PDA

View Full Version : Oil finish on a maple neck/fretboard?


guit_lar
11-07-2011, 09:44 AM
I'm refinishing an all-maple neck. Wondering why I couldn't use some sort of oil to finish it (such as the Behlen fretboard oil I have) rather than apply a hard finish.
Anybody do this? Or even play the neck bare, perhaps with a coat of hard wax on it.
I've got a mahogany/rosewood neck finished this way, why not maple?
I'm especially interested in how an oil finish might affect the sonic characteristics. I like the sound and feel of maple necks, though I've never played one without a hard finish.

Tidewater Custom Shop
11-07-2011, 10:03 AM
I love Tru-Oil on maple necks. Haven't tried it on any other wood yet, and I haven't had a maple/maple neck to try it on.

Here's a maple/RW neck for a customer build. Vintage tinted the wood, then applied about 12 coats of Tru-Oil and buffed by hand. The fretboard was worked by me then treated with Fret Doctor. The neck is like your favorite air guitar.

http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh172/tidalsurge/Tidewater/HOT2/HOT2Parts.jpg
http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh172/tidalsurge/Tidewater/HOT2/HOT2Neck.jpg

guit_lar
11-07-2011, 10:33 AM
What is special about Tru-Oil? What is it's composition?

Tidewater Custom Shop
11-07-2011, 11:22 AM
I don't know its composition. I chose to use Tru-Oil because of the many reviews I read. And now that I've tried it, I like it. The neck feels like it's finished, not raw, and isn't sticky.

guit_lar
11-07-2011, 12:31 PM
I have some Watco, which I think is an oil/varnish mixture (or maybe just polymerized oil), and I have the Behlen fingerboard oil, which they state as drying hard with no tackiness. Who knows what it actually is in terms of its composition... I don't see why an oil that works for a fingerboard wouldn't work for the back of the neck, though on the bottle of Behlen's they state that it's for rosewood, ebony, etc., no mention of maple.
I've used shellac with great success on necks (incl. fingerboard) and is my fallback solution. I'm still curious though about oil (or one of the oil products) on a maple neck...

buddastrat
11-07-2011, 12:42 PM
Tru oil is a varnish from what I've been told, go thin and light coats, it can get kinda thick and even can feel gummy. It is very easy to get nice, shiny, gloss coat if that's what you're going for. It's pretty thick by then, and it seems a simple coat of nitro or shellac will be thinner and less time consuming.

Tru oil straight to a plain maple neck will be very pale, I don't like that look unless you put a lot of coats on, and then it's getting thick and glossy. I prefer the natural feel. It's alright if you use one thin coat, but then it can look anemic. I like danish oil more because it's thinner and dries real fast (15 minutes) and it feels more natural instead of plastic coated or glassy. YMMV.

I just did a comparison between Danish oil and then sanded it off and did tru oil. For me, I like the natural feel of the thinner Danish oil, much less "varnishy". Tru oil smells awful too. A few necks I did with TO seemed to smell even months later!

John Coloccia
11-07-2011, 04:45 PM
I now use Tru-Oil exclusively on my necks. After I apply it and it's fully cured, I rub it out with 0000 steel wool. It feels like wood that's been sanded to 600+ grit except it doesn't get dirty and grimmy. It's easily the best feeling neck finished I've ever tried, and it's also by far the easiest to apply. That's just my opinion, though.

Budda: did you try rubbing it out with steel wool? It makes a tremendous difference in how the finish feels. I don't like the Tru-Oil if it's not rubbed out. Actually, I don't like any neck finish that's glossy. It seems to help with the smell, too, though I've found if you apply it very thinly the smell is only around for maybe a week or so.

guit_lar
11-07-2011, 05:46 PM
I just discovered something very interesting. You can get a good idea of what is in a product by examining the material safety data sheet. Just Google the product name followed by "material safety data sheet". Some components are listed as proprietary, but you can find out basically what it is you are dealing with.
Tru-oil is very different from Behlen fingerboard oil...

