Oil finishing raw neck - do fretboard as well?

TJT79

Member
Messages
666
Hi

I am building a Warmoth guitar - hand shaping the alder body, and bolting on a raw (unfinished) neck.

The neck is made from Goncalo Alves/Pao Ferro, and is suitable for using without any finish. But I would like to put a few thin coats of Boiled Linseed Oil (possibly mixed with a bit of Beeswax), just to protect it a bit from sweat/blood/beer etc :)

My question is this: is it a good idea to put a couple of very thin coats on the fretboard too? It's incredibly tight-grained so I doubt much at all will soak in, but might it be worth a shot?

I have read a long thread here about not oiling the fretboard regularly, but this was based on lemon (mineral) oil, and regular treatment. I am talking just a couple of coats now before installation, then probably nothing ever again. Also BLO is different in that it dries.

Help welcome!

Cheers
 

202dy

Member
Messages
441
Oiling the fingerboard:

Totally cosmetic. Totally unnecessary.

However, it will make the fingerboard look nice.
 

TJT79

Member
Messages
666
As long as there is no negative effect, I will go for it. I realise it's probably not necessary.

Thanks
 
Messages
23,988
Right.

My motivation for applying a couple very thin coats of Minwax Tung Oil Finish and wiping them off very thoroughly was.......

I put some Bartley's Grain Filler (oil based, no longer available for sale) on the fretboard and along the sides of the rosewood to fill some of the pores and even out the color of the board wood. The drying oil finish went on there to seal the fully dried grain filler in. I did not want the Bartley's coming off on my fingers, and I wanted the look to be longer lasting.

What this does mean, though, when playing in ridiculously hot and sweltering conditions (high dew point, direct sun, no breeze), is the sweat cannot soak much into that nice reservoir we call a fretboard slab. Which is one of the nicer advantages of playing rosewood boards sometimes, to be honest. Not as slick as a hard finish maple board where the sweat dwells in pools, but unfinished rosewood really can hold some sweat when you need it to.
 

Tone Meister

Member
Messages
3,266
Subscribed. In the same situation with a new build and am interested to hear what some of the pro luthiers have to say. I'm looking more to protect the wood than anything else, but whatever finish I decide to use must not cause drag on the neck.
 
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poolshark

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,361
Most fretboard woods are fine raw, but BLO derivatives will seal it, darken it some and generally make it look nice. When I oil finish a raw neck, I do a handful of coats on the whole thing, then follow up with steel wool and paste wax. Shiny and smooth.
 

NoahL

Member
Messages
1,427
Once on impulse I tung-oil-varnished a rosewood board along with the rest of the guitar. Fewer coats, though, and wiped off thoroughly. It was lovely -- smoother, prettier, more like a maple board in feel. Since then I've seen several posts from guys who say they do it with every rosewood board that they own.
 

TJT79

Member
Messages
666
OK, decision made. I will melt some beeswax and mix with the Linseed oil. Apply hot, wipe off everything I can. Do this 3-5 times, leaving the thinnest coat possible each time. I've done this with wooden sculptures and bowls before and they turned out well.

Thanks all.

Just finished shaping the body, now playing with dye to give it some colour....
 

Tone Meister

Member
Messages
3,266
OK, decision made. I will melt some beeswax and mix with the Linseed oil. Apply hot, wipe off everything I can. Do this 3-5 times, leaving the thinnest coat possible each time. I've done this with wooden sculptures and bowls before and they turned out well.

Thanks all.

Just finished shaping the body, now playing with dye to give it some colour....

If you have the means, how about posting some pictures of your technique and progress. I am very familiar with the linseed oil-bees wax finish but never considered using it on a raw guitar neck until now.
 

TJT79

Member
Messages
666
Sure, but it might not be very soon. I need to finish the body first, then will start on the neck. If you've done the linseed/beeswax mix on other dense woods, I don't imagine the guitar neck will be much different. The key will be to keep it warm (and therefore runny), and remove absolutely everything I can - I don't want to build a layer really - more just fill the pores.

I've taken photos of the whole process from rectangular body blank up to staining today, so I will probably post something soonish.
 

Tone Meister

Member
Messages
3,266
I am familiar with the linseed/beeswax finishes, but I haven't actually applied one myself. Just built a beautiful partscaster - Tele-style neck on a Strat-style body - and the neck is raw wood. I put it together Friday and played two shows over the weekend to make sure it wasn't going to be a dog. It turned out to be a very nice build, so now I plan to disassemble it and finish the neck.



 
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VaughnC

Silver Supporting Member
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18,982
Regular, unboiled linseed oil is edible...but I'd be careful with boiled linseed oil as the boiling process makes it toxic for human consumption. How toxic would it be with just your hands in contact with wood so treated? Don't know...but I don't think I'd risk using it on my guitar like I might a chair.
 
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202dy

Member
Messages
441
Modern boiled linseed oil contains chemical drying agents. They are toxic.

They used to boil linseed oil to make finishes. Some of those factories burned during the process. Linseed oil, boiled or not, is flammable. At least until it dries. Which is why oil soaked rags should be laid flat to dry on a non flammable surface before disposing. Alternatively, they can be put in a fireproof container that has a lid.

Raw linseed oil is edible.
 

TJT79

Member
Messages
666
How toxic are we talking??

I am talking tiny amounts on a guitar neck. Seriously doubt that it would be enough to be harmful.

Am I wrong?
 

202dy

Member
Messages
441
Very toxic if taken internally. The dryers are typically mixed with petroleum distillates. That was the point that Vaughn was making.

When dry (polymerized) it is more or less harmless.
 

blong

Member
Messages
2,685
Don't underestimate gunstock oil, available at Academy for about $5. If done thin enough (2-5 coats), it feels like raw wood, but it's protected with the oil. It feels like the MusicMan necks that are gunstock oiled. Check it out. It's so easy to use it is ridiculous. Rub on a coat, let it dry for an hour or two, rub on another, stell wool it.

Bob
 

TJT79

Member
Messages
666
There is no Tru-Oil or gunstock oil available locally where I live (central Argentina).

Having said that, my father-in-law used to have guns so he may have some still. Will find out.

If not it's going to be BLO and beeswax.
 




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