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Message started by achock on Aug 1st, 2002 at 3:45pm

Title: Not finished without the finish
Post by achock on Aug 1st, 2002 at 3:45pm
Just wanted to thank everyone who stopped by to show me different finishing styles.  Norman, Wane, and Vince all had new ideas for achieving the finishing touches.  

    Was very impressed with the finish you can get with simple true oil.  Depending on how long you want to sand/rub in oil.  A completely pore-free mirror finish is possible.  

    The lacquer goes on quick and forms a solid protective layer that can be buffed to a completely pore-free mirror finish, but I had problems with getting little dust particles stuck under the lacquer.  Also the setup/clean up isn't very pleasant.  

    Somewhere in-between is the French Polishing method.  The shellac leaves an amazingly smooth finish that is re-workable.  The setup is more involved than oil, but it seems to build much faster.

    Anyhow, all methods can give you an excellent finish.  Will have to post more after trying them all.


Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by ukeman on Aug 7th, 2002 at 3:44pm
aloha....now that asa is full on into finishing his uke series...get to see how his work is progressing..Thanks to the internet and grasshopper Vince Yagi...hanalima is now futting around with french polish via 2# cut of blonde shellac flakes..dissolved in denatured alcohol. Got all the paraphanelia and asa has actually applied a few coats..so the process has started...he will update his progress.   Meanwhile yours trully has started another series and am anxious to box up and also get my french feet wet....love the building...hate the finish...but  will endure the french polishing curve and see if i can pull off a decent finish when the time comes.So for now the lacquer will remain stores...tho   at the ready in case shit happens....as it invariably does....later     ukeman

ps   anyone out there who is into french polishing...please post your experiences.

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by ukeman on Nov 20th, 2002 at 10:23am
aloha all.....some interesting tips fresh from last weeks ukulele exhibition...here's the first:   got finish scratch problems? Howard Tanaka did and with the help of gUild members and Andy Berard from the big island...Howard armed with a willingness to listen and micro mesh sand papers, was able to sand away his scratches to a mirror finish...so no doubt he is a believer in micro mesh sanding papers!

Want an alternate finish?  Wayne Nakashima  showed all who attended that a Tru Oil finish can be as deep and glossy as a French Polish..His uke was closely inspected by John Kitakis who liked the Tru Oil finish as a nice finish for both durability, cost and a non caustic application.....mayhaps in the future we will have a Tru Oil Seminar via bruddah Wayne.....later   ukeman

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by ukeman on Jan 7th, 2003 at 12:20pm
aloha....asa and I have been finishing the last series of Asa's inlay series of Tenor Ukes. We have been shooting nitrocellulose lacguer. Here's the procedure:

sand uke to 340...tack rag
shoot wash coat  80 to 90 percent thinner  10 to 20 percent lacquer.....sets color
three coats of vinyl sealer
wood sealer...rub on and off
sand to almost bare.
wash coat  once more
3 coats 100 percent McFadden lacquer might thin a bit  with thinner.
light sand with 400....let lacquer gas off
drop fill where ever can find lows and gaps
sand with 400 to 600 wet/dry
wash coat
three more coats 100 percent lacquer , 1 hr apart
gas off with 600
final level with 600 to 800
last 50/50 coat

wait a week    polishing process....hello 3m polishing papers or micro mesh

wen pau will try to post some pictures....later  ukeman

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by ukeman on Jan 7th, 2003 at 12:21pm
oops guys...wen i say dry    it means 24 hours..ok  later   ukeman

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by ukeman on Mar 5th, 2003 at 9:40am
A quick Hana Lima 'Ia flash:   A Tru-Oil comment. Our recently completed class featured two new makers that did a super job on their respective Tru-Oil finishes. Both sanded the ukes to a high finish  600-grit before any oil applications. Both oiled no more than 2 coats a day and for the first eight coats...no sanding or leveling in between coats....rub on...rub  off. Bruce applied more coats using the Tru-Oil as a lubricant on fine grit sanding papers and level each successive coat lightly. The finishes of these ukes are way cool.

Congradulations Bob Ishimoto and Bruce Ekimura.

laters ukeman

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by koloheukulele on Apr 1st, 2003 at 1:57pm
Yo ukeman been fishing plany lately, but shaping is always on my mind.  Just wanted to say that been using fish oil as substitute for tru oil.  Results promising.  Mean shine, 8)!  Even been using fish scales as picks.  Although gotta catch one pretty big one to get a scale big enough to hold.
Shoots, Koloheboy  ;D

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by ukeman on Jun 3rd, 2003 at 4:58pm
aloha Matt...this is for you..hope you find this message...checked out the ukes you posted on the custom uke page and noticed the finished stated was a polymerized tung oil! Care to elaborate on the method and materials for the finish? My seems like a great process with 3 coats and youre pau! How about posting the method?   take care  ukeman

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by oglavyandtuglavy on Aug 16th, 2003 at 5:12am
I know that a high gloss finish is common and is usually very beautiful, but personally I tend to prefer a low luster finish, almost to the point of where the wood actually looks bare.  

