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Tips for neck finishing

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Gecko 5, May 16, 2011.

  1. I'm toying with the idea of putting together a parts bass.
    I'm really doing this on a shoe-string budget.
    I'm having a neck made by Tommy at USACG.
    Its going to be a vintage style 880 C profile.

    I want a nitro finish, and was wondering if I could save some money by finishing it myself?
    I know you can by the nitro in a spray can from Stew-Mac.

    Anyone done this with the spray can?

    Any hints/help? I'm a DIY wanna-be
  2. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    You can easily finish one yourself, either in a Nitro finish or with any number of wipe-on finishes.

    For nitro, I'd probably just use Deft lacquer (can be found at Home Depot and possibly Lowe's) unless you specifically want the "vintage tinted" stuff... at that point, I'd go with either the Stew-Mac stuff, or ReRanch Guitar Refinishing
  3. gbarcus

    gbarcus Commercial User

    Jul 20, 2008
    Minneapolis & St.Paul, MN
    Owner of Barcus Basses barcusbasses.com
    I use them, as I can get lots of thin coats (12-15) without having to clean my sprayers.
    Hard part is getting the glasslike finnish. Finishing compounds and buffing pads can get expensive.
    You could just do the many coats, wet sand down to 2000 grit, then do a light overspray to give a matte/textured finnish.
    If done right, it gives a unique look.
    Can you tell I've been experimenting? :)
  4. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    I don't know what nitro finish is but boiled linseed oil will give raw wood a nice satin finish without using crazy toxic chemicals & brings out the color of the wood grain nicely.
  5. John Wentzien

    John Wentzien

    Jun 25, 2007
    Elberta, AL
    Artist:TC Electronic RH450 bass system (original test-pilot)
    I an a fan of tung oil..(rubbed-in) it will get glossy enough after playing...
  6. Ok.... I'm not educated in this stuff.
    I'm just looking to seal, or protect the wood.

    What do I NEED to do to the neck?
  7. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    Gecko 5,

    The easiest finishes to apply are wipe on finishes. You can get wipe on poly at home depot, and get a decent dating finish, but for ease of use, I'd recommend Tru-Oil by Birchwood-Casey. It's a wipe on oil varnish , it's super easy to apply, and enough to finish a neck or a body (or both?) can be had at Wal-Mart for less than $10.

    You just sand your work piece to 400 grit or so, wipe on the Tru-Oil with a lint free paper towel like the blue ones you get at auto parts stores, then immediately wipe back off, let dry for 1 hour, and then repeat until desired glossiness appears. Varnishes lime Tru-Oil are literally the easiest finishes I have ever worked with, they are reasonably durable (Tru-Oil is marketed primarily as a gunstock finish, and is found in the gun cleaning/sporting goods section at Wal-Mart), and are dirt cheap. Also, they look damn good if you take a little time with them.
  8. gbarcus

    gbarcus Commercial User

    Jul 20, 2008
    Minneapolis & St.Paul, MN
    Owner of Barcus Basses barcusbasses.com
    Tru-oil +1

  9. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    I used reranch tinted lacquer on two prjects, and it worked great!




  10. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    always just use nitro shot with a spray gun:



    black nitro matching headstock:


    here's a body that i made before it was wet sanded and buffed:

  11. Ok, I now have 2 projects that will require neck finishing.
    On the first one, I am going to be spraying a Warmoth Jazz neck.
    I decided to go with the Stew-Mac nitro in a spray can.
    Do I have to wet sand between coats?
    I'm guessing I need to mask off the fretboard. Just the face of the fretboard?

    Any tips would be greatly appreciated
  12. Any drawbacks? Thats beautiful. How does it feel?
  13. Bump?
  14. What is the curing time for the Tru Oil?
  15. Question on another project, same subject.
    I got a neck from USACG. I'm using nitrocellulose in a spray can from Stew-Mac. I have 11 thin coats on the back of the neck.
    Looks awesome. Smooth as glass. On the front of the headstock it look kinda "rippled", maybe wavey?
    What to do about that?
  16. you should sand it with 600-800 grit. At one point you will see the low spots or valleys of the ripple still shiny, with the surrounding peaks dull. Keep going until it is almost all dull you don't have to go too crazy, then you can start spraying again. The trick is to get the ripples level, and nitro is forgiving since it will melt the surrounding up to a certain point. Then you can go to wetsanding and buffing process.
  17. I only dry sand between coats if they are getting too orange peely/rough. If it's smooth keep going, like I said before, if you are using nitro lacquer, it melts the previous layer some.
  18. I decided to go with the Nitro in a spray can from Stew-Mac.
    Super easy to use.

    I masked off the fingerboard. There is some residue from the tape, and from the buffing compound.
    Whats the best way to get this stuff off the fingerboard?
    Lemon oil and steel wool? Fine sand paper?
    Some of the "shmootz" goes right up to the frets.
  19. I just had the same experience as you with the tape - I ran outta the good blue tape and just used masking tape.

    Somewhat of a mistake, as it left the adhesive on the fretboard too.

    It's easy to get off though - and I used a liquid carnauba wax from Maguier's - you can use Mothers California Gold too - but a wax will remove all the gunk as well as make the fingerboard nice and smooth.

    WD40 is a good goo remover - but don't spray it on the board, just put it on a piece of rag and scrub the FB that way.

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