Wenge finishing tips suggestions?

jkellington

Active member
Messages
47
Hi all,

I will be commencing work on wenge/wenge VIP body with a wenge/macebony neck, and I'm curious to know your opinions on finishing.  I'm looking for the raw look and feel, bu I also want to make sure this instrument will last.

First of all, right now I'm leaning towards just an oil rub, I've just seen a Tung oil application on Marko's thinline tele (http://www.unofficialwarmoth.com/index.php?topic=7632.0)  and I really like effect.  Not sure if it will be as drastic with wenge, but I'm willing to try.

Secondly, I've been pondering doing a tobacco-burst (I realize that with wenge it will be a dark, subtle burst), but with a rub on dye rather than a paint gun, which is what I assume is usually used.  The first reason I'm thinking dye is that I can change the color/hue of the wood, but still maintain the appearance of the wood grain throught the guitar.  The second reason is that I'm assuming with the right dye, I would be able to use an oil rub over top of it for my final finsh rather than clearcoating/laquering it as I would have to with paint.

Third, should I or do I need to do any grain filling on the wenge?  Obviously, it's a very open pore and I'm wondering if not filling it is going to lead to finish or humidity/grime issues down the road.

So....what are your thoughts on this.  Am I way out to lunch on any of these?  I'm looking forward to your suggestions.

Thanks,
Jason
 

tfarny

Senior member
Messages
4,481
Disclaimer: I've never tried to stain or finish wenge, I just have a wenge neck on my bass.

Woah there big fella. All-wenge body? Tobacco sunburst?  :icon_scratch:
Wenge is a lot like an open-pored Ebony with cool brown grain lines, it's really nothing like Marko's padouk body. It is heavy and as hard as petrified shite and I'm sure it does not need a finish to protect it. I would be amazed if it took any kind of a stain, though I think you might screw it up by trying. I would be even more amazed if you can achieve a sunburst effect on it by hand rubbing! PLEASE post pics if you do. The most you'd want to do with that is some kind of wipe-on oil or poly stain. I highly recommend you test whatever you use, to see if it sticks,  on the neck pocket and under the neck plate where mistakes will not be seen. Looking forward to many pictures of an all-wenge VIP. Hope you picked a hollow one!
 

m4rk0

Senior member
Messages
5,383
its rosewood, not padouk :)

I would really rub one or 2 coats of 100% pure tung oil. that way, you will still keep the pores and the raw feel, but the wood and grain would be looking more 'alive' ... if that makes sense
 

jkellington

Active member
Messages
47
tfarny:  I realize that tobacco burst may not be exactly what I'm looking at doing, but basically I'd like the front lighter (in color) than the back and a gradual transition between the tow happening on the top of the guitar close to the edges.  Clearly, with a wood as dark as wenge, the back is going to be very dark, almost black. 

Here's what I'm thinking with the dye: find a color/dilution strength that I like for the back, neck and headstock.  Apply this color to back and sides.  On the top, start with the same dye mixture as used onthe back and sides, rubbing in towards the center of the guitar only a very short distance (I'm talking millimeters here).  Dilute the dye more to get a slightly lighter mix and repeat steps until I'm about 2" 2.5" in from the edge and my dye mixture is almost transparent.  I would expect to do this rub a little and dilute step about 10-15 times at least to get a very uniform, gradual burst.

The reason I think this will work well is the fact that wenge IS a very hard wood and won't just sop up the dye, so I should be able to operate with some measure of precision

What I'm wondering is, if I finish it off with Tung oil, do I need to be careful what kind of dye I use to ensure that the tung oil will go on properly.  Or, can I simply add dye to the tung oil to start with and continue to dilute the mixture with tung oil and do a one-step process?  I talked to warmoth about sending a scrap or two along with the body for testing, but Iguess they mulch everything.  Looks like my neck pocket and cavity routes are going to be some big time test zones!

