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Tru-Oil Finish (How do I make it glossy?)

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by Royal Tele, Aug 2, 2009.

  1. Royal Tele

    Royal Tele Tele-Holic

    Age:
    30
    846
    Jul 13, 2009
    Lone Star State
    I've just finished my Telecaster's Tru-Oil finish and I'd like to make it glossy now. I've seen pictures on this forum of guys' Tele necks that were finished with Tru-Oil and had a glossy shine, so I figured I'd ask. What should I do to make it glossy? Should I use one of Birchwood-Casey's other products (the gun stock wax, etc.) or something else? (Doing neck AND body.) If you've done a Tru-Oil finish and sucessfully made it glossy, please share your advice and experience. Thanks!
     

  2. JCBurke59

    JCBurke59 Tele-Holic

    878
    Jan 7, 2009
    Long Island, NY
    I've done a few necks and they generally gloss up on their own as more coats go on. What does your neck look like now and how much Tru-Oil have you applied?

    I have used grey and white Scotchbrite pads to work the finish as well as old denim and even some microfiber cloths (dry) to buff up and even out the gloss.

    I haven't done any bodies, but my understanding is that once enough Tru-Oil is on, you can polish it like a lacquer finish to get maximum shine. To me this means polishing products like Finesse-It II machine polish and hand glaze by 3M or Scratch-X by Meguiars.

    These are all Tru-Oil'ed. Besides the Stew-Mac VA dye (applied before the Tru-Oil), no other products were used on them at all. They were just Tru-Oiled in many very thin coats then buffed. Sorry for the repeat pix - they've been posted here before.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

  3. Royal Tele

    Royal Tele Tele-Holic

    Age:
    30
    846
    Jul 13, 2009
    Lone Star State
    Thanks very much... I guess I'll just add layer upon layer until it's thick enough to buff.
     

  4. JCBurke59

    JCBurke59 Tele-Holic

    878
    Jan 7, 2009
    Long Island, NY
    Just don't get too tempted to put it on thick. You really need to build up thin coats. If you do it this way, you should be able to do 2 or 3 coats a day and have it dry enough to buff a week or so after the last thin coat. If it goes on too heavy, it begins to get uneven and takes waaayyyyy longer to dry hard.

    If you see uneven spots developing, you can use some Scotchbrite to level things out between coats.

    Joe

    [edited to remove block sanding advice. I've read about others doing it but never tried it myself. I have done the Scotchbrite and buffing successfully - numerous times.]
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2009

  5. PixelMover

    PixelMover Tele-Holic

    743
    Oct 21, 2008
    Boston Area
    Jumping in here as well -- hope you don't mind Royal!

    Quick question for you guys!

    I allowed my TruOiled body to hang for three weeks. Today I buffed down the final coat with 0000. It's no longer clear but a dull finish. I've noticed as well that simply my finger oils seem to leaves marks on it.

    I read in the TruOil tutorial piece to apply lemon oil treatment and buff to a high shine - though others on this site suggest finess-it II.

    Question: Will either of these 1)get rid of the finger marks and 2) allow me to buff the body to a decent shine?

    Thank you for the further assistance! I'm in the home stretch!
    Andy
     

  6. flatfive

    flatfive Friend of Leo's

    Apr 23, 2009
    Monterey, CA
    Hi all. I don't disagree with the advice, but it may be useful to point
    out that polishing Tru-Oil is a little trickier than polishing lacquer or
    shellac.

    Tru-Oil is called a "reactive" finish, because the finish changes chemically
    after it is applied. This means that successive coats do not "melt" into
    a single layer of finish, so care is needed when polishing not to sand or
    polish through the top layer of finish -- the divisions between coats
    can become visible, and it's not repairable.

    Lacquer (and shellac) is called an "evaporative" finish -- there's not
    chemical change when the finish dries, and successive coats melt
    into a single layer of finish.

    Bob Flexner's book on wood finishing explains this stuff well.
     

  7. 930vet

    930vet Tele-Meister

    423
    Apr 22, 2008
    NVa
    I'm not saying that this is not true, but I saw no evidence of this when I used tru-oil, and I thought it was known as an easily repairable finish. I just rubbed on the tru-oil and after it dried for a few days polished it with 3m Finesse-It II. Maybe if I had tried to sand it it would have been a problem. I'm not sure that having a reactive-type finish precludes chemical/molecular bonds between layers, either.
     

  8. flatfive

    flatfive Friend of Leo's

    Apr 23, 2009
    Monterey, CA
    I've experienced this when sanding a headstock with 1000 or 2000 grit
    paper. Polishing compound is unlikely to cause problems, but rubbing
    compound might.

    I don't think there are any chemical bonds between Tru-Oil layers if older layers
    are allowed to dry thoroughly -- that's why Tru-Oil recommends steel
    wool between layers: it provides a mechanical connection.

    I suggest reading Flexner or Jewitt if you doubt that layers of reactive
    finishes don't chemically bond.
     