Tidewater Custom Shop
11-07-2011, 08:07 PM
I think Tru-Oil is a great sub for nitro or poly or leaving raw. I apply very thin coats by hand AFTER I stain the wood with a mix of StewMac amber dye and denatured alcohol (because I like the tint). After the wood is dry from the stain, I apply 3 thin coats of Tru-Oil at a time, then buff it out w/ 0000 and apply 3 more coats, buff, see if I like the feel and stop, or apply 3 more coats. The back of the neck above took 12 coats and feels lightning fast - oh, and I do wax the neck with good car wax when the finish is new, and keep it slick with Fender guitar wax. I prefer a gloss -

guit_lar
11-07-2011, 08:16 PM
I think I'm going to go ahead and try Tru-oil on this maple/maple neck. Probably won't tint it beforehand because I don't feel like bothering with it...

nateclark
11-07-2011, 09:05 PM
I've used tung oil on necks for customers who requested it. It is easy enough to work with, adds a little depth of color and has some gloss if you build it up.

I've also used boiled linseed oil, I like that even more: easy to apply, has a dull sheen and darkens the maple a few shades.

In my experience, Oils will give any run-out or figure a blotchy look, kind of like stained cherry. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it's definitely a different look than lacquer or polyurethane.

guit_lar
11-07-2011, 09:41 PM
According to the MSDS, Tru-Oil is a little more than half solvent (mineral spirits). Of the remainder, about a quarter is linseed oil and the remainder is "modified oils", which I'd guess are polymerized oils, including linseed, maybe tung. One nice thing I know about linseed oil is that it darkens nicely with age. As far as this finish possibly looking a little different than the usual hard finishes, I'm very comfortable with that, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out in terms of look and feel.

buddastrat
11-08-2011, 08:52 AM
Here's an interesting pic where a guy showed different finishes after being exposed to sun for almost a month of sunlight.


http://www.tdpri.com/forum/attachments/finely-finished/58369d1284342960t-tru-oil-question-24-days-aging-l-jpg

Birchwood Casey says tru oil will not yellow with age, so maybe it's the wood that ambered in teh tru oil finish. I finished a neck in tru oil back in '00 or so, with tru oil. Sold the neck off. Recently a friend of mine got a hold of it, and it looks exactly as it did back then. No amber color at all after a decade.

buddastrat
11-08-2011, 09:09 AM
I think Tru-Oil is a great sub for nitro or poly or leaving raw. I apply very thin coats by hand AFTER I stain the wood with a mix of StewMac amber dye and denatured alcohol (because I like the tint). After the wood is dry from the stain, I apply 3 thin coats of Tru-Oil at a time, then buff it out w/ 0000 and apply 3 more coats, buff, see if I like the feel and stop, or apply 3 more coats. The back of the neck above took 12 coats and feels lightning fast - oh, and I do wax the neck with good car wax when the finish is new, and keep it slick with Fender guitar wax. I prefer a gloss -

I like the color you got in the pic above. Nice tone. But I wouldn't call that glossy neck, a fast feeling neck. Your finish looks very shiny and glassy, which you did an amazing job achieving. Poly, nitro or heavy oil/varnish built up thick and my hand just sticks and squeaks around like basketball shoes on a gym floor, especially when sweating.

This is the kind of finish I'm trying to get from a new neck-
http://www.musikraft.com/avactis-images/DSCF3217.JPG


The only way I've been able to get this, is to play a raw maple neck for years and it gets that slippery, silky feel from the hand's oils and over time compressing the wood. I've got the compressing wood down, thanks to a pool player showing me how they make new sticks feel old, using a shot glass. Anyone have some ideas on how to get this tone/finish on a new neck? It looks like a tung oil/varnish but maybe one or two fine coats.

EADGBE
11-08-2011, 04:40 PM
I bought a used guitar with an unfinished all maple neck. I bought some pure tung oil and I refinish my neck every once in a while with it. I don't think it effects the tone that much. If it does it probably makes it a little warmer sounding. Personally I would have rather have had it polyurethaned. But I really don't have the proper equipment to spray it myself.

http://www.realmilkpaint.com/oil.html

dspellman
11-09-2011, 10:07 PM
I'm refinishing an all-maple neck. Wondering why I couldn't use some sort of oil to finish it (such as the Behlen fretboard oil I have) rather than apply a hard finish.
Anybody do this? Or even play the neck bare, perhaps with a coat of hard wax on it.
I've got a mahogany/rosewood neck finished this way, why not maple?
I'm especially interested in how an oil finish might affect the sonic characteristics. I like the sound and feel of maple necks, though I've never played one without a hard finish.

