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Tru-Oil tips

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by billiam5billion, Apr 18, 2011.

  1. Well, I'm about halfway through sealing my new Warmoth '72 P bass body with Tru-Oil, and since I couldn't find very many online resources for procedures that weren't for gunstocks or for 6-string guitars, I thought I'd start a thread for everyone who is thinking of using Tru-Oil to seal their natural grain instead of finishing.

    I'm in no way a pro, this is actually my first job with the stuff, but if everyone who has used it could contribute to the thread, we might end up with a handy-dandy user's guide for BASSISTS only.

    Here's my body, hanging out on my front porch, drying its 5th coat-

    And here are a few basic tips for using Tru-Oil-

    1. DO IT OUTSIDE!! I can't stress this enough. This stuff stinks something fierce and lingers like a mother-in-law. Your wife/parents/pets will not appreciate your craft as much as you do.

    2. Invest in a box of latex gloves. Although it's not particularily harmful to your skin, it's sticky and hardens under water, so it can be annoying.

    3. I found the best applicator was my old shoe-polish rag that I haven't used since I was in the army. I started with cotton swabs and moved to paper towels but found it wasteful. I also used an ordinary absorbent wash cloth, but when I went to do another coat the next day it had dried and hardened and the application got streaky and inconsistent.

    4. I was using Gojo to clean my hands afterward, but I ran out and didn't feel like a trip to the hardware store, so I tried ordinary dish detergent and it worked like a charm!

    5. 00 Steel wool is suggested to use for buffing between coats, but I found that the 220-240 grit sandpaper was a cheaper and easier to use alternative.

    That's all I've got for now, let's get some more tips if you have them!
  2. Here's my tip: apply with bare fingertips.
  3. duckbutter


    Mar 30, 2005
    how many coats total are you going to do?
  4. RaginRog

    RaginRog Last guy you want to see is Employee Relations guy

    Nov 29, 2009
    Formerly Staten Island
    Here are a couple of threads you should read...I got some good information from them because I just Tru-Oiled my Stingray neck, and left about 3 coats on there. From what I've read, most guys use 8-12 coats for bodies. The initial couple of coats should be done with fingers to ensure good coverage, and filing of the grain. Do some light sanding with fine steel wool, or scotch brite pads between every couple of coats...while waiting at least 2 hours between coats. Once you have all your coats, you'll want to let it cure for a week or two.

    Here's some good reading, the title of the one is misleading...it refers to needing patience and waiting so long between coats and the final product:

    Minwax Spray Nitro Color? - Telecaster Guitar Forum

    The trouble with Tru-Oil ...
  5. RaginRog

    RaginRog Last guy you want to see is Employee Relations guy

    Nov 29, 2009
    Formerly Staten Island
    You don't necessarily have to do it outside...especially since there are a lot of particles & bugs that can get on your wet finish.

    Between coats...after sanding, it's important to use a tack cloth or else the tiny steel wool fibers get caught in the Tru-Oil.

    Goo Gone is a great product to use to get it off your hands.

    220-240 grit is way too rough....you'll never build up enough coats if you use something that coarse...1000-1200 is what you should use for final sanding....you can even wet sand it...then use a buffer and some 3M Fineese it II (available at most auto parts stores for about $18 a bottle), to wax/buff out for a great shine. Here is the neck on my Stingray after only 3 coats....you'll want more for your body though.

  6. jazzbo58

    jazzbo58 Bassist for My Man Godbey Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2001
    New Orleans, LA USA
    I applied the oil with my gloved fingers and wiped away excess oil with Bounty paper towels. I lightly sanded every 3 coats and used 15 coats for the final finish. Here are my results and I'm quite happy!


  7. JGR

    JGR The "G" is for Gustav Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 29, 2006
    President, CEO, CFO, CIO, Chief Engineer, Technician, Janitor - Reiner Amplification
    I've done several basses in Tru-oil. Great stuff. Never had a problem with smell, and I like to apply with bare hands as well. I buff with 0000 steel wool in between coats after each coat has dried. I can't see applying more than 3-4 coats total. I would highly recommend finishing with a couple of coats of their gunstock wax after the Tru-oil. It adds a nice sheen to the finish. The first bass below has oil+wax, the rest just had oil.




  8. Kael


    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    Those blue automotive paper towels work great for applying tru-oil. I used them to put tru-oil on the neck on my fretless J. I went with many THIN coats on my neck. Put some on, then immediately lightly wipe with a clean towel. I wound up putting 20 coats on there, but they were thin enough that it didn't come off as having a MIJ style armor finish.

