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Would using Danish oil on the back of my neck be a catastrophic mistake?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Basschair, Jul 19, 2005.

  1. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    I've been going back and forth on what to use to finish my neck, and have considered leaving it raw, since I like the feel of the wenge at about 400 to 600 grit. I had some odd cuts that I put some danish oil on and really liked the darkened look of the wenge and purpleheart, and it maintained the near-raw feel of the wood.

    I tried the tru oil, and though I liked it, I didn't like it as much. My understanding is that danish oil would not provide a lot of protection, but that wenge necks are known to be pretty stable (I read the "how do you finish your wenge necks" thread). Your thoughts on DO on the neck are appreciated!
  2. Danish oil is just a "lite" type of hardening oil similar to TO. TO just has more driers and hardeners added to it. Danish oil is a polymerized linseed oil - that is, it has been made to dry and harden by heating it to the point that the short chain molecules of the linseed oil form into longer chains (polymers) and that makes it a stronger form of finish when dry.

    So what are you trying to do with the finish on the wenge neck? There are only a few things that any finish will do anyway:

    - Protect the wood from moisture
    - Protect the wood from damage (impacts, scratches, etc.)
    - make the wood look better by bringing out the figure
    - stabilize the wood (related to the first trait above)

    From what I know about wenge, it probably wouldn't need any of these things when used as the back of a neck - maybe a little oil to make it look better - so exactly what are you trying to accomplish with the Danish oil?
  3. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    That's what I'm going for. On the test piece, it was a nice, rich, dark color. So, I'm wondering if there's any major reasons not to do it. I haven't coated the fingerboard with anything yet, so I guess that might be one.

    Actually, while on that subject, I know that CA and epoxy are endorsed here as far as fretless FB coatings are concerned, but is it absolutely necessary to put a coating on an ebony FB? Other than keeping grime, hand oils, and the like off of the FB wood, keeping the ebony from excessive string rubbing damage, are there other benefits? Could an oil go on it to darken it and then call it a day? I'm so used to my upright's FB, and that's pretty much the feel I was hoping to get.

    Back to the search function...
  4. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas

    Have pity on a member of the illiterati. Are you saying Danish Oil would be better than Truoil for a neck/body finish as far as protecting the wood is concerned? Or is it the other way 'round?
  5. I used it to finish my entire bass including the back of the neck. Then I applied a Minwax Paste Wax to it. It feels awesome. Very slick, smooth and non-sticky. I have not tried tru-oil yet, but it seems like everyone really likes it and are satisfied with the results.
  6. TruOil over Danish for protection because you can build TruOil up to levels that rival lacquer finishes and it hardens that way. Danish oil won't but that's not a slam on Danish oil. If you would like to keep the finish "organic" so that you can really feel the wood's texture, the danish oil is great. In fact, the TruOil can do much the same thing if it's thinned down with mineral spirits. The film that builds up with TruOil is more resistant to moisture IMO and that's consistent with it's original, intended use as a gunstock finish. But keep in mind that the terms "hard", "hardens", and "harder", are all relative to wood with nothing on it and not in comparison to lacquer or poly finishes. None of the oils will compare to those for impact protection.

    I'm just careful with my instruments and if it does get a dinger, I consider it just a small part of the life of the tool. That and the fact that the oils are such no-brainers to apply is the main reason I'm so fond of them as a natural finish. You really can't screw it up because I've never seen an oil make a piece of wood look bad. Sure, some oils won't dry and some won't soak in, but when they go on, every one - even vaseline :eek: - looks good on figured wood. If you decide that you really have screwed it up, you can easily prep the surface again for either more oil of the right type or another finish of your choice. It's that forgiving.
  7. Wolak, I wouldn't go changing just because TO is popular. Give it a try to see if you like it - it IS different but your approach is just fine. Ain't that Minwax Paste Wax the greatest stuff? :bassist: That's really my secret to putting the final touch to my TO finishes. A buffing with polishing compound and then a double coat of Minwax and some hard rubbing until it looks like a gym floor. There's something positively sensual about that stuff.
  8. Hambone,
    Minwax paste wax is great! It was my first time using it. I have only one coat on it and my bass looks awesome. It definitely added depth. I will be doing another coat. I think I might try the Tru-oil on my next project. . . as soon as I finish my first one.
  9. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    OK, Hambone, and thanks. One more question occurs to me: Can I use Danish Oil (Watco) for color and Truoil over it for more protection? Thanks.
  10. Sure, but I bet they are very similar in color. TruOil is a pretty deep amber.
  11. it is by no means 'necessary' to coat a fretless fingerboard with epoxy or CA. I'm a big fan of the epoxied fretless fingerboard mainly because of looks and sound. Epoxy can make a fingerboard sound with that attach and mwah much more than a non-coated fingerboard. Also, it will make your fingerboard more resistant to the string's abrasion, so it'll be a long time before the board needs a redress. CA has a similar effect, some people feel it is easier to apply than epoxy.
  12. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    Thanks, Hambone. Watco has a number of different shades/colors available. I'm still wrestling with the idea of putting a parts J together and looking for finish options. I'm not in any hurry, thankfully. I'd really like to do some sort of natural finish because I like the way it looks and I could do it (hopefully) myself. The only reservation I have would be that a Truoil finish on alder might not be hard enough to protect the wood so I might wind using something else (but what?) as a final finish.

    Part of it depends on the wood. Since I will be using alder, whether I do a natural finish may depend on the grain. If it looks too bland I may resort to paint instead. Perhaps a nice Sherwood Green. Lots of choices/decisions, here, but plenty of time to make them.
  13. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca

    Wilser, how do you protect the neck back and such before proceeding with an epoxy finish on the fingerboard? Do you tape it off, or is there a more effective method? I've got a bunch of West Systems epoxy here that I was going to use for the graphite rods...ran out of room, so no rods, so the WS epoxy is still sitting in the bag.

    I'll do a few searches later on the epoxy process.
  14. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    "Danish Oil" is in fact a mixture of vegetable oil and a diverse collection of solvents. Homebrew Danish Oil usually uses boiled linseed oil, and so does a few commersial products as well.

    However; Rustin's Danish Oil is Tung Oil+solvents.

    I would say that is the best of two worlds...and what I used so far, with great results - unwaxed... :eek:

    Another little comment: raw linseed oil does not build a very thick layer. But with very many layers (~10, acc to a cabinet makers article), you will have a nice cover for your wood.
    Boiled linseed oil builds up better. You will be fine with 5 layers, which is just 2 more than you'd like with tung oil.
  15. Must warn about raw linseed oil...ANY heat above 90º or so and linseed oil will get sticky quick! And don't think for a second that a bass in a case in a car won't get that hot. That many coats and I would think you are heading for disaster because raw linseed oil never truly cures.