There are a number of oil finishes that will work. I'm unfamiliar with Behlen fretboard oil's contents, but you'll want to know that before you apply it to the neck. Most fretboard oils are mineral oil with minor additives or cleaning agents added. Behlen's claim that it hardens suggests that it's a linseed oil derivative.

Linseed oil, Boiled Linseed Oil, Tru-Oil (which is nothing more than boiled linseed oil), Minwax's "Tung Oil Finish" and the various Watco Danish Oil finishes are all essentially the same. A polymerizing oil soaks into the wood and forms a relatively hard finish. Mineral oils won't do that.

You'll find a number of companies offering linseed and tung oil finishes, including Carvin. There's no sonic benefit to these finishes; while they may look and feel like bare (ish) wood, weighing the neck before and after application will tell you that it's not a light/thin finish. These finishes are not "hard" in that they're not particularly protective. Rosewood and ebony fretboards have natural oils in the wood itself, such that it actually never needs any kind of finish or oil application (even if it starts looking dried out). Applications of oil are largely cosmetic, with some minor benefits in keeping moisture in liquid form out of the wood. Maple, however, is NOT one of those woods that has a large enough natural oil content, and it definitely needs a finish. This is why Fender simply lacquered the entire neck, including the fretboard. You'll notice that when this lacquer wears off, you get a lot of dirt in the worn places. In addition, moisture from your hands begins to break down the wood. Maple necks can completely lose stability if subjected to moisture that breaks down the wood over time.

My recommendation is that oil finishes only be used on the back of the neck and that they be refreshed at least every other year. You'll find, however, that the neck gets dirty quickly and that it's subject to dents and dings; the finish simply doesn't offer that kind of protection. The best finish would be a thin poly-type finish (the newer/modern ones are actually quite thin), followed by a lacquer finish, followed by a polymerizing oil. The poly and lacquer (both acrylic and nitrocellulose) can be applied in satin versions that will give you the same playability and feel as an oil finish, but will do a lot better job of protecting the neck in the long run, and can actually be thinner (and lighter weight) than oil finishes that soak in.

epluribus
11-10-2011, 07:21 AM
Wow, good stuff DS, and timely too! Sure glad I sat here dithering a few days before committing the axe to oil. :beer

...now I got cogitatin' to do...

--Ray

Hm...given your druthers, what do you recommend for satin finishes? Big fan of 'em here, esp the feel on the neck.

John Coloccia
11-10-2011, 07:57 AM
For the record, Tru-Oil is more of a varnish, I believe. It doesn't behave like boiled linseed oil. It forms a film and gets hard very quickly. I suspect there are some resins in Tru-Oil and the BLO is there for color and lubrication (i.e. so you can wipe it on). I've never been able to find any definitive information on this, but if someone handed me a bottle and told me to identify it, I would experiment with it for a couple of days and say "wiping varnish".

Deric
11-13-2011, 03:04 PM
How long are you guys waiting between coats of Tru Oil?

John Coloccia
11-13-2011, 03:13 PM
How long are you guys waiting between coats of Tru Oil?

I usually do 3 very light coats a day, maybe an hour or two apart. It's a bit like lacquer in that you really don't want to trap undried oil underneath new oil or it can take a very long time to fully cure. Drying oils require oxygen to cure...the same reaction that will cause a pile of towels with a drying oil on it to spontaneously combust (boiled linseed oil, tung oil, etc).

The next day, I do another coat or two depending on how it looks. The next day I feel it. If it feels hard and cured, I rub it with steel wool. Usually I'm in no rush and just let it sit for a few days while I'm doing other things. If you stick to very thin coats, it cures very fast. Putting on thicker coats to speed it up can be counterproductive.

Deric
11-13-2011, 06:09 PM
Thanks