Tips for finishing an unfinished body w/ Tung Oil Varnish.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jacob M, Nov 20, 2004.

  1. Jacob M

    Jacob M

    Aug 28, 2004
    New York
    I recently got an unfinished Warmoth J-bass body made of Black Korina. Because of the awesome way the wood looks, I've decided to leave it natural, and just finish it in Tung Oil. But, I've never finished anything before...

    So, I'm looking for some pointers. From what I've heard, it's ridiculously easy, just put it on a cloth and spread it around, making sure it's evenly distributed, and repeat daily for like 4 days. But, there's probabally a whole wealth of info here that could help me out, so please, any pointers you have, share them with me!

    Thanks alot,
  2. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
  3. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Seriously, go to the sporting goods store and get a bottle of Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil gunstock finish. It's polymerized Linseed Oil... their description... and it goes on beautifully, just rub on a coat, let it dry, steel wool or light sandpaper, another coat, repeat until you're happy with the look. It's what they use on gunstocks, and it dries to a tough, waterproof finish. I've never seen ANYTING bring out the natural beauty of wood like that stuff. Best of all, if you do scratch it, a little more tru-oil on your finger rubbed into the scratch will all but eliminate it! I've built five instruments with it, and I love the look.
  4. rubo


    Aug 25, 2003
    Tung oil is a long process, I've learned with every coat it takes longer to dry, so first coat is 24 hours, second is 48 hours ... and so on. So it will take about 4 weeks for the full process. You can go with clear polyurethane satin finish as well - much better protection and faster drying process.

  5. rockindoc

    rockindoc Daily Lama

    Jan 26, 2002
    Bonham, Tx
    I usually rub it in barehanded, and the drying time is faster IME. I guess this puts a thinner coat each time 'cause I've often done 2 coats a day, morning & evening. I spray WD-40 on my hands after applying the Tung oil, then it washes off with soap & water.

    I gotta try that Tru Oil. Does anybody know if it can be applied OVER tung oil?
  6. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii

    I agree with this. I've used tung oil and I've used tru-oil, and tru-oil is better and easier to apply. It dries much faster too. And it looks great. Add a little paste wax when you are done for a little shine and it is even better.
  7. If you want to apply it over raw tung oil, I would wipe down the body thoroughly and completely with naptha before doing so. TruOil is designed to penetrate the wood and then harden. If the pores are filled with old Tung oil then there's no place for the TO to go.

    Raw tung oil is an insidious material. Like has been said, it takes forever to cure. That is why the TO is the way to go. Look in the "Luthiers" forum for more posts on how to apply and what to do with this great finish. There's lots to learn down there.