    I didn't need to do any buffing/sanding till the next to last finish. By wiping on an extremely thin coat and then immediately wiping off any excess, I didn't need to. Then again, this is a neck. Perhaps a body would require more attention.
  9. Kael


    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City

    Guiseppe likes this.
  10. 49sfine


    Apr 20, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    I wrote the WISHBASS REFINISHING GUIDE (See thread) which is primarily focused on Tru-Oil as the finish material. I used to think that 5 or 6 coats were enough but I recently completed a finish job on a custom order Wishbass (it was ordered without any finish) that received over 13 coats of Tru-Oil and there is a tangible difference in feel, look and vibe. Those extra coats just gave the finish depth and it is really nice. I won't skimp again ... Here's what she looks like: Wishbass #951, a Fantasy model, in zebrawood, short scale, fretless, with wenge fingerboard. I made the knob, the nut and the bridge and veneered the cover plate - all Tru-Oiled.
    These photos were taken outside at sunset, using a very basic camera, NO flash. I shoot on a black cloth spread out over a large piece of cardboard and this is the effect you get - I haven't even Photoshopped them yet ...
  11. rmars

    rmars Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2004
    Bettendorf, Ia
    I'm doing a neck right now and have been using coffee filters to apply. You can also you a coffee filter to wipe it off if you get too thick of a coat. I think I got this tip over at Reranch.com, anyway it works great. You can keep the coat super thin and not have to stop to sand as often when building coats.

    I don't use steel wool anymore because on the last neck I did the steel wool constantly embedded itself in the finish. I really like the 3M polishing papers that Stewmac sell and it works great on polishing bone nuts as well.
  12. speyer

    speyer Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2006
    Bowen Island, CANADA
    I refinished my Rifle stock with Truoil and had fantastic results. 8 coats applied with a soft rag, with extra fine 3m pads between coats... topped off with their gunstock wax. It's a mainstay in my workshop now for all of my wood working projects that require a durable water resistant finish. I've used steel wool too... it works well, but you have to blow off all the 'bits' steel wool that are left on the workpiece before applying the next coat.

    Now I just need to start building a 5 string J bass from scratch ;)
  13. End of the day, finished my first ever Tru-Oil finish, here's the results-
    The blueish dot near the bottom is some kind of glare.




    Had it hanging under my carport all day with a wire coat hanger threaded through one of the neck screw holes. It's a good idea to switch the hole you hang it on back and forth with each layer, so that the heel gets evenly finished. I did a coat evey two hours and lightly sanded every other coat. I did all the soldering for the electronics during the first drying cycle, so now it's just a matter of keeping my impatient hands off it until it's properly cured.
  14. RaginRog

    RaginRog Last guy you want to see is Employee Relations guy

    Nov 29, 2009
    Formerly Staten Island
    That is one helluva nice looking top!!
  15. rmars

    rmars Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2004
    Bettendorf, Ia
    Wow, that's a pretty impressive finish. I was going to do a Red Mahogany Nitro but I may just do a stain and Tru-Oil over it.
  16. davelowell2

    davelowell2 Uhh... FaFaFooey is BaBaBooey... Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2006
    NYC via StL
    Billiam5billion, did you do anything to the body before the tru oil? Or did you just take it out of the box and start oiling?
  17. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    I used Tru-Oil to refinish a terribly beat-up T-40 neck. After sanding out all the dings and nick, I got it nicely smooth and started with the Tru-Oil, using a very soft cloth. Between coats I sealed the cloth in a plastic bag and squeezed out all the air and it was usable day after day. In between every other coat a quick buff with 0000 steel wool. I had no trouble with it embedding in the finish. After 10 coats or so, and a final steel wooling, I used 2 coats of their gunstock wax for an amazing matte finished neck. As good as any factory job. I love the stuff!
  18. tripp2k


    Oct 31, 2010
  19. Rugaar


    Apr 11, 2007
    Great thread. Love the pics. I'm definitely going to have to do this at some point. I love oil finishes.
  20. keyboardguy

    keyboardguy Supporting Member

    May 11, 2005
    I used this method for Minwax tung oil I 'think' both products are similar:

    Tung oil Procedure

    This is my normal routine of using Minwax Tung Oil.

    I’ve used this over half a dozen times and the results are perfect every time.

    After a final sanding down your Bass with 400 grit sandpaper, do the following:

    Lightly sand with 0000 steel wool, then a coat of Minwax tung oil applied with a 2" square piece of paper towel.

    Let it sit for FIVE minutes only! This is important. If you wait any longer, the tung oil turns into a consistency of honey, and is difficult to remove.

    After 5 minutes, wipe off with some T-shirt rags, wiping off evenly.

    Wait 5-6 hours and then apply another coat without sanding.

    Repeat the whole thing the next day, remembering to lightly sand with the steel wool. This way you’re putting on 2 coats per day.

    I recommend at least 4 coats for the neck, preferably 6-7, and 10-12 for the body.

    Follow these instructions and you will get a wonderful looking Bass Guitar.