Many guitar manufacturers finish their necks with tung oil, and since I like the way this finish looks and feels, is it an option to finish an entire uke with tung oil?  Would it be sufficient to protect the wood?  Or is it just a matter of preference?  A few of you mention Tru Oil-is this anything like tung oil?

Thanks so much,

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by David on Oct 2nd, 2003 at 4:49pm
any suggestions for tru oil that has not dried in a couple of days?  I did the rub on rub off but I guess I missed a couple of spots and the oil  is kind of thick in a couple of areas. what can I do to dry it up or take it off.

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by achock on Oct 3rd, 2003 at 6:08pm
Hey David,
Wow it's been soo humid lately yeah?  It's raining here in dry dry kalihi right now in fact.  Hopefully thats the problem and it will clear up soon.  

Rather that than hitting it up with some Naptha or even worse, sanding it!

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by David on Oct 4th, 2003 at 9:14am
    I'll be pacient and wait a while, hopefully it will dry
                   ok thanks

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by dkchock on Apr 3rd, 2007 at 6:22pm
I just recently sprayed with deft clear gloss, three coats, it seems to be kind of gritty? would micromesh help to smooth and bring more of a shine ?

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by Treetop on Apr 7th, 2007 at 1:26am
I have a lot of experience with oil finishing, on furniture.

The Tru-Oil is a linseed based oil finish.  It has driers, without which it would take forever to dry.  Linseed oil is flax oil.  It is used in oil based paints, both the artist's type and the house painting types.

I read where a lot of folks use up to 600 grit and finer sandpaper, which is unnecessary, even detrimental,  in my opinion.  The oil, especially the first coat, needs to penetrate the surface of the wood.  Sanding it too fine will prevent this.  I never go past 220, using 3M tri-m-ite sandpaper, however, some sandpapers that are called 220 aren't going to be as fine as the 3M, so you have to sort of use some judgment on this.

First of all, except with an orbital or random orbit sander, using 120 grit or finer paper, never sand against the grain.  Oil will show scratches like crazy.  If you did sand against the grain, wet the entire surface with a damp cloth, rubbing on the sanding marks, this will raise the grain, clean the dust out of the scratches and make it easier to sand it smooth.

After I finish sanding, I used compressed air to blow dust out of the pores.  I put the first coat on and try to do it when the weather is nice, never during a rainy period, this won't kill it, but the finish will blush and won't dry, by blushing, I mean it turns flat colored rather than shiny,even when it is still wet.

After about 10 to 15 minutes wipe the surfaces dry, I usually use some cotton rags, then use a paper towel on any places like corners where the oil can accumulate, anything not wiped dry will stay sticky.

A rule of thumb is about eight hours between coats, but make sure the surface is relatively dry, sometimes it takes longer and depends on your location.  I apply the successive coats (and the first one) with a piece of old towel and rub it into the wood.  Then before wiping it dry after a couple coats I use 0000 steel wool, and this is where the smoothness comes in.

Some woods love oil, some don't.  Softwoods such as spruce, tend to not like it, I would use shellac on these soundboards.  Mahogany, cherry, really respond well, oak, is a pain, even though it looks great, it weeps oil out of the pores and you have to wipe it a lot, unless you fill the pores, which is what you want to do if you want a slick surface, also with walnut, it works much better with the pores filled.  

I don't like the look of oil on Maple either, I like to use a rub on polyurethane ((Minwax makes one) on maple, the oil makes it darker, and the maple is so closed pored it doesn't build well at all on it.  You just have to be more careful about dust, but generally the rub on polys are pretty easy and look good, you have to build them up, in fact you can make your own by thinning regular poly with mineral spirits, and this allows the poly to penetrate the wood and to build up slowly, some of the nicest finishes I have seen have been with polyurethane, like on sculpture and other carvings, sometimes using twenty coats built up and rubbed, very thin coats.

The more coats, the smoother the finish, but they must be thin coats and wiped dry every time.

After I am satisfied with the oil, I use a paste wax made for wood, there are several out there, the most common being Johnson's wax, I think it works as well as most any of them, again, apply it very thinly, I use 0000 steel wool both to apply and to remove it.  Usually two or three wax coats will be plenty.

Another caveat is not to use oil anywhere where it will be closed up, like the inside of a drawer, as it tends to remain not totally dry, even can become rancid and smell a bit.  Of course you can use oil as a base for other finishes, as long as you let it dry really well first.

