostinato

    Ostinato Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Toronto ON
    For rosewood I've always used tung oil. Its supposed to condition the wood more than clean it. But I would only use it on a darker board because its dark in appearance.
  9. SGT. Pepper

    SGT. Pepper Banned

    Nov 20, 2005
    Go with the Hoppe's dude. You don't need a lot of it and it works great! I have had the same bottle for 5 yrs now. One drop per fret is all you need. Rub it in with a clean cloth or paper towel, let it sit for 15 minutes, then wipe off the excess. Thats it!
  10. used motor oil works pretty good.... jk obviously..... it would be nice to get a moderators' take on this... or any other veteran.
  11. Micolao


    Sep 7, 2005
    I totally agree...;)
  12. seventhson

    seventhson Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    besides the obvious, what's the difference between raw/boiled linseed oil for conditioning wood?
  13. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Boiled Linseed oil contains drying agents and really is more of a finish than a conditioner. If used repeatedly over time, It will build up on the neck and will set very much like a Watco type finish or other oil-based finish. It will definitely dry faster than the raw oil.

    Raw linseed oil can also be used as a finish, but it isn't very practical as it dries so slowly. It is more of a wood conditioner used alone. Both boiled and raw can be mixed with other things to condition or otherwise change the properties of paint or stains.

    I would consider raw to be a better solution for conditioning wood. The issue with it is that it is a penetrating oil that takes a LONG time to dry. If used to heavily or frequently, there is at least the possibility that the oil will completely penetrate the fingerboard. If so, there is at least some chance that it would compromise the glue and thus separate the fb from the neck.

    If wiped on with a rag lightly once or twice a year, it's probably no big deal to use either. If applied more heavily or frequently, who knows. I would not use either on a maple board that is already finished with some kind of top coat.
  14. seventhson

    seventhson Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    most excellent info...thanks!
  15. The trick to using linseed oil is to understand that it is not very good as a surface finish, but it is an outstanding penetrating finish. When you apply it to raw wood, or oil-finished wood, a little of the LO will penetrate into the pores of the wood, and the rest of the LO will simply accumulate on top of the surface. The trick to doing this right is to let it sit for a minute or two after application, so it can penetrate, and then "remove it thoroughly"! Any excess left sitting on the surface of the board will take years to completely cure, and it will start to feel gummy every time it gets a little warm. This is not good, but it is not the LO's fault, it is the operator's fault. The oil that penetrates the wood enhances the grain and color, hardens and protects the wood, and does exactly what it is supposed to do. LO sitting on top of the surface collects dirt and filth, obscuring the wood, and never feels right.

    Sometimes, climactic conditions will cause some of the uncured LO to leech out of the wood some time after application. Just go back to the instructions and "remove it thoroughly"! I use paper towels or clean rags to remove the excess, then burnish the surface with fine scotchbrite or steel wool to make sure I got all of the excess and get a glassy, pro quality finish. I apply LO it when the board looks like it needs it (dull, dirty, and/or dry), or after using "lemon oil" or any of the cleaners that tend to dry out the wood. Keep all of these materials on the board and off the rest of the instrument. Same with the burnishing process, don't let your abrasive touch anything but the board and frets. Cut a cardboard mask to fit around the base of the board, so you don't "burnish" your nice glossy finish! I like to keep the residue out of the junction where the side of the fret meets the board, using my fingernail and some paper towel, rag, or scotchbrite. It takes a while, but it makes your board look like new.

    Remember, only the LO that penetrates below the surface of the wood should be left behind. And watch the hot trunks or hot, humid days, because they can cause the LO to bubble above the surface for some time after even a correct application and removal, because even the boiled linseed oil takes a while to cure. I rarely see raw LO any more, most of the formulas like Watco, Tru-Oil, or boiled LO have some polymers or other magic stuff in there to make it dry faster, among other things. If you find the stuff feels sticky and stubborn when you start removing it, you waited too long, and the stuff is already starting to cure. Get all of the excess off and you won't have a problem. Leave any of it sitting on the surface, and you will feed the myth that LO softens the board. You should question anything that comes from the source of that "Boiled linseed oil softens or damages the rosewood board" business, because it just isn't the case.

    That Erlewine book is so great! But make sure you read it carefully. "Remove it thoroughly"!
  16. FunkSlap89


    Apr 26, 2005
    Albany, NY
    what about mineral oil? :bag:

    I've never tried it, but my dad uses it on our wood countertops. Would it work? or get gummy?
  17. somervell


    Aug 13, 2005
    Brasstown, NC
    Linseed oil, tung oil and one or two other very obscure oils are “reactive” oils. Their molecular structure will absorb and oxygen molecule from the air and result in polymerization. This chemical process creates heat as a by product and so caution when disposing of rags is necessary. “Boiled” or “Polymerized” refers to a process or additives that catalyze this reaction and speed the time needed to “dry”. Once these oils have polymerized the resulting finish is resistant to water, water vapor and even chemical solvents, it looks great and can polished to a very high sheen. Tung oil is the superior of the two for use as a finish. I prefer the LO on fingerboards for reasons I am not sure I can explain, some of has to do with tradition. It has been used to preserve the woodwork in Europe’s cathedrals for centuries. In time it darkens considerable, a draw back on light woods.. CA adhesives will still hole your frets in if needed. These oils are not for use on finishes like lacquer or poly. They will not hurt them but it’s hell trying to get them off. The disadvantage of the other oils, since they do not “react” and set up, is that they indeed remain behind. Some can go “rancid” in time. Most “lemon oil” products are simply cleaners with lemon scent added to make them smell “clean”. Many of these products like Old English Orange oil are great for cleaning finished wood, like maple fingerboards. Lemon oil from the health food stores is indeed the oil form the peel of lemons. Add some drops to the LO or Tung oil if the aroma makes you happy…
    When applying the oils as was stated above be sure to remove all excess. I apply the oil until it seems like the wood is not soaking it up and then wipe off what looks ‘wet’ before it dries. Next day I polish like crazy. Once or twice a year is more than plenty.
    I have no experience or knowledge of the gun stock products but as was stated they endure much tougher situations than our guitars I would bet they will work well.
    I hope that was helpful….


  18. Now there is an avid hunter...haven't thought about Hoppe's gun oil for years.
  19. joegeezer


    Mar 9, 2005
    Northern Wisconsin
    Avatar Club#12 Eden Club Lucky# 13--USA Peavey Club#37 Carvin Club#5
    I have always used Tung Oil, but i like the Hoppe's #9 idea, I might give it a try on one of my basses. Hoppe's has a neat smell to it. Thanks