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Mahogany & Tru-oil

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(that's their suggestion...not a good one at all; I didn't think it would work but tried anyway). Way, way too coarse; left scratches all over the place. I don't know what they're thinking.

They were thinking "Hey, if someone shoots this gun and it slides right out of their hand, we're in big trouble!". Don't forget, it's gunstock oil. :D

I still haven't figured out the "perfect" method for tru-oil, but between every coat or two I do rub the finish down with some 0000 steel wool. I still need to work on a more consistent wet-sanding method.

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... Started over, followed Birchwood Casey's instructions (don't do that, by the way!): ...

Yea, I remember reading that and wondering what they were thinking of.

I understand that you want to have enough grit to get a slurry going, but wasn't convinced to go coarser than what I finish sand with.

Another thing to avoid is using their sealer / filler product. I tested some on a walnut project I'm working on and was less than impressed.

I've used their stock and sheen product and like it though. Its a very fine pumice / rottenstone type abrasive in a liquid medium.

I've found it best to let the finish cure for 4 - 5 days or more first before using it. Too soon and you will cut too fast and get witness lines.

Another Tru Oil tip, (as per Birchwood Casey techs), you can thin it up to 50 / 50 with mineral spirits and shoot it through a gun.

It uses / wastes more material and takes a little longer to dry, but is nice for laying down a nice smooth final coats.

On my setup, a 2 part oil to 1 part spirits worked ok.

They sell the rattle cans too, I picked some up for testing so we'll see how that goes.

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I did some wet sanding with Tru-oil and 400 grit paper this time. Much better results, as you might expect. The figured mahogany looks absolutely great with Tru-oil. It just shimmers in the light. I love it.

I've done two rounds of wet sanding with 400, and there are still some unfilled pores visible, though.

When I wet sand, I'm not really seeing much of a slurry, although when I wipe off the excess across the grain, the cloth is mahogany-colored, so I guess the slurry is there.

How long are you guys waiting to wipe/scrape the excess after wet sanding, and what are you using to wipe/scrape it with?

Are you wet sanding with the grain or in a circular motion?

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I sand with the grain, then kind of burnish in the "slurry" cross grain with my fingers or palm of my hand.

The friction and heat from your hand will work it in and help set it.

You want to work it in till you feel the drag, almost dry.

Once I get it mostly filled, I just start applying multiple even wet coats, then when dry, block it back with some mineral spirits and some 1000.

Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Here is a walnut / birdseye lap steel that I'm finishing up.

Pic is after a final 1000 blocking and one coat of the rattle can spray.

I'm doing one more spray coat, then let it harden / cure for 4 - 5 days before I do the final rub out.



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Just the info I was looking for. Thanks. :D

I'll give that a shot. I think I wasn't working the slurry into the pores enough, or long enough. It was still mostly wet when I wiped off the excess across the grain.

Edit: One more thing--is mineral spirits the only suitable thinner for the purpose, or do you think naphtha would do the job? (Just asking because I already have naphtha on hand.)

Edited by Rick500
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  • 2 weeks later...

This may seem like sort of a silly question, but how are you guys applying your Tru-Oil? By hand (literally, meaning fingers, as suggested on bottle), with a brush, cloth, or...? I've just started experimenting with the stuff applying it by hand but I'm not sure that's the best way to do it. It's definitely nice to work with, though, cool to be able to apply indoors and not have to worry about toxic fumes and whatnot :D

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  • 2 months later...

Hey guys, I'm digging up an old thread, I know, but I had a few questions about the oil application.

-I bought a few fine brushes to do my staining, but never used them. Would they be advisable to use for applying oil, or would I not be able to get an even enough coat.

-How are you applying oil to the whole body in one go without smudging one of the sides when you put it down? I have blocks that I'm going to stick in the pickup cavities to elevate the front, but I don't know what to do about the back.

-Is the steel wool done with the grain, in circular motions....?

-How long is typical to let the oil set in before wiping it off?

-Doe tru-oil require a final buff before assembly? And if so, what/how?

This is my planned schedule:

-wipe-down with naptha to eliminate oils

-thick coat, 24hrs dry

-normal coat, 2hrs dry

-0000 wool

-2 more coats, 2hrs in between

-0000 wool, 400grit wetsand with oil

-2 coats, 2 hrs, 0000 wool, wetsand

-work up the coats in sets of 2, and up the grits to micromesh

Thanks all!

