Wenge/Ash Body Finishing Plan -- Will This Work?


Wenge/Ash Body Finishing Plan -- Will This Work?

been visiting a lot of threads on guitar and  woodworking forums,  and i think i have a strategy  for dealing with the top on this new body i had made, about 50/50 ash back, bookmatched wenge top.

I plan to use the oil finish/wet sand/slurry technique... I look forward to thoughts/suggestions/improvements for this plan:

Dry sand to  320 or 400 ( its currently sanded to 220), wipe down with naptha, then begin the wet sanding process. i have Watco Danish Oil  natural, and the same in their dark walnut for the ash back, so its a little more inline with the wenge top --- doesnt have to be a perfect match, but  i dont want that white ash.

I will probably take this through several stages,  up to 1500 or 2000 grit.

not sure if the oil slurry technique is even necessary for the wenge; A lot of people advise  not to finish the wenge at all, in which case ill just sand to a desired level with may be a light coat of  the watco oil at the end  to condition the wood.

The ash back, and the difference between the back and the top, is a little more problematic:


I'm not sure if the dark walnut will be enough of a match for the ash back;  the black walnut version looked better on their sample, but they were out. I 'm thinking  to stain or dye the ash  before the black walnut, something reddish maybe, before using the oil. Ideally, it would be better to get the color all in the dye, so i could finish the body as a whole.   With the two different tinted oils, i'm looking at doing  each half separately, effectively doubling the total curing time if you consider flipping it  to do the other side.

also, some practical question for first time finishers; i really dont have a wood shop, this will have to be done inside the home or outdoors (not my preference, as its pretty windy here). What is the best way to store a body between coats? suspend it by the neck holes? leave it flat, resting on the unfinished ( or later , reasonably cured ) side?

any other tips, tricks, modifications?

thanks all!
you've done well to itemize a theoretical process, but haven't said what you're intent for the final result is

sort of like saying I have a great plan for a trip - to gas up the car and drive down several back roads eventually getting on the freeway and doing 65mph....all well and good... but where do you want to end up?
Hi cB, thanks for looking at this, and thanks for  the perspective :)

i just want  to get somewhere that will look decent that I won't screw up, given my non-finishing experience!  seriously, i do need an approach that is attainable at my skill level.  i think a nice high satin end result would be ideal, but  how to get that cleanly on both halfs will be a challenge..

what are your thoughts?

im not too particular on the final clor of  the ash; just something that will harmonize well with  the shades and hues  in the wenge. Im not looking to  perfectly match the wenge , neccessarily, as  i think trying to match it precisely but ending up "off" by a bit  might clash more  overall,  than simply finding a good shade that works. My main objective with the ash is to get rid of all that white so it doesnt look so 'oreo cookie'  against  the wenge.

that 's a wide berth, i know....if i had to dial it in further i'd tend towards the redder spectrum --- mahogany to rosewood -- but im not married to that. I think that spectrum would match  some of the wenge tones, though.
i actually like that look. It made think i'd love a body made of rosewood/maple/rosewood so the side would look like a sandwich cookie. heh. but to each his own.
hmm...  so folks are liking the contrast? maybe i shouldnt worry about it so much and 'lighten up' about it, lol. I'm still curious as to coloring options and strategies, but maybe  i wont rule out the natural approach either...all options are possible at this stage
yeah man. i think it's really a beautiful look. what kind of neck you puttin on there? you could do a wenge neck with a maple fingerboard for the reverse look. haha. though i've never seen a maple board on a non-maple neck.
I'm definitely in favor of high-contrast between the wenge and the ash - looks swanky.
dNA said:
yeah man. i think it's really a beautiful look. what kind of neck you puttin on there? you could do a wenge neck with a maple fingerboard for the reverse look. haha. though i've never seen a maple board on a non-maple neck.

I can help with that: SMGs (the competition)


I agree with bagman about the contrast - I wouldn't touch it. *Me* if *I* was doing it and I'm not saying *You* should do it that way, but it's just something to consider: I'd fill front and back with some jet black filler, ambered or not (could be nice), sand smooth as a baby's bottom, finish with some stemac spray can and elbowgrease galore or maybe some truoil. Buff it until you actually hear: "DING!" when the reflection of the light hits it. IMHO.

Like this:


and like this:


IMHO, disagree with dNA RE the neck - I think that route only leads to regret. I'm not into "concept" guitars. Personally.

I'd probably stick with sthing that doesn't compete with that awesome top, and that is unfinished (contrast with that great gloss on the body): 1piece goncalo? all bubinga? can't say an all purpleheart would be ugly either. Wenge back with JB ebony would be ok too...

I'm excited to see what you'll decide!

Good luck, and happy deciding!
mgaut051 said:
and like this:

guitars like that, or more specifically photos of guitars like that, are the very reason i hate glossy finishes.

as for the neck thing, yeah i was just kiddin anyway. i don't like people doing things for the sake of doing something weird. it'd just look cool from a profile view. I agree that probably something plain for the neck would be great. wenge/ebony sounds like a good deal to me
Yep - just goes to prove, one man's treasure is another's trash!

Anyways, don't particularly like that bass, but I do think the finish is nice.

I think it's going to be a little hard to get a continuous finish over the front and back and not have it look goofy, and I was throwing out some ideas...

With that body as a starting point, it's going to be difficult to mess it up, I think it's going to be nice no matter what!
ok, guys, thanks for the feedback! you're almost talking me into it :)

neck is  wenge with a fretless ebony board  (though the person who did it did a bad fret fill job, so i may redye the board)....

the  wenge/maple board idea is an interesting  combo in and of itself, tho, soundwise, concept guitar or not. im planning a similar  guitar down the road and may use that combo.

so, if I'm using the  oil/slurry technique, i'll still probably need to mask this off and approach the halves separately? i imagine the possible dust and/or slurry bleed  from the wenge would be hard to control, unless i just went with the dry sanding idea all the way and a final oil...
lots of ways... amber dye... or an amber finish...

you want satin... maybe dark tung oil
cool, ill keep researching and testing. .. any thoughts on just sanding the top to high grit (#2000) and topping with oil, or should i slurry at #320?