Also, regarding the weight, I didn't order it hollow, but I'm doing some exentsive cavity routing for Variax components, so that will lighten the weight considerably.

Thanks for the feedback so far and keep it coming!
 

jkellington

Active member
Messages
47
Anyone else with opinions/ideas on this? 

Tung oil mixed with a Stewmac ColorTone liquid stain?

I have the neck in hand and the body shouldn't be far behind, so I'm ready to test as soon as I get the stain/oil.

Also, I'm assuming that when appying tung oil, I should be thinning it with something for the first coat or two (I'll be applying thinly) to give it a better hange to penetrate the wenge?  What have folks here used for a dilutant and in what type of ratio?  Also, I'm assuming that I should be using pure tung oil rather than a polymerized version?

Thanks for the help,
Jason
 

tfarny

Senior member
Messages
4,481
I still can't believe you are thinking about finishing this - of any wood I've seen, wenge would be the very last to get a finish of any type. I don't think anyone on this forum in the last couple of years has put a finish on wenge either.
 

Orpheo

Senior member
Messages
2,738
finishing wenge is a living hell. Maybe an oil finish with bees wax will work, but anything else than that, wont work.
 

rockskate4x

Senior member
Messages
1,601
It's not worth the trouble... and nothings better than naked wood anyway... so do your left hand a favor and don't
 

Mor Paul

Senior member
Messages
7,238
Tempest said:
Really, why would you finish it?  Just say no to finishes and leave it raw! 
Yes, remember kids,
JUST SAY "NO."

now we know!
AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE.
 

jkellington

Active member
Messages
47
OK, so raw is certainly the popular opinion, but can we define raw?  Are we talking taking the neck & body from the box, assembling, stringing up and going?  Nothing else on the body?  I was just assuming that an open grained wood like that would need, at the very least, something to keep moisture out of the wood and provide some type of protection/seal/conditioning? 

For example, many will use orange/lemon/linseed oil to condition a rosewood/ebony fretboard.  Not so here?  If some of you finishing gurus want to provide me with some clarity, I'm more than happy to hear it.

I guess waht it boils down to is that year round tempurature in my part of the country varies from -40F int the winter to 80F in the summer and I'm not competely comfortable just leaving $1000 worth of wood native to a very different climate naked and on its own.

Thanks,
Jason
 

rockskate4x

Senior member
Messages
1,601
If it NEEDS a finish, than obviously you should get it finished, but look at the exotic necks on the showcase. The descriptions for many of them will say NO FINISHED REQUIRED. Wenge necks included. Just don't do it if u don't have to. I'll say it again, your left hand will thank you.
 

tfarny

Senior member
Messages
4,481
1. you leave your guitar outside all winter? Or you live in an igloo?  :help: :help:
2. The reason that some of these woods don't need a finish is because they are extremely dense and hard and filled with natural oils - so oily that they won't allow most finishes to stick to them. Your basic strat with a rosewood fretboard doesn't have any finish on the rosewood, and it does fine, doesn't it?
 

jkellington

Active member
Messages
47
I only live in the igloo in the winters (80F makes an igloo rather unliveable).  We live in portable huts in the summer so we can follow the caribou herds over the tundra.  Kidding, of course.  I get your point, the wood is oily enough on it's own.  But...what if I want that "wet look".  Any suggestions?
 

jkellington

Active member
Messages
47
I've seen a tone of necks, but I'm wondering more about the body and what it'll look like.  I guess I'll just have to wait and see.  Thanks for the input everybody.
 

jkellington

Active member
Messages
47
Well, I finally have pics to add to this conversation.

http://www.unofficialwarmoth.com/index.php?topic=7493.15

As I say inthe post referenced, it looks too dry and unfinished to me.  What is going to be the best way to get a wetter and more defined grain but still retain the raw feel?

I'm assuming I should be doing some finishing sanding on this as well, what are your recommendations?

Thanks!
 
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