How do you get a high-gloss from Tru-oil finish?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Tesla_Energy, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. Khromo

    Khromo Silver Supporting Member

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    HAHAHA!

    I only did this one because it will likely be the last time I get to work on a solid rosewood instrument, and I am going to keep it! I can't imagine how much I would have to charge to do this for some one else!

    I actually have this bass' twin brother as well. It still has the original factory gloss finish. I put Bartolini pickups in it. Heavy as heck. The bass has a very sharp attack, which I'm hoping will be rolled off by the oil finish and chamber on the fretless.

    Give me another few weeks, I'll have it finished and I'll post up some pictures!
     
  2. stratamania

    stratamania Member

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    Just goes to show though, what can be achieved given time, skill and patience.
     
  3. Mr Fingers

    Mr Fingers Member

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    Does anyone here have experience with Tru-Oil finishes over a long period of time (say, 20 years?) I really like a thin finish that does not look and feel like a coating of plastic over the wood, so I love French Polish, though I most often use nitro for convenience, and can get that pretty thin. But it seems to me that unless I end up with my own spray system, the available products are more and more plastic-like, which eliminates the advantage I have always found in them over Tru-Oil and commercial varnishes, which were comparatively more "rubbery" even when dry. But this really seems to have changed, and I'm interested in exploring both oil and varnish finishes now. But in my experience, oil, particularly, has darkened over time and sometimes reverts to a (relatively) soft, gummy surface. Does Tru-Oil do that? Or does the hardening continue? Thanks to those who posted the examples seen here. Great guitars, and really nice lustrous (as opposed to shiny) surfaces.
     
  4. Khromo

    Khromo Silver Supporting Member

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    I've got gun stocks finished in Tru-Oil and then beat on and abused for 20 years. They look good, for twenty years of rough living. Instruments get more of that handling wear in spots, but I have found that while oil doesn't wear like poly, it will take some wear and it wears gracefully. A touch-up is very easy to accomplish, even for a hobbyist.

    Tru-Oil, done right, will never feel "rubbery, soft, or gummy!" I think there are two things to consider. A lot of the examples of oil finishes you will handle were executed by guys who were not pros, and who chose oil because they did not have access to spray gear or a work shop. A lot of those finishes were applied too thickly, and not allowed sufficient drying time.

    A second point is that I believe the closely-guarded formula for Tru-Oil has evolved over the years, and more hardeners and polymers have been stirred in there, as people got stupider and less capable of reading a label. The brewers knew there were a lot of sticky finishes and fingerboards out there, because people needed a more idiot-proof product. So they started producing a formula that dries even faster than it used to, which was fast enough if you knew what you were doing.

    The problem is the time it takes from prepped wood to handing it to the customer. You apply the finish (on tight-grained, less porous wood) once a day for the first week, once a week for the next month, once a month for the next year, and once a year for the rest of your life. That's the old schedule. Modern Tru-Oil probably holds up better than that, but the point is I can take about 3 1/2 months to put an oil finish on tight-grained wood like walnut or maple, or I can take one month or less to shoot a urethane finish.

    Modern commercial finishes can go on smooth and thin, wear like iron, and look great. Life has never been better for a finisher, and you can easily produce great finishes with a $400 to $1K Fuji rig. I'd never bother with oil or nitro if I weren't doing musical instruments.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  5. JimmyB24

    JimmyB24 Member

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    Does anyone know if Tom used any mineral spirits during the grain fill process? He said he used the slurry method with Tru-Oil but doesn't mention if he used it with spritz. Thanks.
     
  6. stratamania

    stratamania Member

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    From what he says in the linked post I do not believe so.

    How do you get a high-gloss from Tru-oil finish?
     
    JimmyB24 likes this.
  7. JimmyB24

    JimmyB24 Member

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    Anyone have a spare Tru-Oil Spray Can that they're not using?
     
  8. diego.fresh

    diego.fresh Member

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    Hey guys, this thread had been very valuable. I'm using TruOil for the first time, finishing a maple neck I bought on eBay. Nice piece of wood, but not overly complex like some others. Even after only 3 coats, the life is coming out of this wood now. Some pics:


     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2018
    DaveNJ and redgold like this.
  9. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Supporting Member

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    3 coats is good...:)
     
  10. JimmyB24

    JimmyB24 Member

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    RIP Tom Pettingil aka Quarter. He did great work. Still trying to perfect his method to this day
     
    g-mane, zul and burningyen like this.
  11. zul

    zul Supporting Member

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    Hats off to Tom. I learned a bunch from him.
     

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