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Tung Oil Finish

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by fat-bottom, Mar 26, 2005.

  1. Hi Folks,

    I'm finishing a Warmoth ash body with Behlen "Master" Tung Oil which I purchased from StewMac. My question concerns quantity. How many coats should I apply as a general rule? I'm thinking maybe 4 or 5. Also what wax and how many coats do you recommend?

    Many Thanks
  2. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    If this is Behlen's pure Tung oil (not an oil/varnish blend) you need at least five coats. I'd go with 8 or 9. But keep them thin. Pure Tung is not the hardest curing finish in the world, so you don't want to build up a real thick film.

    Wax is not a finish. It protects the finish. Only one coat is needed, but you can reapply any time you want to get the bass nice and shiny. The solvents in the fresh wax melt the old wax.
  3. Just gotta warn about some of these types of finishes. They aren't as hard as the TruOil types just like Bob said AND they can get a little sticky in certain conditions like high heat combined with high humidity. It's not that you'll take your bass out and it will stick to the case, it's more that it will have a noticeable tackiness to it. It's a pain to have to wipe it down all the time. So if your instrument might experience this type of environment regularly, you might try one of the harder, film forming oil finishes.

    Oh, and Bob...you can have Paul flip that avatar around for you. Somehow it's gotten reversed! ;)
  4. Thanks fellas,

    I've got one coat of the Behlen on. Can I switch to a TruOil or is it too late?
  5. andvari7


    Aug 28, 2004
    Well, the Behlen is in there for the duration, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Just let it sit for a couple of days, and when you're ready to begin again, use TruOil.
  6. Dang, you're right about that. In fact that's what I've been doing lately - using Watco Teak Oil as a first soaker and then coming back with TruOil to seal it all up and focus the light.
  7. Fasoldt Basses

    Fasoldt Basses

    Mar 22, 2005
    Stevens Point, WI
    Karl Thompson, Builder (Formerly Fat Karl)
    I am a big fan of polymerized tung oil finishes. They are more durable than 100% tung oil and do not require wax. if it is applied correctly it can be absolutely amazing to look at too.
  8. Bass Kahuna

    Bass Kahuna

    Dec 3, 2002
    West Lafayette, Indiana
    Luthier, Custom Builder
    Here is a link to the oil finishing process I use. It works Great!

    The only change / addition I use is that after following this process, I put on two coats of "Howards Feed-N-Wax". I also use Watco Danish Oil and the Watco Satin Finishing wax as referenced in the article.


    By using this process, my oil finishes come out baby-butt smooth beautiful, with just the right amount of "glow" and the end grain is perfectly sealed.

  9. Thanks again folks,

    I've sanded my ash body with 400 grit. Friday will mark the 7th day since I rubbed a coat of the Behlen tung oil.

    I purchased a bottle of Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil at Walmart.

    I plan to apply a coat of Tru-Oil with a paper towel, then wipe with a cotton rag. If I understand the directions, I will repeat until the finish is what I desire.

    Then I should appy a wax? I'm sorry, I lost the process.

    Thanks Again,