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Danish Oil vs. Tung Oil Finish vs. Tru-Oil: A neck finish report

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by dilbone, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. dilbone

    dilbone Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 4, 2008
    Bowling Green, Ohio
    Yes, If you don't wipe off the excess within 10-15minutes you'll have a sticky gummy mess on your hands that will take weeks to dry. That's why it really doesn't build well...probably lack of dryers and varnish in the mix...

    Yes, I forgot to mention that I did that inthe beginning too. Especially for the first several coats. Once it seems like it's not soaking it up as much, then I go to the wipe on wipe off after 10-15minutes process.
    I used it on an old pine fireplace mantel that I made into a body and it soaked it up like a sponge. I literally had to pour it on and smear it around for 10-15minutes at a time a couple times a day for a few days to finally get it to quit drinking it up. The maple neck didn't soak up near as much...

  2. Mojotron

    Mojotron Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 21, 2008
    Thanks for the input on this thread - I'm soaking it up :)

    dilbone - I'm with ya' on not wanting to sand between frets - that's the only thing about guitar making that I don't like, but I end up doing a decent job of it - I just don't like to do it. So, this thread is great as I'm always interested in what others may have learned on this stuff.

    Thanks again guys - when I get to making another round of necks I'll likely use all this info.

  3. dilbone

    dilbone Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 4, 2008
    Bowling Green, Ohio
    I just finished my second neck with tru oil. Hoping to continue the trial and error process I started on the last one.

    I was able to use the t-shirt scrap wet with mineral spirits again with a couple of drops of TO and got great results. The fretboard ended up with a nice semi gloss finish I can still see some grain through. I could have continued to apply coats to the fret board to begin to fill those pores, but 7 or 8 coats looked and felt good to me. I ended up hitting the rest of the neck with synthetic steel wool to smooth it out and applied another couple of coats(could have done this to the FB too but didn't feel the need) This brought the rest of the neck up in luster a bit more and filled in a bit more of the grain. This is a quick no nonsense finish that needs nothing once it dries. I think I could still go either way between the Minwax Tung Oil Finish straight from the can and the Birtchwood-Casey Tru Oil applied with a mineral spirit dampened swatch. They both produce very similar results, no spraying rig to set up and clean and no need to mess with the fretboard.
    For me this is Win-Win.

  4. davmac

    davmac Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 15, 2003
    Wirral, UK
    I like to apply the last few coats this way too. I find the key with Danish oil, for the first 2-3 coats, is to get everything really warm, the oil becomes much less viscous and the wood soaks up more oil. I stand the tin in a tub of hot water for 10 mins before I start (not boiling but too hot to hold your hand in for more than a few secs). Here I'll apply a liberal coat, wait 5 mins, wipe it down, wait 5 mins and reapply. Once those first two or three "deep soak" coats are on and it isn't soak up more oil. I give it 24 hours to dry and then apply very thin coats with the 600 grit wet&dry, but I wipe it down almost immediately. These very thin coats dry very quickly and I apply coats 45-60 mins apart for a couple of days. Leave it a couple of days and then a light buff and polish.

    I've not tried it (yet) but I'd be interested to find out how warming up the oil would work with the tru and tung oil finishes too.

    EDIT: And I forgot to say "thank you" to the OP. Great post. Always useful to hear stories of people's experiments - what worked and, more importantly, what didn't. Much appreciated.

  5. trev333

    trev333 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    +1 davmac...

    that's how I've doing doing necks/ bodies... thick for the first few then a lot of thin coats with a buff in between... it doesn't take long to build up a hard glassy smooth finish with some depth... pops the grain too...

    I use my hands a lot... and often when using turps to clean the oil off when I finish oiling one job.. I go inside to one of the other oiled necks on a strung up guitar..and rub my wet hands on the back of them...
    with a quick polish off in a minute of two...
    really glosses them up over time... builds up a finish..

    laying hands on.. Ommmmm...

  6. dilbone

    dilbone Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 4, 2008
    Bowling Green, Ohio
    you guys have convinced me to give danish oil another go on my next neck...I wasn't able to get it to build substantially(even after 16-18 coats), but knowing what I know now I think I could get a more desireable result. Of course if it doesn't get me where I want I can always switch over to tung or tru

  7. davmac

    davmac Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 15, 2003
    Wirral, UK
    I do particularly like it on mahogany and sapele, but on maple it does tend to leave an element of that raw feel. I think it might be because the maple is a much tighter grained wood with a less porous surface. This is one of my recent builds finished in Danish oil.

    Kriticaster likes this.

  8. dilbone

    dilbone Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 4, 2008
    Bowling Green, Ohio

  9. stratman323

    stratman323 Banned

    Apr 19, 2010
    London, UK
    Very useful & informative thread - thanks. I'm just finishing off the back of a maple Strat neck with Danish Oil, & I think I'll stop at the end of today after 15 coats. It seems to be a huge improvement on both the unfinished neck, & the previous poly finish. I wish I'd tried this decades ago!

  10. TNO

    TNO Friend of Leo's

    Apr 25, 2003
    I really enjoy finishing necks since I discovered fresh mixed garnet shellac sprayed through a preval. I can spray several light coats in the morning, sand and polish out in the afternoon, DONE. Gives a nice vintage look.

