Swamp Ash - staining and Tru oil/wax finishing

SquareWavv

New member
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16
I just received my first Warmoth -P-bass body, it’s swamp ash and my plan is to stain it dark.

Now my priority is durable finish, I honestly don’t mind what happens to the color or grain as I’m staining it a very dark brown. That being said I’m a total newbie to this and I’m in the weeds. Is grain filler a necessity? I don’t really want a shiny finish, but a more natural one, I just want it to be as durable as possible, don’t mind dings, this is being built for my first tour use.

I have a bottle of tru oil as well as finishing wax.
 

stratamania

Senior member
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9,217
Welcome to the forum...

Could you define a little more by what you mean by durable and what the expectations of a durable finish are?

It may be depending on this that Tru-Oil may not be the best option for you. That said swamp ash is a very open pored wood and if doing Tru-Oil I would first use Birchwood Casey's Sealer and Filler product even if not using a traditional grain filler.
 

SquareWavv

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Thanks!

I’m not really worried about getting dings and such, more so anything catastrophic.. That being said now I’m not sure any finish would protect an otherwise catastrophic event.

So I guess what would require less maintenance over time.
 

stratamania

Senior member
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9,217
The least maintenance over time is likely to be a catalysed poly, which is not so common as a DIY option. Of course it will not wear like a nitro but will still chip in some situations.

With Tru-Oil it is relatively easy to maintain if you decide to go that way. Though it can take time to fully dry and is best applied in thin coats.

 

SquareWavv

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Whatever would be best as a DIY option I should say. I definitely I rely don’t mind wear over time, nor dings and scratches, in fact I prefer them.

So that’s a no on wax, yes on true oil? I only have a 3oz bottle of Tru-Oil, should I get a larger bottle?
 

stratamania

Senior member
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9,217
I don't think you need a larger bottle of Tru-Oil but you do need the Birchwood Casey Sealer and Filler product to start with prior to starting Tru-Oil. Tru-Oil needs to be applied in thin coats and takes time to properly dry. How much time do you have?

I don't know what type of wax you have, Birchwood Casey make a Gunstock wax which will work after Tru-Oil.  Also Warwick Surface finisher would be an option.
 

SquareWavv

New member
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16
I’ve got a few weeks. So if I understand correctly, it’s:

1. Grain filler
2. Stain
3. Birch wood Casey sealer and filler
4. Tru oil?

Or should I just grain fill, stain, and wax?

I’d like to be done January, ideally.
 

stratamania

Senior member
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9,217
SquareWavv said:
I’ve got a few weeks. So if I understand correctly, it’s:

1. Grain filler
2. Stain
3. Birch wood Casey sealer and filler
4. Tru oil?

Or should I just grain fill, stain, and wax?

I’d like to be done January, ideally.

No, you mentioned you did not want to use grain filler product as such so here are the steps.

1. Stain *
2. Birchwood Casey sealer and filler
3. Tru oil
4. Stock Sheen & Conditioner or Gunstock Wax

* You have not mentioned which stain or dye you have. To avoid any compatibility issues use a water soluble stain such as Birchwood Casey Walnut or Rusty Walnut stain.

https://www.birchwoodcasey.com/gun-refinishing-guide/

You are also a bit tight on time, so you need to make sure that with Tru-Oil you use thin coats and a warmer environment.
 

SquareWavv

New member
Messages
16
I actually picked up some grain filler based on your recommendation, I got some Aquacoat clear grain filler. Just want to do this right. Thanks a lot for your help thus far.
 

stratamania

Senior member
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9,217
Ah okay...

1. Stain *
2. Aquacoat grain filler
3. Birchwood Casey sealer and filler (to provide a base for the tru-oil)
4. Tru oil
5. Stock Sheen & Conditioner or Gunstock Wax

That should do it. Of course remember after grain filling to sand smooth etc.
 

stratamania

Senior member
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9,217
SquareWavv said:
Awesome! Just a quick aside.. would the wipe on poly be an easier option then the tru-oil?

It will be more durable overall and dry quicker so may be a better option for you.

However whatever finish you use getting a good finish does require work and time.

1. Stain *
2. Aquacoat grain filler
3. Wipe on poly  (repeat coats to taste)
 

SquareWavv

New member
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16
Just grabbed some satin wipe on poly, steel wool and a bunch more rags. Gotta figure out where I can secure the thing while it cures as well. Gonna grain fill tonight!

Stain came out a little splotchy but I’m still happy with how it turned out!
 

stratamania

Senior member
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9,217
What is the steel wool for?

There are generally better products than steel wool for working on guitars. Can you tell I am not keen on steel wool?
 

stratamania

Senior member
Messages
9,217
A good quality abrasive wet and dry paper I would say of an appropriate grit such as 400 or 600. In between coats you would generally only need to use it dry. You should only need it to smooth off the odd dust particle if you have applied it well and not too thick to begin with.
 

SquareWavv

New member
Messages
16
Slapped a coat of sanding sealer on but then over sanded and took some stain away, so did some stain touch up and will go straight to grain filling today, maybe wipe on one more coat of sealer.
 

DuckBaloo

Senior member
Messages
282
SquareWavv said:
What is better to use between costs of wipe-on poly?

Sandpaper. Minwax says "lightly sand with 220" between coats. Guitars have more curves and edges, so I wouldn't go rougher than 320. You should be applying thin coats and wiping off excess so not much sanding should be needed.

Steel wool can discolor finishes, leaving gray stains (or brown if already rusty), it can also shed particles into the finish which can get stuck there and eventually rust.
 

alexreinhold

Senior member
Messages
473
stratamania said:
but you do need the Birchwood Casey Sealer and Filler product to start with prior to starting Tru-Oil.

@Stratamania I actually wanted to start a new thread but then I saw you guys were talking about this. I am currently doing a little Swamp Ash project where I (successfully - loads of testing) do this sequence for a dog hair:

- Indian Ink
- Chestnut wood sealer
- alcohol-based lacquer
...at this stage it looks good and should be finished with Tru-Oil. Given that I have used the Chestnut sealer between the color coats, would I still need the BC sealer & filler before the Tru-Oil when working with swamp ash? The reasons I ask is that it somehow creates a weird swirl when applied (could be a chemical reaction) - the Tru-Oil doesn't.
 

stratamania

Senior member
Messages
9,217
alexreinhold said:
stratamania said:
but you do need the Birchwood Casey Sealer and Filler product to start with prior to starting Tru-Oil.

@Stratamania I actually wanted to start a new thread but then I saw you guys were talking about this. I am currently doing a little Swamp Ash project where I (successfully - loads of testing) do this sequence for a dog hair:

- Indian Ink
- Chestnut wood sealer
- alcohol-based lacquer
...at this stage it looks good and should be finished with Tru-Oil. Given that I have used the Chestnut sealer between the color coats, would I still need the BC sealer & filler before the Tru-Oil when working with swamp ash? The reasons I ask is that it somehow creates a weird swirl when applied (could be a chemical reaction) - the Tru-Oil doesn't.

From the sounds of it and the list of products you more than likely do have an incompatibility. But no you don't have to use BC sealer & filler prior to Tru-oil especially if it is incompatible with other products you have already used.

In general though it is worth thinking about what products collectively will be used to avoid compatibility clashes. 
 
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