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Neck finish

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by bfloyd6969, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. bfloyd6969

    bfloyd6969 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    51
    216
    Oct 2, 2008
    Ohio
    Hello everyone. I am getting ready to buy a TMO-FAT neck and have questions about finishing. From the All Parts site, it reads "sanded, unfinished and ready to spray". First, what will happen if I leave the neck as is and don't add any finish to it and continue to play it like that? Of course I assume it will dirty up from skin oils, but will it harm the neck? Perhaps it would be ok if I just added a sealer to it? I mean, the worn maple neck look is a pretty cool look in my eyes, but if there is potential damage that will be done then of course that is more important to me.

    If a finish is needed, I would probably go for a tung oil type finish, but does the fingerboard get oiled as well? Is there a different approach when finishing the fingerboard seeing how the frets are already installed? Thanks for the help.
     

  2. BarnesTO

    BarnesTO Tele-Afflicted

    May 28, 2006
    Yuma, AZ
    I think it needs some kind of sealer to keep it from warping but there are members here with more experience than I. I have no experience with tung oil but I have finished two maple necks with Reranch nitro and it's pretty easy. two coats of clear to seat it, a few coats of amber to taste, then lock it in with more clear. The finish will come right off the frets with your fingernail....pretty much how Leo did it back in the day, from what I understand....
     

  3. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Major neck manufacturers usually only warranty their necks if they are finished in a hard finish. They claim they have a higher percentage of warped necks returned that are only finished in oil than in something like poly, lacquer, or shellac.

    If you use no sealer/finish, the neck is going to get dirty and ugly real quick. Humidity will probably raise the grain, and effect the frets.

    As for tung oil, their are essentially three main types of tung oil finish.

    100% Tung oil - pure drying oil, its a real oil finish
    Tung oil you buy at Lowes/Homedepot - mix of tung oil, thinner, and varnish.
    Tru Oil - mix of linseed oil, thinner, and polymerized tung oil. This a varnish, and creates a hard finish.
     

  4. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Back in the early days of fender, I think most necks only got a few coats of lacquer, and some only 1 coat. I think they actually left the finish on the frets, and it wore off from string contact.
     

  5. bfloyd6969

    bfloyd6969 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    51
    216
    Oct 2, 2008
    Ohio
    Thanks for the replies. So would the Tru Oil be the more recommended finish for durability and longevity over the other Oils?
     

  6. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Yes, Tru Oil was designed a firearm stock finish. Those guys are not into relics or accelerated aging.
     

  7. bfloyd6969

    bfloyd6969 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    51
    216
    Oct 2, 2008
    Ohio
    Thanks - and Tru Oil is to be used on the fingerboard as well? Just apply over the frets, or tape the frets off? Greatly appreciate the help.
     

  8. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Apply over the frets. When you are done with the finish on the neck, you can either leave it on top the frets( strings will wear it off), or you can mask the wood portion of the fret board and buff the finish off the frets using some 0000 steel wool or synthetic.
     

  9. bfloyd6969

    bfloyd6969 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    51
    216
    Oct 2, 2008
    Ohio

  10. JCBurke59

    JCBurke59 Tele-Holic

    878
    Jan 7, 2009
    Long Island, NY
    Make sure you familiarize yourself with the application process for Tru-Oil.
    I've done a few necks and my first piece of advice would be to use the thinnest coat possible when applying the finish.
    Many extremely thin coats will work far better than fewer 'heavier' coats.

    This is especially true on the fingerboard where the Tru-Oil may have a tendency to pool against the fret edges.
    Last time I did a fretted maple neck with Tru-Oil, I used paper coffee filters to apply the finish to the fingerboard.
    This allowed me to immediately remove any excess finish from against the frets and worked out really well.

    BTW, Tru-Oil is my favorite neck finish for the way it feels as well as how good it looks.
     

  11. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Ad Free Member

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    I've done two necks with it, and I'm really happy with the look and feel (and the smell, too, actually:)), though it took me weeks and weeks and weeks to get them the way I wanted them, getting about 2 or 3 coats on per week. You can get as thick and glossy a finish as you want, simply by continuing to build up layers. Both of my necks have easily more than ten coats (after a while I just lost count). I applied it with little pads that I made, first out of old t-shirts, then flannel shirts, and finally non-woven fiber cleaning/dusting sheets, which worked the best for me. I tried paper coffee filters, but found them too stiff; maybe I need to watch somebody else use them.

    When you're just wiping it on in thin coats, you don't really get much on the frets--almost nothing on the tops.

