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Linseed oil finish.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Davidmh, Jul 31, 2012.

  1. Davidmh


    Jul 12, 2012
    Wales, UK

    My take on linseed oil as a wood finish - it's particularly good on a neck and gives a nice tactile finish. You have the choice of satin or high gloss depending on how many coats you apply.

    I use boiled linseed oil - it's inexpensive, readily available and quality should not vary too much, no matter where you buy it.
    I've been using this tin of oil for about two years now. I suppose it'll go off eventually - if I live that long....

    Linseed oil takes a long time to cure, unlike Tru-oil or poly varnish. It is applied in very thin coats - actually I find the best way to apply it is to rub it in and wipe it off so that only a thin residue remains. The residue cures by oxidising in the presence of air. This takes about 24 hours. Then give it a buff and repeat the process.
    Important - you must make sure the oil is dry before you recoat. Coating over oil that isn't dry will stop the air getting to the previous coat - it can stay tacky for months if you don't allow each coat to cure completely.

    This is my current project neck after about 15 coats.
    This is satin, not gloss finish at the moment - still super smooth though.

    Linseed oil high gloss finish on a guitar neck.

    I'm going for a high gloss finish on my project bass neck, so it will probably have another 15 coats or so.
    One advantage of using linseed oil is that it is non-messy.
    Spill some on your fretboard?
    Wipe it off - no problem. It also allows for a nice smooth finish over the fretboard/neck joint. If you're fixing up a project neck be sure to address any sharp tangs before starting to oil.

    The linseed oil finish is hard and durable. I use linseed oil to treat silk fly fishing lines, and they get much more abuse than the finish on your average bass or guitar.
  2. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    I use raw linseed oil to condition my rosewood fingerboard... good results... keeps it feeling harsh and dry. The boiled stuff is similar, and goes off much quicker AFAIK.

    It smells lovely and works with all fairly closed grained woods. Probably with decent filler it'll work anywhere :smug:.

    Nice neck. I love satin, and a clean gloss is ok - but not when the hands get sticky. Satin me up johnny! :eek:
  3. Davidmh


    Jul 12, 2012
    Wales, UK
    The smell - I forgot the smell....................mmmmmmmm.
    Thanks for reminding.
  4. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    The only problem is the spontaneous combustion of rags used to polish with it... but if care is taken it's worth it. Much nicer to work with than lacquer (Doesn't get you high why you're trying to work :spit:).
  5. Joel Schirripa

    Joel Schirripa

    Dec 21, 2013
    I just want to refinish the headstock on my current project. I've been using raw (pretty sure it's raw) linseed oil on my rosewood fretboard every time I re-string and it works great. was wondering if I'd be able to use the same stuff to finish the headstock? thanks
  6. I use tung and linseed oil on almost all woodworking that I do.With linseed oil you may need to"refresh"the finish after a few years by rubbing another coat or two on(or as much as will soak in)but it's very easy to use and I prefer the look of an oil finish to anything else.
  7. Polfuste


    Sep 10, 2010
    South France
    I used linseed on my fretboard before, but i've had to stop it. Don't know if it was my oil quality, but i found it smell like a old death fish after months, and the smell sticks to fingers..i replaced it with lemon oil which is good too with a nice smell.
  8. @Polfuste I used lemon oil before switching to boiled linseed oil. The problem with lemon oil is that it dries up almost right away, it looks really nice for a day or two but doesn't last and I may be wrong but it seemed like it was doing more damage to the fretboard than good. Yes BLO smells, and can end up on your fingers and smell, but at least you know that it hasn't dried up.
  9. Polfuste


    Sep 10, 2010
    South France
    Well i didn't see damage on fretboards yet. Several years now. I'll see on the long run.

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