One DYI finish method from a Warmoth Player


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Here's a cool recommendation from a bud of mine and outstanding guitar player:

My Experience With A Warmoth Neck And Tung Oil Finish by Bob Randolph

When I received my first Warmoth neck I knew I wanted to do the finish myself because my budget was tight. Since I doubted I could do a professional grade polyurethane finish in my garage I considered Tung Oil. I have always liked oil finishes and I thought that since Carvin does them they can’t be too unreliable or too troublesome. I read the warnings on the Warmoth flyer which accompanied the neck and knew I would void the warranty on the neck for warping and twisting, but it was a risk I was willing to take. I had a hefty maple/maple Warmoth Pro Construction Strat replacement neck with a Boat back contour.
I used Minwax Tung Oil in the 1 quart can, about $7.00 at the hardware store. I read and followed the directions applying a coat and buffing it about 15 minutes after application. After buffing I let each application cure for two to four days and then scuffed it lightly with 0000 steel wool and did another application. (On the last coat I omitted the steel wool and ended with the buffing.)
I repeated this for about 7 coats. This was probably more than necessary and I could have stopped at 4 coats. By buffing so soon after application this tung oil did not build up much and left a thin finish.
The oil penetrated the wood beautifully. It turned the whiteish maple a beautiful amber color and revealed a little flame figure from deep inside. It filled the grain suitably and has a great semi gloss lustre and is very smooth to the touch. Never does it grab my hand like Nitro or Poly finishes sometimes do nor does it cake up with sweaty grime at a gig. It stands up to cleaning with Windex or 409 cleaner everytime I change strings. It is a very smooth and fast finish that never holds me back.
After about 8 years of playing weekend gigs and rehearsals the finish was begining to wear a little thin especially on the fretboard. So I repeated the finishing process and added 4 more coats. The neck accepted the additional coats with no problems.
The neck has been rock solid now for about 10 years. I never need to adjust it, even for seasonal changes! The boat back contour is massive and stable- perfect for the oil finish.
I can heartily recommend Tung Oil finishes on maple when the neck contour is thick enough and stable. I have had a great experience with it.
Now, I’m thinking my next neck will be solid rosewood and I bet a Tung Oil finish will go great on that!

I've done a couple of guitars with one piece rosewood necks; don't get in a hurry to oil it up unless you play it unoiled for a while, you may find you prefer the feel of raw wood.....
Tung oil, sometimes known as Chinesse oil can make a great finish,but can also make a poly finish neck feel less sticky....only use one or two coats and if you don't like the feel a quick wipe with meths/namptha and your back to basic's.
Tru-oil finishes can be improved for feel on the neck by adding a small quantity of bees wax.
Just a warning...this may sound dumb, but I am a complete newbie, so bear with me!

I too am considering finishing a maple/maple neck from Warmoth myself with Tung-Oil and have a question...

Do I tape up the frets, or just apply the finish over them?

If I do apply over the frets, do I use the steel wool over the frets as well?

Thanks guys!
If you have a maple fretboard there's not really any good way to "tape over" the frets; just apply whatever finish and you can use steel wool or some other abrasive to take the finish back off the frets; even necks finished at Warmoth will have finish on the frets that needs clean up.

Unlike poly/nitro finishes, you should be able to make this process easier if you're using tung oil by simply wiping down the frets with a piece of cloth after each coat, just use your fingertip wrapped in cloth and be careful not to hit the fretborad itself.
i plan on using the maple pro strat neck too, but with the wizard contour. is it too risky to use this finish on that thin a neck? i'm looking for very slick and fast and it seems this might be the way to go, but not if the neck is going to be in jeopardy.
I have a rifle stock finished in true-oil, it's lasted for 18 years through quite a bit of pucker-brush.

My uncle is a gunsmith/riflestock builder, he does a yearly rifle for the N.R.A. as their giveaway, & he did my '98 Mauser in Birdseye Maple with a True-Oil finish.



& here's a rifle blank that I have also.

I hope to one day do a bookmatched top for a body with it.  It sat in my uncle's wood stock for over 25 years, & I snagged it from him in 1996.




Gregg Stewart said:
I used Minwax Tung Oil in the 1 quart can, about $7.00 at the hardware store.

Minwax Tung Oil is an oxymoronic expression.  Minwax Tung Oil is barely tung oil, mostly a synthetic varnish... same as TruOil.

Yeah, I'll harp on about pure tung oil... its worth it, and NOT like anything else you've ever used.  That is - smell the Minwax Tung Oil.  Smell Minwax PolyU.  Smell TruOil.  They smell very similar.  Petrol based products... you can smell it.  You can FEEL it when you apply them.

Smell pure tung oil.  Totally different animal.  Totally.  Its not clear, but cloudy.  It smells like wood/nuts.  Its edible! (well, non toxic at least).  And it feels different as you apply it.  It doesn't get all sticky like yer rubbing in poly (which you are).  It feels soft.  And it feels like powder when it dries.... silky.
CB where exactly do you go to find this pure tung oil? All I've seen for sale is the stuff that seems like its mixed.
Google pure tung oil, but I've got a link in that other thread (someplace here)

Thats an interesting looking stock.  I dont mind TruOil on gunstocks - if you want a semigloss or even full gloss finish.  But gunstocks dont need to feel the same, and get different wear, and have different tolorance than a guitar neck.  Looking in back of me here, there's an 870 done in TruOil.  For that matter, I've used boiled linseed oil, and "LinSpeed" as well.  They're all different.

I found My tung oil at woodcrafters, they are a woodworkers supply place. they have lots of tools , chemicals, and a whole lot of exotic wood.

I just applied the second coat of tung oil, and wow, i thought it looked good after 1 coat, I can see what this is gonna look like when its all done (I think)

Do you use a stain under the Tung Oil to color the wood or does Tung Oil naturally color the wood darker?

Also, how do you achieve a semi-gloss finish with Tung Oil?  Anyone have any pictures of a Tung Oil finished guitar?
you can use water or alcohol based stains under tung oil, let them dry completely before adding the first THINNED coat of tung oil

tung oil will slightly amber the color , usually not enough to matter much with the light tung, dark tung is another story and will darken things considerably  (see the links in above posts...)

tung oil is naturally "satin finish".  you can buff it to a more "semi gloss".  if you want high shine... this is not the right finish to use, it wont get that deep rich mirror polish