Oil finishing easier than painting?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by the ombudsman, May 4, 2005.

  1. Please help a total wood finishing ignoramus...

    It seems like stripping the finish off of a bass body and then refinishing it is a lot of work. Filler, sanding, primer, clear coating, etc.

    How do you apply an oil finish? Is it the same procedure for all kinds of wood? Is it really easier than painting?

    What about a natural gloss finish?

    Thanks for any info!
  2. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    Because I am an ignoramous as well, the only finishes I have attempted thus far have been oils (danish, tru-oil, and tung). It's definitely a great way to start! I actually really like the smell of danish oil now (kinda like I like the smell of gasoline). Applying the finish is super fun cuz you get to see the grain pop out. It's one of the more gratifying step in the build process.
    You can put a wax over the oil to get the finish a little harder and shiny-er as well. I'd suggest trying the Danish or Tru-oil, if your piece is well sanded. If the piece already had a hard finish on it, the oil might not turn out so good/uneven if the wood is still sealed at all.
  3. ArtisFallen


    Jul 21, 2004
    I feel like a representative for Minwax... I'm going to start charging them...

    Oils great depending on the type of wood, but if you want a nice clear finish, stain and Polyurithane are my favorites. it's like putting on oil at first, but then applying the polyurithane is like putting on a fresh coat of paint. if you put enough coats on, it's almost like a laquered finish, only it allowes the wood to resonate more, and is slightly more maleable than laquer so dings dont look like crap, they add charachter.

    it's nice to play on too when it's all finished.
  4. PasdaBeer


    Nov 2, 2002
    Santa Rosa California
    SandStorm Designs
    if you know how to paint well, its easyer IMO

    any oil takes a LOT of hand rubbing, time, and all that fun stuff.

    paint its faster, but personaly, i love oil.
  5. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I'm going to start this up again, because I just came to a point where I need help.

    I got a Fender J Plus and re-did the finish on the back of the neck. Used Gunstock oil and it looks great, feels great. It was easy enough to do for a relative novice in this field.

    So, just as I get almost done with my neck, I decide to mess with the body. It's an okay color... for a 1994 Honda Civic. But I bought this bass as a project and dag nabbit, I want to make a mess of it.

    I stripped the body of its parts and fine sanded the clearcoat with little difference from before. I think I want to strip it bare and oil finish it, though.

    My question is can you take these down to bare wood, fill and stain them (and correct my order on that if I'm wrong), then apply an oil finish to the point of shininess?

    If not, I guess I need to look into how to re-paint, but before I go further, I need to find an answer.
  6. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    It's perfectly possible, but you have to be ready to paint anyway. The reason is that if you're a manufacturer looking to build cheap solid colour bodies you don't worry about what the grain looks like. You can (with a bit of effort) strip to bare wood and oil your way up, but you've got to be prepared to repaint in case the wood looks like complete a$$.

  7. Basschair

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

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    Here's where I provide no help whatsoever...

    I'm using tru oil on the neck and danish oil followed by a wipe-on poly for the body...it's the Watco stuff that's supposed to be just fine with going on after their danish oil, so hopefully it'll work. I'd probably worry too much with painting, as miniscule bits of dust would stand out like crazy. I just don't have the patience or the proper setup for it. If you had both, you could probably do a great job.

  8. Here's the thing - film forming oils like TruOil, polymerized tung oil, Danish oil, Tried and True Oil, or Formby's Tung Oil Finish should all go on pretty much last in the course of any series of staining, pore filling or any other treatment designed to modify the wood under the oil. What makes the oil work is the fact that it can penetrate the surface, get down into the wood and then harden. We aren't talking about bowling alley hardness - just the maximum that the oil can give. Penetration also is what allows the oil to let the figure pop. It fills the voids between the fibers with a near optically clear solid that refracts light down into the fibers and that's where it bounces around and looks good. So the order should be finish sanding, then pore sealing if it's the type of wood that needs it. Then stain or dye if it's to be colored, then the oil to lock it all in. You can even do bursts under the oil for a very natural look. The oil will fill any leftover imperfections and begin building to the point that it will be thick enough to level by wetsanding. I usually will do this after about 4 coats or so (I lose count!). This is to level the film before going on. Then start building some more. I usually will wetsand one more time and build again before getting into the realm of completion. This is a looonnggg process. It can take several weeks to complete an oil finish. The Jazzwick took that long but the results were worth it.

  9. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I didn't even know you could wetsand the oil finish! That is amazing. I guess I really don't know diddly squat about finishing.
  10. What is the preferred wet-sanding method? I have heard about soaking the sandpaper in water and then hand sanding a piece. Is that the method most people use?
  11. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    That's how I do it. I used really fine paper, though they seem to recomend a coarser grit on here. I had a ton of 1200 at my house here, so I used it. Not on the oil, but on a body, and it's super nice.