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hmm. i dont think you really need it to put on perfectly even flat layers of tru oil. what do you mean smudge the sides? i put it on with a rag, work it in, then wipe off for the first coat. then i pour a thick layer on, and sand with 800, wipe off, the do the same for 1000 and 2000. no need for a brush or something.

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By "smudging the sides" I mean, you oil the top of the guitar, then do the sides. Then to do the back of the guitar, you flip the body over. Do you just lay the oiled front on your work surface? I would be worried about sticking or smudging the oil coat. Or maybe it's an unfounded fear, who knows?

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I've never tried brushing it on. It is certainly worth a try and you will know soon enough if it works for you.

The good news is that there is not much you can do that can't be easily corrected.

There are many ways to apply Tru Oil and you will find a system that works for you.

On smudging, a thin coat gets hard enough in about an hour to handle gently.

When wiping it on, I place / elevate the piece on a couple rolled up Tshirts and do the top and sides, wait an hour or so, then flip it and do the back. By the time the back is dry enough to handle, the top and sides are ready for another thin coat.

Here is a steel I recently finished up. The bulk of the grain fill was done by wet sanding a slurry with 400 and Tru Oil.

The bulk of the body was built up built up by wiping it on with a cotton swatch, (bulk 2x2 gun cleaning patches), and blocking out with 1000.

Once I got a good level body established, I sprayed 2 coats over 2 days and then left it to cure for 4 days.

The final process was to lightly wet sand with some 2000 and wipe one very thin top coat on, just enough to wet it.


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Thanks for the info, Quarter! I was secretly hoping you'd chime in :D Those lap guitars you build are always beautiful.

I did the filling already with grain filler, so now it's just building coats. I'll get a few old shirts to lay down on the bench, then.

Also, I made a big mental boo-boo, haha. For some reason I was thinking that the oil can I had was a screw-off top, and it's a squirt top (I knew it was, I don't know why I thought otherwise), so the brush idea is out the window haha. I guess I'll either cut up some more shirts or get some cotton pads like you mentioned.

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Hey, another quick question to anyone who feels like answering. What's the general consensus on the wetsanding medium? The oil itself, water, water and soap, and mineral spirits are all suggestions I've heard. I'm leaning towards sanding with tru-oil because I want a relatively protective finish, and the more oil the better, even if it is just oil.

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I've used strait mineral spirits and oil thinned with spirits.

The thinned oil worked fine and had the advantage of not leaving light colored dry powdery deposits in low spots.

I think too that it reduced witness lines, but the way I finish off the last couple coats, witness lines are not an issue for me anyways.

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So I may have a problem. I wetsanded with 400 grit a few minutes ago, and ended up with this. And also this. Sanded right through the edges.......

400 grit! With a flat block and 400 grit wet sanding for less than a minute, I shouldn't have sand-through issues. I'm really irritated. I had 3 heavy coats of oil on it, too. :D :D

Is this common? I'm right back to the bare wood. If I oil it again, I don't want to have light splotches over the edges, and I DEFINITELY don't want to have to re-grain-fill.

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You shouldn't have to grainfill again, regardless. And 3 coats of oil is pretty light. Sand through at that point is no big deal. Just keep adding coats. After 10 or 15 coats you shouldn't get any sand through. Also, try using 0000 wire wool dipped in naphtha between every second coat, and don't worry about level sanding for a while. If you apply the oil well that should be enough leveling while you are building coats. Just remember, that whatever you screw up you can fix with oil. :D

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Thanks for the advice, Matt. I suppose I overreacted a little when I saw the damage that had ensued. I don't know if you were following my first build, the Explorer, when I did the paintjob, but that was just walking on hot coals over and over again. I didn't want to repeat the process, which is basically why I've vowed off spray finishes.

I did use the steel wool between coats 2 and 3, but I never dipped it in naptha. What would the benefit be?

And I sanded with water only, seeing as I only had one can of oil, and I don't feel like buying any more cans. Would you definitely recommend sanding with oil lubricant? And is 400 too harsh? The body is sanded up to 320, I felt it only natural to start where I left off, when finishing. I have plenty of micromesh that I never used from the first build. I'll dip into that in later stages.

Once again, you calmed me down a lot, thanks.

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400 is a little aggressive for leveling with just a couple coats applied, it takes quite a few coats to build body.

I only use 400 for the initial grain fill stage, (when grain filling with Tru Oil), and use 1000 for any leveling, when the oil is fresh, it cuts fast.

The good news that you are finding out is that its super easy to correct any flaws, mistakes, etc, Tru Oil is very forgiving.

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