  11. czook

    czook Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 5, 2011
    NW MO
    I am using Danish Oil for the body and neck of my build. I wanted something that will soak into the wood and help stabilize it. I see the above picture and post where many coats are applied.

    My question is how do you get a shiny finish? Is that wax or are you just buffing the Danish oil?

  12. hick 67

    hick 67 TDPRI Member

    Nov 15, 2010
    western colorado
    sorry to jump on an old thread with a novice question,

    but reading this post, i was curious why folks are talking about how to get a rub-in oil around frets. Why not put the frets in after rubbing in the oil? I am working on a 3 piece maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard, and i was thinking about finishing the neck with danish oil trying not to get any on the fret board and then just doing some lemon oil on the fretboard after it is fretted.
    Thanks in advance for the information!
    the2connors likes this.

  13. Bentley

    Bentley Friend of Leo's

    Jul 25, 2012
    Kelowna B.C, Canada
    There is also the option of brushing on lacquer. I did my firebird this way, and it builds up pretty fast. The only problem is it is going to require a lot of wetsanding. I'm sure with more practice this could get cut-down though.

  14. Keyser Soze

    Keyser Soze Tele-Holic

    Oct 13, 2009
    Johnson City, TN
    Yep, Minwax will tell you that their product is oil based, but wont tell you what oil(s) that actually means. Bitchwood Casey is no better, but I'd never really noted any calims about tung in their product, and had always thought of it as being linseed and modified linseed.

    Minwax Tung Oil finish is about 2/3rds mineral spirits, and Tru-Oil is about 50% mineral spirits, but that's easily adjusted by the user. The biggest difference between the two is probably the metalized drying agent (cobalt) present in the Minwax product.
    the2connors likes this.

  15. Rudder Bug

    Rudder Bug TDPRI Member

    Jul 11, 2011
    I am so glad my Google search took me here!

    I just hand rubbed the third Watco Danish oil on my Nearcaster and the result is the best I've ever had with any other product or technique in the last two years, no kidding.

    I began with one finger and in no time, I was giving her a heck of a massage with both of my hands.

    I hung her for the night and will apply another thin coat the same way in the morning. Just one drop at a time, rub, caress, massage and see the shine coming in, WOW!

    I can almost assume we should read the instructions just to make sure we don't try anything close to what they recommend.
    the2connors likes this.

  16. djrussell

    djrussell TDPRI Member

    Mar 28, 2013
    I'm actually a fan of Tung Oil. I used it for my first Tele build on both the neck and the body...

    I applied 5 thick coats: 2 coats a day, 6hrs apart with 0000 steel wool in between coats. It's a very smooth finish and not at all glossy. Being pine, its actually held up pretty well considering the oil is little to no help when it comes to finish durability.

    Also, before using it I was completely unaware but if you plan on staining pine and want to avoid the blotchiness; apply 2 coats of Tung oil before. Let it soak in over a day and then apply the stain. It will help avoid 95% of blotchiness that comes with staining pine straight.
    the2connors likes this.

  17. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 15, 2014
    I haven't seen anyone say they tried actual Tung oil. I got my hands on a '68 neck, some knucklehead had sanded it down to bare wood, except for the peghead. It made the fretboard look awful. I got a can of Behlen Tung Oil from Stew-Mac. It says it contains no dryers or thinners. It looks and feels like olive oil. I used the technique of wiping on a nice wet coat, waiting 15 - 30 minutes, then wiping dry, let dry 2 days, repeat 4 or 5 times. It took about two weeks to really dry after the last coat. It came out really nice, shiny, but not catchy to the touch. It seems like it gets even harder over time. The only wrinkle: it is an amber color, but slightly less orange than the peghead nitro. by comparison, it has a slight green hue. Not bad enough to make me unhappy though. My luthier buddy said he uses it all the time; loves it for necks. Rock on.

    Attached Files:

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  18. djrussell

    djrussell TDPRI Member

    Mar 28, 2013
    Some places call Tung oil "China Wood Oil" now (like Feast Watson brand). I like how you achieved a semi gloss finish though, my neck turned out similar but the body didnt. Maybe needed more coats. I know what you mean about the olive oil feel though.
    the2connors likes this.

  19. Captain Nutslot

    Captain Nutslot Friend of Leo's

    May 3, 2012
    Rochester, NY

    resurrection party!

    Marty, got any pics of your work in the 80's??

    thread it up please. :) that would rule

    or, you don't like scanning? lol
    the2connors likes this.

  20. Wayfinder

    Wayfinder Former Member

    Oct 30, 2016
    Hi all. New to the forum. I know this is an older forum, but hey, threads never die.
    In using Tru-Oil something I've discovered and has been verified by pro luthier posts on YouTube: use neo gloves for application rather than fingers. Tru-oil contains chemicals other than natural oil and can cause health problems (dizziness, sparkles in front of eyes, tiredness, etc). When working with potentially toxic chemicals, always best to use chemical-resistant gloves. I use neo gloves regularly and they work as well as bare fingers for applying Tru-Oil. It's also easier to take them off and throw them away than it is to try to clean Tru-Oil off bare fingers. : )
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2016
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