    The best tip I picked up about T-O (besides the obvious ones like "use thin coats"):
    T-O reacts with oxygen; it doesn't only harden by evaporating solvent/vehicle, like nitro. If it gets in contact with the air, you can't just thin it back to liquid. I tried this and got stuff kinda like what you cough up first thing in the morning after you've had a cold for awhile.:oops:

    Some people try things like storing the bottle upside down between coats, or filling the bottle with glass beads as you use it, to minimize the amount of air in the bottle, or squirting some inert gas into the bottle before you close it up. But what has worked pretty well for me is just to poke a tiny hole through the foil seal on top of the bottle instead of ripping the whole seal off. I pour out a little bit of oil into a thimble-sized plastic cup (trial and error has taught me that about 13 drops of oil and a few drops of mineral spirits is enough to saturate one of the little pads I make and coat either the front or the back of a guitar neck), and close the bottle back up immediately. I've had my 8oz bottle open dozens and dozens of times since April, and it's not chunky yet. :cool:
     

  12. dman

    dman Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 28, 2008
    Antioch, IL
    Tru Oil is terrific. Adding my 2 centavos to what Jupiter said, I'd recommend only poking a hole in the foil with a small brad AND storing it upside down AND putting a square of tripled-up plastic wrap over the foil before recapping. That's my method and I've yet to get any goobers in it.

    For application, I like to make what is called in French polishing a "tampon". I use a 2-3" square of cotton t-shirt, put 2-3 cotton balls inside, fold up the corners and secure with a rubber band. Load it with a few drops of Tru Oil and apply...smooth n' easy!

    Just make sure you unfold the cotton square and air everything out...probably not likely, but you don't want it spontaneously combusting and burning down your abode!

    And Jupiter's right...it smells great!
     

  13. bfloyd6969

    bfloyd6969 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    51
    216
    Oct 2, 2008
    Ohio
    Thanks for all the application tips everyone! Are there any full application tutorials around online that you all can recommend for a newbie?
     

  14. Mike Simpson

    Mike Simpson Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    61
    Mar 19, 2006
    Gilbert, AZ (PHX)
    If you are going to spend the money on a good neck like a TMO-fat you should put a nitro lacquer or poly finish on it. if nothing else buy a spray can of clear nitro from Reranch or Stewmac.
     

  15. dman

    dman Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 28, 2008
    Antioch, IL
    Not that I'm aware of, although I'll bet there's something on Youtube.

    Just try it on scrap stock first...you'll get the hang of it in no time.

    I put on 10-12 coats, letting them dry 24 hours in between. The bottle says 2 hours, but if it's humid at all, it takes longer...I prefer to err on the side of caution. After every 3 coats, I smooth it with a fine white 3M pad (equal to 0000 steel wool....Woodcraft and Rockler's got 'em). I'll let it dry acouple of days or so after the final coat, then buff it out with polishing compound.:cool:
     

  16. tap4154

    tap4154 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 14, 2009
    Southern California
    I haven't finished a guitar neck in it, but have done about four rifle stocks over the years with Tru-Oil, and IMO clean fingers are the best applicators. I always used Birchwood/Casey Stock Sheen & Conditioner as the final buffing agent (use cheesecloth to rub it out) and it works great. Gives it super smooth and hard satin finish.
     

  17. JCBurke59

    JCBurke59 Tele-Holic

    878
    Jan 7, 2009
    Long Island, NY
    Same here. I've only used the coffee filter trick to work a fretted fingerboard.
    Any lint free material should be okay, but the coffee filters are cheap, completely lint free and hold their shape well.

    Good point. After several coats of T-O have been applied, you can start 'working' the finish if necessary.
    If it needs to be smoother, a little scotchbrite or 0000 steel wool can be used as needed between coats.
    If you've been applying it thin enough this may not even be necessary.
    The final surface finish is created the same way and can be anything from satin to a high gloss.
    I like to use some old denim (dry) to get a soft gloss.

    Here's a T-O finished TMO-FAT on my #1 partscaster (this neck was stained first):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

  18. flyingbanana

    flyingbanana Poster Extraordinaire

    Got a pic of the top of that neck?
     

  19. JCBurke59

    JCBurke59 Tele-Holic

    878
    Jan 7, 2009
    Long Island, NY
    Yeah, but the lighting isn't the best...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Just a note here: when I did this build I pulled the original frets from the Allparts neck (I wanted stainless) which allowed me to sand the fingerboard.
    This is important because Allparts uses a sealer of some kind on the fingerboards of their 'unfinished' necks.
    Had I not been able to sand the sealer off of the fingerboard, I would have had to use a different process to color this neck.
    My usual neck finishing routine (as on this one) is: Stew-Mac ColorTone vintage amber stain (diluted with water).
    After the color is 'right' and fully dried, I apply the Tru-Oil straight from the bottle.

    This one is the neck where I used coffee filters to get between the frets:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

  20. Old Cane

    Old Cane Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 7, 2007
    Murfreesboro, TN
    I really like the neck I did with TO but I just don't like the look of it. I like the nice deep tinted glassy looking finishes I get with lacquer. But I still have no problem playing the neck when I play that guitar.
     

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