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Macarel31

maple neck - use different finishing for neck and fretboard

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Hi,

I’m building my first own guitar and I bought an unfinished maple guitar neck (neck and fretboard).

To finish it, I would like to use tru oil. However, maple fretboard needs to be protected by an waterproof layer to avoid dirty stain on the wood. Tru oil is not a real oil because it became hard but can it provide a sufficient protective layer for maple?

If it’s not the case, can apply tru oil just on the neck part and use acrylic or polyurethane lacquer for the fretboard? Personally, I don’t seed any difficulties but perhaps I’m too confident.

Has anyone ever done that?

Thank you for your answers.

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Is there any reason why you wouldn't use acrylic or poly for the whole neck? If you're going to the trouble of just trying to finish the fret board in poly/acrylic, why not use the same finish for the entire neck instead?

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first, i'm curious. I've never tried a neck finished with tru-oil and i heard a lot of good thing about this. I have a guitar and a bass but i think that the necks are finished with poly. So i would like to test a neck with tru oil.

The second point is that it's nor necessary to have a space ventilated such as for nitro or poly. I didn't have a ventilated place. So tru oil is very convenient for me. Acrylic finish can be less toxic than poly or nitro but i didn't found a lot of personne that use this kind of stuff for the neck. So i don't know if it's really the best choice for the neck and what specific product i can used.

 

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@Macarel31, you're right about the toxicity. Spraying anything with a solvent will get into your lungs unless you're properly protected and have adequate facilities. Wipe-on finishes, be they lacquers (poly) or oils also evaporate solvent fumes which can be very harmful even without the finish mist.

The main issue with partly lacquering and partly oiling is that oil and lacquer don't mix. In a single piece of wood the pores will absorb the oil to an unknown depth and direction. Lacquer won't stick to oil, and in the worst case the oil can seep under the lacquered area causing blisters.  If you have a glue joint between the fingerboard and the neck, the glue should act as a barrier to prevent the oil from getting to the fretboard. Shellac is also a good choice in between where you want to make sure that the oil won't affect the lacquer.

You can oil a maple fretboard as well. Just do it thoroughly, making the oil really get sucked into the pores. High frets can help to prevent wearing off a little, More importantly, wipe the fretboard clean after every playing session. No matter how well you do the finishing and maintenance, you'll end up with a worn out look. Then you'll just have to scrape the surface clean with a single edge razor blade and redo the oiling process.

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7 hours ago, Bizman62 said:

Lacquer won't stick to oil,

Actually, I've never had a problem with doing this, as long as the oil has fully dried. This has always been Danish oil which also an oil finish as opposed to purely oil. I've never finished a guitar with lacquer over Tru-oil, but I did spill some on a cured Tru-oil film on a test project. The only way I could get the lacquer off that was with sand paper.....and then I did finish a guitar with lacquer over Tru-oil.....see below.

SR

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I had forgotten this little test project. Halfway down the page the project starts and includes two sides sealed with Tru-oil and the whole thing sprayed with lacquer. There are a couple of finished shots on the next page.

SR

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And then this build took that lesson and also was sealed with Tru-oil and then finished with lacquer.

SR

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I stand corrected, to a degree. A vague memory tells a horror story about a guitar like yours. The lacquer came off in one piece after the edges had worn out or otherwise been damaged. There are differences in oils and how they cure but the common nominator is the greasy stuff which is slippery. Similarly, even a decade old oil based house paint will take latex (plastic alike poly) but the paint will tear off in large sheets pretty soon.

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fwiw op... I've got a number of necks that only have tru oil.  Musicman uses a dip in tru oil... lots of other guitar mfg use tru oil for the neck and while it doesn't have quite the seal that poly or nitro might... good enough for them/me. 

I too have used nitro over tru oil (sweet spot blonde).  seems to work fine for me. 

Even if the neck gets dirty after a while... it'd be pretty easy to clean it up and apply more tru oil. 

 

just a thought.

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1 hour ago, Bizman62 said:

I stand corrected, to a degree. A vague memory tells a horror story about a guitar like yours. The lacquer came off in one piece after the edges had worn out or otherwise been damaged. There are differences in oils and how they cure but the common nominator is the greasy stuff which is slippery. Similarly, even a decade old oil based house paint will take latex (plastic alike poly) but the paint will tear off in large sheets pretty soon.

To be honest, I have seen lacquer peel as well. I can't say I know the circumstances, but it always seemed be near a raw edge, like a tuner hole, so something likely found its way underneath it.

SR

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