As far as rescuing something that is sticky from too much oil, first I would try liberally recoating it with the same oil, and wait about 15 minutes and wipe it dry again.  You might have to do this several times to get it to soften the sticky oil.

If that didn't work, I would likely try the mineral spirits or naptha.

A word of caution, any rags or paper towels that are saturated with oil need to be laid flat or submerged in water because they can create heat if wadded up and start a fire.  I usually hang them on a chain link fence, or lay them out flat on some concrete until they dry.

I used to apply oil with my bare hands, but after several years read the dryers are toxic and I now use the disposable nitrile gloves.

Tung oil is similar to linseed oil, maybe a little clearer (less yellow).  You don't want pure tung oil you want tung oil finish.  You can use pure tung oil, however you get into the drying taking way too long, most pure tung oil is bought in order to add it to something else or blend your own finish.

And a side note, most vegetable oils go rancid.  You can use Walnut oil or Safflower oil as a finish.  I wouldn't use it on a uke, but for the cutting board, this is the trick, as washing them over time dries them out, causing them to crack, a bit of oil every so often will extend their life.

LMI has rather long tutorial on Tru-Oil application, as I have never used Tru-oil, you can judge for yourself:


Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by dkchock on Aug 21st, 2007 at 6:29pm
I am using truoil on ebony wood and there seems to be streaks where the oil did not cover. so, I waited for the oil to dry and put another coat on, and the same thing happened> I did this for 3 coats, same thing. Any suggestions?

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by Murray on Feb 14th, 2008 at 7:41pm

I have a question that I haven't been able to find the answer to:  I'm making a uke with Brazillian Rosewood back and sides and a Spruce soundboard.  I've done my final sanding but the top is still dirty.  What do I use to clean it before I apply the finish?  Sanding hasn't done the job.

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by Don_Orgeman on Feb 16th, 2008 at 6:19am

You may have to switch to light scraping on the top to remove the "dirt".  I suspect you have transfer of the rosewood into the pores of the top due to sanding dust and oils from the rosewood.

After you get the top clean, you may want to seal it with a wash coat of shelac before finishing.  Keep the finishing of the sides/back seperate from the top finishing so the rosewood color doesn't bleed into the top for the first several finish coats.  If you are going to use Tru-Oil, use seperate rags for the top.

Dark banding such as ebony also helps to keep the rosewood color away from bleeding into the top if that is an option at this point.

There are several good guitar books that talk about rosewood and spruce finishing problems that you may want to look at before you start finishing.  Some recommend washing the rosewood surface with acetone before finishing.  Check your public library before buying if you don't want to add to your own reference library.  If you can find Arthur Overholtzer's book Classic Guitar Making in the library, it's great (don't try to buy it unless you've got a lot of extra cash)!

Sound like you're going to have one great uke when you're done.  Post some picture of the completed uke.


Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by Murray on Feb 16th, 2008 at 7:25am

Thanks for the tip Don.  I'll try scrapping it today.  I'm going to use Tru-Oil for the finish.  would it still be a good idea to seal it with a wash coat of shellac?  I'm also going to bind it with Koa.  


Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by Don_Orgeman on Feb 16th, 2008 at 7:47am

I have not tried sealing with shelac before Tru-Oil so others should probably weigh in on this one -- how about your words of wisdom Ukeman?

From the comments I have seen on OLF (www.luthiersforum.com) it looks like shelac sealing works with Tru-Oil, but who knows.  Try brousing their site.  You will find more builders using rosewood there.  To get the most out of this site, you'll have to join (no biggie).


Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by renegadeamps on Feb 22nd, 2008 at 5:48am
Shellac works pretty much under everything. Including Tru-Oil

Title: Re: Not finished without the finish
Post by TwoTokens on Feb 25th, 2008 at 10:38am
I am a relative newcomer who has done just a few instruments.  I have tried Tru oil on two, French polish on three and water born poly with a Z-poxy base on two.

For me, there is no question that the water born poly (KTM-9 from Luthier Merchantile International) is WAY easier than french polish and looks better than Tru-oil.

I use the Z-poxy as a pore filler and sanding sealer (usually three coats spread really thin with a piece of plastic), followed by three coats per day for two days of the KTM.

Wet sand with 400, 600, 1500, 2000, then rotten stone, then McGuiar's 17, then McGuiar's 10 then wax...

Sounds like a lot of work, but compared with FP it s not so bad, looks fantastic (IF you like glossy finish) and DOESN"T STINK.  Very durable finish as well.

PS I just finished finishing a tenor eight string.  How do you tune that high "C" string??  Dude keeps breaking for me...

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