Pure Tung oil finish: how many coats and any tips for glossiest finish?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by boristhespider7, Apr 25, 2018.


  1. boristhespider7

    boristhespider7

    Jan 27, 2008
    UK
    I've decided to finish an alder jazz body in 100% pure tung oil. I'm a bit of a nube to this and chose this method for ease and simplicity. How many coats should i expect to put on? Also any tips for the shiniest/glossiest outcome i can get?

    Should i polish with a wax after for more shine or will the oil be enough?
     
  2. Low Commotion

    Low Commotion Supporting Member

    I'm curious too. I just want to do the back of the neck.

    Subbed.
     
  3. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Alder is a softer hardwood. It would really benefit from having a poly finish.

    If you insist on oiling, the traditional protocol was:

    Once a day for a week.
    Once a week for a month.
    Once a month for a year.

    With oil, it is a matter of what makes you happy. Minimum of three coats. Three and three with wet sanding in between is better.

    Here is a detailed description of the technique by jazzdogg.

    Wax if you like the feel of wax under your thumb. Personally, I think it makes it drag.
     
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  4. boristhespider7

    boristhespider7

    Jan 27, 2008
    UK
    I'm not too worried about dings etc as with oil its so much easier to repair. Chips on solid paint or varnish fillings bug me much more and brings out the OCD in me :)
     
  5. ONYX

    ONYX

    Apr 14, 2000
    Michigan
    This.

    Ten years ago, I built a parts guitar (swamp ash body), and finished it with Tung Oil. Using the exact method you listed, it took 2 1/2 years before I was satisfied with the finish--but it was worth it.

    As far as protecting the finish, once a year or so I wipe it down with Butcher's Wax.
     
  6. boristhespider7

    boristhespider7

    Jan 27, 2008
    UK
    Is that 2 1/2 yrs for it to cure and settle or 2 1/2 yrs of applying the oil once a month? :eek:
     
  7. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Is pure tung oil truly desirable? I have read otherwise. OTOH, I have used gunstock oil which is a mish-mash of several different products and recommended for its extended properties including durability.

    Riis
     
  8. ONYX

    ONYX

    Apr 14, 2000
    Michigan
    That was following the "1x day/ week--1x week/month--1x month/year" method. From first to last coat took 2 1/2 years. But as I indicated, my guitar body was swamp ash, which is very porous and absorbent--it soaked up the first several coats of oil like a sponge, so it took a few applications before it started to resemble a "finish". Usually with a porous wood like that, the usual procedure is to use sanding sealer first, but I wanted the wood grain to look as natural as possible.

    If you're using alder wood, it shouldn't take as long as it did me.
     
  9. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    What is your method of application of the gun stock oil on your instruments? I'm preparing to use Birchwood-Casey oil on an unlined fretless rosewood fingerboard, so any tips would be appreciated.
     
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  10. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Use your fingertips to work it into the surface...don't know exactly why this works better but the process has given me better results than a rag (lint) or applicator pads. A little goes a long way so don't "marinate" the surface. Several thin well-worked coats for the win. A gentle rub-out after each cured coat with a mildly abrasive used ScotchBrite pad evens things out and promotes subsequent coats / applications.

    That being said, I'm not sure I'd want to coat a fretless rosewood board...back of neck / body, sure. Sounds like an interesting project but please get a second opinion before proceeding. Tru-oil is not going to hold up for long under the abrasive force of a bass string. Refer: any number of threads addressing oiling rosewood fingerboards.

    My favorite finishing wax is BriWax.

    Riis
     
  11. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    I was under the impression that an oil finish by nature wasn't glossy.
    I have an oil finish bass and it isn't glossy.It's satin.
     
  12. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    Thanks for the tips. That's in line with what I've read. But sorry for the confusion, I'm using Birchwood-Casey gun stock oil for the fingerboard, not Tru-oil. Alembic uses the gun stock oil to finish their fretless fingerboards also, so it must work well.
     
  13. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I thought it was all the same stuff. I can't speak with any authority on Alembic's practices. Do they do fretless rosewood boards?

    Riis
     
  14. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    Good question, I'm not sure. But if you look at page 108 in this link, you'll see Rick Turner recommending the finish: Bass Player Presents the Fretless Bass
     
  15. Birchwood-Casey makes TruOil. I'd guess they make other oil finishes as well but I don't know for sure.

    @gebass6 , Tru-oil, at least, can be polished to a somewhat to decently glossy finish. Takes a bit of time to put on enough to make things smooth and be worth polishing but it is doable.
     
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  16. MrLenny1

    MrLenny1

    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    I also have used Tru-oil for the back of a neck.
    Came out pretty good for a noob.
    4 + years.
     
  17. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Jun 16, 2021

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