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Finishing a neck with oil (tung etc)


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pretty labour intensive way of finishing a neck- use a lot of coats rubbed in multiple times - the surface of the wood should be sanded till it shines before oil goes on - danish oils is good and a lot quicker as it has driers in it. you can make it up yourself easily and there is recipes all over the web. also look at wiping varnish as a an even easier solution

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As suggested above, I'd go Danish oil over Tung.


Danish oil is basically Tung + Linseed + varnish, but different brands will have a different combo. I'd suggest just buying an off the shelf premixed Danish oil (thats what I do) - make sure its mixed well and simply wipe it on. Let it cure until you cannot smell it, sand and repeat until you're happy with the finish.

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  • 4 months later...

I'm late to the game on this thread, but I oil finished all of my bolt on necks this year, as well as two guitars my bass player owns.  Totaling 7 guitars. The first three each used a different technique that I found online.  I am by no means an expert, but I do play a lot both at home and live, so I can give my experience from that angle.

Guitar 1: Used 80 grit to get to the wood fast.  100 grit next, then proceeded to walk up the grits to 220.  Each grit was sanded until all scratches from previous grit were gone, cleaned neck off with tack cloth then acetone.  I then applied water to the neck with a damp rag ( idea here is to only use enough water to darken the wood as compared to dry to raise the grain). Sand again with same grit as first pass until it felt smooth.

The oil I used was boiled linseed oil.  Used rag to  hand apply until coat was even.  Allowed to dry 24 hours, Sand with 220,  Repeat the process twice more.

After the final  coat of oil, I allowed the neck to air out for two days then applied a 4:1 mix of raw  beeswax and turpentine. allow to dry (5 minutes or so), then buffed off. 

Final result - Neck is really fast and comfortable.  Feels like the finish of one of the old San Dimas custom Charvels from the mid 80's.  FWIW, The body was done using same technique, but I dyed the linseed oil as I was told the oil will make a stain blotchy.  Also have to wax the neck after every 2-3 weeks of hard usage. Wood darkens a bit from hand oils.


Guitar 2: I used the Tru-Oil method a lot of people use, use the instructions on the bottle .  Application is the same as above, but the finish, ends up like a production "oiled neck".  In other words, it doesn't feel like wood under your hands.  This will get redone after November to same technique I used for the next guitar.

Guitar 3: I experimented here. This time I melted straight beeswax to liquid and applied that to the neck after initial sandings, and before oil application.  After I got the neck covered, I used a heat gun to warm the wax allowing it to penetrate into the wood.  I repeated this application twice which left wax proud of the wood when dry.  I then sanded the neck back down to the wood, then applied matte finish tung oil as above and finalized again with beeswax/turpentine mixture.  This technique is similar to Warwick's method of oil finishing.

Final result.  I have a hard time putting this guitar down.  The feel is similar to guitar 1, but somehow feels slightly refined.  Also the first application of the wax I believe creates an additional barrier to ward against oxidation and sweat discoloration.

The 4 others I refinished, I used the last method, and am happy with the results enough to keep using this method. 

I do not sand further than 220 grit as I like a little tool handle feel to my guitar necks.  The second guitar i  took to 320, but it feels too plasticky with the Tru Oil.


To the OP:  To answer your questions. 

No the oil wont come off on your hands if you wax it afterward.  Even if it did, the amount is very small you wont feel it.

I used two coats of oil on each neck.  I don't like slick painted neck feel on an unfinished neck, but I want to feel the grain a bit.

Dye the oil with an alcohol based dye designed for woodworking.  Apparently stain underneath gets blotchy after applying the oil. I don't know how true this is, but I am not made of money and wanted to not have to redo anything from blotchy stain


Keep in mind Im not an expert and only have done 5 of my own guitars and two of a friends.  He always comments on how he digs the oiled necks I put on his guitars (Or just stroking my ego while secretly hates them, but he plays the hell out of them).  You sounded like where I was last year, so I just wanted to pass along my experiences.



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