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Fingerboard Finishing Questions

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Hello all,

I have some really basic questions about finishing a fretboard...

What do you finish it with? I have three guitars, two strat copies, one with a maple fretboard, the other with rosewood, and a Yamaha Acoustic, rosewood.

The maple seems to have a thin clear coat on it, but both the rosewoods seem to be unfinished..?? Is this right? What should I do to finish the fretboard? I'm presuming you don't laquer it or anything?

I've got two pieces of timber that I'm currently working on for the fretboard:

Both native Australian, so USA people, you mightn't know what they are:

Cooktown Ironwood and Blackbean. I've planed both of them down so they are flat, and I've sanded them up to 2000grit, and wet sanded them. They are shiny so that you can see a good reflection in them. NICE :D

Is this ok? is it too much? does it need to be oiled/polished/laquered???

Thanks very much for your help!

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well, your going to be doing some radius sanding, so dont wear your arm out yet!

different woods require different finishes.

naturally oily woods like rosewood, ebony, bocote and so fourth dont need to be finished, just sanded real good.

maple, on the otherhad does need a finishing to protect the fingerboard. Im not sure what most people use for the finishing tho, im sure you could find somthing in some tourtials.

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Some people apply a little lemon oil to rosewood boards I use oilsoap myself so I can clean it while polishing it up and getting rid of the old buildup around the frets.

Maple needs a clearcoat for protection since it will absorb any oils on contact from your fingers and they are almost impossible to draw out. They can be cleaned with Naptha or Lighter fluid and some people use extra fine steel wool as well but the board still needs protection. A thin coat of any clear will do as long as you give it enough time to dry but for the most part the imports are using a poly and the custom shops still use lacquers.

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Hi, Yeah, I know that I have to radius them, just wanted to see what they'd come out like...too impatient :D

Other than asking around the local shops, is there anyway I can find out if my wood is oily enough to leave un-laquered, or would it be best to just laquer it a bit in case? or put some lemon oil on it?

What do you all recommend?

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Sounds like a couple of winners to me! Blackbean is decribed as being "greasy", meaning it shouldn't need any finish, and at least one Australian who is using Cooktown ironwood as a fretboard recommends an occasional coat of lemon oil as the only protection necessary. As hard and dense as Cooktown ironwood is, I'd assume that it would be pretty hard on tools, but it ought to last forever with minimal care even without a finish. Here's some more info on each:


Cooktown ironwood (Dajara)

Looks good on paper, anyway, although the hardness of ironwood and the mineral content of blackbean might make working them a challenge. Let us know your results.

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Thank you all very much!!!!

I must say, after about 5 - 6 hours total of planing and sanding (mostly by hand) I am very happy with the results, even though I have to radius sand it anyway.

My uncle is a carpented and is getting it milled to the right size for me at work.

black bean is his favourite timber and he stroked it for half an hour - that's enough proof for me :D He was amazed at the results....

Looks like i'm on a winner, so far...For any other Aussies looking for native timber...I got both of these for $23, enough to make at least 6, maybe 10 fingerboards...Beautiful grain...Lazerides at Banyo in Brisbane...Highly recommended...

I've also hear that Gidgee would be ok.

Thanks all again, I'll post some pictures and let you know how it goes after I get them back and radius it all perfectly...

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