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correct process to apply and polish tru-oil to get a High gloss?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by mangus, Feb 3, 2018.

  1. mangus

    mangus TDPRI Member

    Age:
    34
    98
    Nov 2, 2016
    Portugal
    Hi there,
    I ordere a bottle of tru-oil from an online store yesterday after reading very good reviews of results but now I have to say I'm confused. Although everyone agrees that TO is good opinions diverge when it comes to the correct way to apply it and polish it to a high gloss.

    If it'snot too much to ask: What is your process?

    On a different note, can one buff it the way you would nitro? Polishing pads?
     

  2. bender66

    bender66 Friend of Leo's

    Jan 18, 2010
    on my bike
    I've yet to polish it up to a high gloss because I've been happy with it as is.

    On this neck I just (almost)completed I'm going to go the old denim & paste route & see how much I can buff it to that slick look. Mostly the headstock where I'll put the decal.
     

  3. mangus

    mangus TDPRI Member

    Age:
    34
    98
    Nov 2, 2016
    Portugal
    on a different forum (Gearpage) I found this tutorial:

    once the guitar is well sanded to at least 180 grit ( 220 is better)
    Start with a "soak coat" first
    Use a small rag to wipe on liberal amounts of oil and keep the surface wet for 10-15 minutes. Wipe off excess and let dry for as long as you want. but not less than 24 hours. this coat is very important as it seals the wood and the deeper the oil goes the better your protection against moisture later. pay attention to end grains as they soak up more oil.

    2. Starting with 400 grit sandpaper. dip the sandpaper in a small amount of oil and sand in circular motions in a small area. the oil will begin to make a paste from the sanding dust, that you will want to push into the grain as much as possible. once the oil/dust paste starts to get stiff-ish, wipe off excess paste going across the wood grain. let dry another 24 hours. woods like ash ( or other wide grain woods) may require a sanding block to keep the wood surfaces flat. Clsoe grains like mahogany and Maples usually don't need a block.

    3. Repeat step 2 useing 600 grit.

    4. Repeat with 1200 grit

    5. Take a 400 count cotton sheet and cut into a 12" square. roll into a very tight, smooth surfaced, ball.
    use the ball as you did the sandpapers.. dip into the oil and "polish" the wood surface.
    when the oil gets warm and stiff-ish,
    wipe off VERY vigoursly WITH the grain, with a clean 400 count sheet ( balled up) damped with a VERY small amount of orange or lemon oil.
    Buff and polish during and after this wipe off step and you should have a very nice glossy French polished finish. be careful of fingerprints.. as the oil drys, it will keep imprints in its surface.
    I recommend you wear one cotton glove on one hand to hold the guitar with while you buff. watch for hard items on your worksurface. I fact I recommend that you use something soft to do this whole process on.

    let dry another 24 and your done.

    Can one follow this or should I do something else?
     
    nojazzhere likes this.

  4. dan40

    dan40 Tele-Holic

    699
    Aug 19, 2015
    Richmond Va
    There are many methods when it comes to using Tru-oil and many of them produce a fine result. I usually like to keep it simple and just wipe on many, many light coats until it builds up the gloss I want. Be patient because it does take alot of coats to get to a glossy look. Let each coat dry before applying the next or it will turn into a sticky mess that does not want to dry properly.
     

  5. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Meister

    That tutorial from the Gearpage sounds pretty involved! :)

    The nice about using TruOil is that it is easy to work with and you don't need any special equipment.

    One thing that I do with TruOil that helps me get a nice finish quicker is to take a piece of a paper coffee filter and fold it up into about a 4 layered pad and use that to smooth out the TruOil after I've spread it out real thin with my finger. This works especially well on maple neck fret boards to keep the TruOil from building up along the frets. For fret boards I make a narrow pad and draw it across the width of the fret board, along the side of the fret. This really helps!

    If you keep your TruOil layers nice and flat and smooth as you go, you shouldn't need to do hardly any sanding, and hopefully no sanding at all.

    I've never machine buffed a TO finish, instead I give it a good going over with a Scotchbrite pad (the white ones for polishing) followed up by a hand polish with a cotton rag.

    Like the other posters suggested - keep your coats real thin and allow them to dry before applying the next coat.

    Best Regards,
    Geo.
     
    bender66 likes this.

  6. mangus

    mangus TDPRI Member

    Age:
    34
    98
    Nov 2, 2016
    Portugal
    Regarding the fretboard. Since it's roseacer(cheap Rosewood replacement) fretboard I don't want to oil it but what about the sides ?
    Do you stop oiling where the fretboard starts or do you go over the sides of the fretboard and scrape with a blade?
     

  7. Tomasi

    Tomasi Tele-Meister

    115
    Jan 26, 2016
    Finland

  8. mangus

    mangus TDPRI Member

    Age:
    34
    98
    Nov 2, 2016
    Portugal

  9. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Meister

    I've TruOil'ed a couple of maple necks that had different wood for the fret board, one with rosewood and one with ziricote, and I just ran the TruOil right up the edge of the fret board with my finger.

    You'll be applying real light coats, so it's pretty easy to control the application and confine the TO to just the edge of the fret board and keep it off of the face of the f'board. It gives a real nice and classy touch to the neck with the edge of the fret board being TO'ed to a smooth and glossy finish, almost like binding. No need for any scraping either.

    There is a lot of info and different threads on this forum about applying TruOil. It seems that the folks that had the the best looking finishes all said pretty much the same thing - real light and even coats, and let it dry before the next coat. Good Luck to ya!

    Best Regards,
    Geo.
     

  10. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Much of the "trick" in getting a high gloss out of Tru Oil lies in the wood preparation and sealing. Tru oil does not build much mil thickness and can sometimes be wiped partially off as more is applied, so you won't get the same film build you can with lacquers, polyurethanes or polyesters.

