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Unfinished Woods question for you men.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by santucci218, Apr 26, 2010.

  1. santucci218


    Jan 26, 2007
    Ay guys, I was going to buy a neck from warmoth in a little whole. My dream guitar is a custom SG, so heres my chance to do it for much cheaper than a real one. Anyways, I see a lot of different woods on that site. To finish them is roughly 100 dollars for the necks. Is it necessary for all woods to be finished? They offer a Satin finish, and a gloss finish. I never liked gloss, but i think i would like a bare neck even more. So, my question...

    What neck woods MUST have a finish on them to survive for a long time? The main woods im seeing on here are Maple, Indian Rosewood, and Mahogany.

    Thank you!
  2. bassy7


    Jan 29, 2010
    "What neck woods MUST have a finish on them to survive for a long time? The main woods im seeing on here are Maple, Indian Rosewood, and Mahogany"

    All of them need a finish to keep them from getting all stained, dirty and just plain ugly really fast. Dirt and oils from your hands would build up pretty quickly on a completely unfished neck- and may even make it feel a little sticky or grabby. Finish will also help with neck stability, because it acts as a barrier to the ever changing humidity- finish will slow down absorbtion and loss of water in the wood.

    Some woods like ebony and various species of rosewood are quite oily and have their own protection- but it is still common practice to use at least some sort of oil finish on them periodically, even if they are only used as a fretboard.

    If you think you would like a BARE neck, then it sounds like you will really like the feel of an oil finish. Oil finishes are relatively easy to apply and don't require special spray equipment, or excessive sanding and buffing to get good results. I suggest you do a little research into oil finishes.
  3. santucci218


    Jan 26, 2007
    Well...since i have you here, haha.

    Is an oil finish going to be cheaper than the 100 some odd dollars i would be paying for a gloss or satin finish? How hard is this to do exactly? I dont want to ruin anything!
  4. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    It will be cheaper than a hundred and not terribly difficult, just more time consuming than having it show up finished. ..
  5. bassy7


    Jan 29, 2010
    As Beej said, its not terribly difficult- and it will definitely cost WAY LESS than $100... The finish itself might cost you $10-$30 depending on the type and quantity you buy.
  6. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    Yeah, figure on about $30 with the paper towels or rags you'll also need, sand paper and a quart or so of paint thinner for clean up. Also figure on about 2 weeks start to finish which will give you enough time to apply multiple thin coats, enough time to harden and rubbing out after. Minwax tung oil finish is pretty good. Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish is better but more expensive. They're oil/varnish blends which will give better protection that tung oil alone.

    It's not hard to do with the right product and if you can follow directions. You can get a very nice finish if you do it right.
  7. tink9975


    Aug 10, 2006
    MoCo, MD
    From the Warmoth site:

    To Finish or Not to Finish?
    All our necks are dipped in an oil based penetrating sealer which is compatible with virtually all secondary finishes. This provides enhanced stability; however, it is not adequate protection for playing. We strongly recommend you apply a hard finish to all Maple, Mahogany, and Koa necks. Oils do not validate our warranty requirements. We understand the attraction of raw or lightly oiled necks. They feel fast and are not sticky. Unfortunately, they are much more susceptible to moisture related warping and twisting. Our experience is that hard finished necks seldom warp. Less than 1 out of 200 (0.5%) are returned for warpage. Raw or oiled necks don't fare as well. About 10% are rendered useless from the torture. The more acidic your perspiration, the higher the odds are against you.
    If you must play a raw neck, that's cool; it's ok. A neck is just a tool. Just be aware of the risk. If yours does the pretzel act, we don't want to hear about it.
    For a valid warranty, a hard finish must be sufficiently thick to completely cover the wood. That means no wood is exposed and you are actually playing on the finish, not the wood. Now, it does not matter to us who applies the finish. Of course we would like to do the finish for you, but if you choose to do it yourself or have it done elsewhere the warranty is still valid.
  8. tink9975


    Aug 10, 2006
    MoCo, MD
    I also remember reading somewhere that Tru-oil counts as a thick finish according to the Warmoth warranty, since it does build up into a good protective layer.
  9. Cy_Miles


    Feb 3, 2005
    I can buy a lot of oil for $100.

    And fwiw, I am about to try out
    1 part, boiled linseed oil
    1 part, 100% pure tung oil
    1 part polyurathane.

    Plenty of people report good things with Tru-oil, .

    If I was busy making a lot of money, and spare time is rare, I wold pay for them to finish it. But ususally for me, time is more available then money so I would much rather do it myself, even if I do goof it up the first time and have to re-finish it.
  10. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    Your home brew is the same as the one I've used before. It will give you a nice finish. Recently I've stopped using polyurethane and use alkyd varnish instead. Little bit nicer look to it. I find polyurethane to be a bit plasticy looking and with a slight greyish tint to it as opposed to the more amber tint from alkyd. It polishes out better too. Non poly, alkyd varnish is getting harder to find but it's still available from McCloskey's, Old Masters, Pratt and Lambert and Benjamin Moore. I use the Benjamin Moore because it's easiest for me to find where I live.

    Just remember to use thin coats and to wipe off all the residue on top before it hardens. I sand between coats with 400 wet or dry paper used dry. Just light scuff sanding to get the little dust nibs off.

    Each brand of varnish has different dry time so you should do a test on scrap wood first. You want to make sure each coat is dry before scuff sanding and putting on the next or you'll have a non drying mess. Like a friend of mine who brought over a pine table in October that he'd tried to finish himself. He glanced at the directions on the can of Minwax Tung Oil Finish, slapped on a thick coat. Gave it half an hour to dry, didn't sand and put on a couple more coats. It still hasn't dried and has been sitting in my basement at 68F the whole time. When it's warm enough to work outside I'll take it out on the back deck and strip off the mess and start again.
  11. Cy_Miles


    Feb 3, 2005
    ...and is there a reason you didn't ask any of the women?
  12. Maple, Mahogany, Koa and Afra are the only woods that need a finish, IIRC. I'm probably missing one though.

    Anything else can be played raw.
  13. Cy_Miles


    Feb 3, 2005
    That's one hell of a blanket statement.

    How about this for a blanket stament.

    Most all woods need to be finished, or at least will last much longer if finished.

    I would think the list of woods that don't need finish would much shorter then the list of woods that should be finished.
  14. What are you talking about?:confused:

    Go down the list of woods that Warmoth offers for necks, and only a handful of them need finishes as opposed to everything else being able to be played raw.
    It's much easier to list the woods that do need finishes as opposed to the woods that do not.


    Korina and Walnut were the two I was missing.

    Maple, Koa, Mahogany, Walnut, Korina and Afra need finishes.

    Bocote, Rosewood, Bubinga, Canary, Cocobolo, Ebony, Goncalo Alves, Kingwood, Padouk, Pau Ferro, Purpleheart, Bloodwood, Wenge and Ziricote do not need finishes.
  15. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    A car doesn't need paint.

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