    If the wood has fairly open grain or is somewhat rough cut it needs to be sanded with progressively finer paper (Fre Cut is usually best as it doesn't load as much as others), always using sanding blocks - curved ones on curved surfaces. And it can help to use sanding sealer first on woods other than very tight-grianed hardwoods (i.e. maple...most maple that is).

    Even after application you have to be careful. Polishing with stick-type polishing compounds and cloth wheels will usually get you the highest gloss but you can burn through Tru Oil in a heartbeat - so practice quite a bit on scrap before you start on "real" parts.

    All that being said it takes a good amount of luck to get a gloss approaching what most would call "high gloss". It's really not the best material for that type of application IMO.
     

  11. mangus

    mangus TDPRI Member

    Age:
    34
    98
    Nov 2, 2016
    Portugal
    Sorry but I couldn't understand, did you take it to the bottom edge(A) or to the top edge(B)?
    Flu seems to have affected my logical reasoning

    [​IMG]
     

  12. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    58
    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA
    Surface prep

    Many dozens of very thin coats. very thin. Like just barely covering.
     

  13. mangus

    mangus TDPRI Member

    Age:
    34
    98
    Nov 2, 2016
    Portugal
    my stain isn't getting as black as i want. Can I use india ink and then tru-oil?
     

  14. mangus

    mangus TDPRI Member

    Age:
    34
    98
    Nov 2, 2016
    Portugal
    could I ask a car painter to paint it and then finish it with truoil?
     
    Indy-Tele likes this.

  15. Sconnie

    Sconnie Tele-Holic

    Age:
    25
    725
    May 1, 2017
    Denver, CO
    Make sure any open pore grain is filled (don't use epoxy here, it doesn't work well with TO, the regular stuff is fine), one big dose to start is ok but I'd give it a few days (more like a week) at least before starting subsequent coats, which you should apply with a folded up coffee filter IMO.

    Building a film thick enough for buffing will take a few dozen coats, no more than 2 per day if they're very thin (which they should be ;)). I wet sanded (very, very lightly) with 2000 grit and mineral spirits after every 4 coats to knock off the dust motes, this sanding back is what makes it take forever: 4 steps forward, 3 steps back... but it is so worth it! I would not recommend buffing with a machine, just do the oft-mentioned hand-buffed "old denim and machine polish."

    Oh yeah and wait a month after the final coat before trying to buff.

    I got high gloss on a maple neck after a month of work, then a month of waiting, then a couple hours of buffing. Would I do it all again? Only for another special guitar. Would I do half as many coats and buff that to as high gloss as it could take? Yes, in a heartbeat, to every other project. A good finish with TO will make you think "who needs nitro?"
     

  16. Mat UK

    Mat UK Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Feb 17, 2009
    London, UK
    I just finished a build using an ebony dye, then India ink, finished with tru oil. If you use a shellac based India ink it will partially act as a sealer too.

    Unfinished
    C932ECBB-5756-4E02-8454-94CC10E7250F.jpeg

    Black dye, spirit based
    FCB12477-CB49-42B3-B3A0-7F5D29F2C2EE.jpeg

    Indian ink - shellac based
    DC8DFC4F-0E7C-43ED-91E5-AC3FEE1E984B.jpeg

    Finished with tru oil (12 coats, satined with scotch pads, not flat gloss)
    776A85A1-F554-4239-A74F-26C96972D522.jpeg

    I found the process fairly painless although dust is a pain in the ass when you start building the tru oil - I used latex gloves, applying it with my finger to avoid any lint from the cloth applying method
     
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  17. mangus

    mangus TDPRI Member

    Age:
    34
    98
    Nov 2, 2016
    Portugal
    Wow, what India ink did you apply? Would Pelikan India ink work?
    That's one beautiful beast!!
    I'm going to visit a few bookshops and supermarkets and look for india ink with shellac in it. What comercial names does shellac take?
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018

  18. FerruleCat

    FerruleCat Tele-Meister Gold Supporter

    348
    May 2, 2017
    Tulsa, OK
    On my last neck, I had good results thinning about half of my coats with mineral spirits, which gives you a little open time to buff it in.
     
    mangus likes this.

  19. Mat UK

    Mat UK Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Feb 17, 2009
    London, UK
    Thanks.

    I used this Indian ink - I found it much cheaper on eBay. Read the label on the back they tend to be either shellac based or water based.

    For what it’s worth, If I did it again I wouldn’t bother with tru oil on the body and I would use nitro instead. It takes along time to build up tru oil on a body - my first build It took about 50 coats until I got a truly flat and glossy finish that I was happy with, this time I did 12 with no intention of building to a flat finish... I’ve just got better things to do with my life!
     

  20. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Meister

    Mangus, I run the TO up to point "B" on a neck that has a fret board that would not normally be finished, like rosewood. There isn't really any reason to be concerned with an objectionable "build-up" of finish at the edge with TO.

    I don't think I've ever applied more than 6 or 8 coats on a neck, except for the face of the head stock, which might get several more.

    I still have the neck with the ziricote fret board on one of my guitars; it's a roasted maple neck that I applied just 3 coats of TO, it looks good, feels really good, and I believe it has enough finish on it to protect the wood as well.

    This is just my opinion, but it might be worth noting: There are a bunch of different finishes for guitars, and a TruOil finish has it's own "niche" or place.
    TO comes in a bottle ready to apply, you don't need any special equipment to apply it, it doesn't have noxious fumes, no critical "time windows" for application (other than making sure the previous coat is dry), and it can deliver a good looking finish. But, if you are looking for a real deep and very glossy finish, there are other finishes that will get you there a lot faster.

    Best Regards,
    Geo.
     
    bender66 likes this.

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