  9. PixelMover

    PixelMover Tele-Holic

    743
    Oct 21, 2008
    Boston Area
    Flatfive -- my question is simply, was I wrong to 0000 sand/buff the final top layer of TruOil? Will Finesse It or 3M shine this on up or should I hit it with another Truoil coat, NOT buff with 0000 and then use the FinesseIt or 3M?
     

  10. Royal Tele

    Royal Tele Tele-Holic

    Age:
    30
    846
    Jul 13, 2009
    Lone Star State
    So far I've had success doing the following:
    1. apply tru-oil
    2. sand w/ 1000 grit sandpaper
    3. repeat step 1 and 2 numerous times
    4. when tru-oil begins to have it's own gloss and shine b/c of numerous coats, I stop sanding between coats (so as to really let the finish get thick)
    5. I plan to use 2000 grit sandpaper after the final coat just before applying 3M Finesse-It II polish
     

  11. PixelMover

    PixelMover Tele-Holic

    743
    Oct 21, 2008
    Boston Area
    Thanks Royal, since I just buffed with 0000 after my final coat I should be fine applying 3M Finesse It-II polish.

    Appreciate it man
     

  12. 930vet

    930vet Tele-Meister

    423
    Apr 22, 2008
    NVa
    It really doesn't matter to me one way or the other, and I didn't say that they did bond, I just said that I don't think it's impossible that they do (is it really accurate to call tru-oil a purely reactive finish? Something about the way it is made transforms an oil that is not a reactive finish into something that is, but at the molecular level could there be enough molecules that are left with the original properties so that tru-oil retains some characteristics of both types of finishes?), as a possible explanation for the fact that I have not seen a problem with sanding through one layer to another and seeing that feather layered effect (I can't remember the term for it), and that tru-oil is known as an easily repaired finish, which I would not expect based on what you are saying. I have used sandpaper and steel wool on tru-oil without that problem, even though I sanded through to the wood by mistake. I actually did have what I think was pretty good success just polishing the final layer without sanding or steel wooling between the last few coats. I think the reason for this is that the tru-oil is actually polished during application, so you wind up with something pretty smooth that is not too hard to polish. Another possible explanation is that by not wooling between coats it leaves each coat roughed enough for successive layers to get a good mechanical bond; conversely, sanding/wooling between layers too finely maybe inhibits that mechanical bond. All I know is that something about my process avoided the problem that you saw.
     

  13. Royal Tele

    Royal Tele Tele-Holic

    Age:
    30
    846
    Jul 13, 2009
    Lone Star State
    So here's my last question to toss out to you guys... I've pretty much got all of the Tru-Oil layers built up that I want on both the neck and body already. (It's looking really nice too!) They both have a shiny gloss going on and the finish feels nice and solid on there. I didn't do any sanding between the last few coats that I applied, and that seemed to work out well.

    The last question(s): Do I need to do any sanding on the last coat (which is currently dry right now) before polishing and buffing it with 3M Finesse-It II polishing finish? If so, does it need to be wet-sanded or dry-sanded? And will 2000 grit sand paper serve the right purpose?

    Oh, and one question about the polishing/buffing: how much of the Finesse-It II polish should I work with at a time? Are we talking just a dab on the cloth to start out and apply more when needed? Or will a little amount go a long way? Or will I need to use a hefty amount?

    My plans were to wet-sand with 2000 grit paper and then polish/buff the heck out of it with the Finesse-It II and a cloth. But please let me know if this is not the best way to go.

    Thanks!
     

  14. 930vet

    930vet Tele-Meister

    423
    Apr 22, 2008
    NVa
    I would try skipping the sanding or steel wool and just try polishing with the 3m, and see if it gets the finish where you want it to be. When I'm using 3m I put on enough to smear it over the area I want to work on, maybe 3"x3" and not leave much more than a film. Then I just polish until the haze is gone, see what it looks like, and then repeat until the shine is where I want it- basically trial and error. The problem I have with sandpaper is that it is dangerous- even 2000 can cut through the finish if you are not careful enough, and so I think it adds to the risk when you are at a point where you hope you are almost finished- you don't want to be having to repair a sand through. It's really hard to sand thru with Finesse.
     

  15. Royal Tele

    Royal Tele Tele-Holic

    Age:
    30
    846
    Jul 13, 2009
    Lone Star State
    What if I have some little spots where it feels like there may be some minute buildups going on from the Tru-Oil? Will that even out with the polishing? Or would I only be able to get rid of those by sanding?
     

  16. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Personally, I wouldn't sand truoil. That kind of eliminates the whole reason to use tru oil. Birchwood casey makes a whole line of products to use in conjunction with tru oil to get a glossy mirror like appearence. But That starts with conditioners, grainfillers, sealers, oil, polishes and what not.

    Whenever I use truoil, I apply copious amounts of light coats, then buff. no sanding at all.
    You can sand it, but if done properly you don't have to. Just lots of steps.
     

  17. 930vet

    930vet Tele-Meister

    423
    Apr 22, 2008
    NVa
    they will probably need sanding. Make sure you use a sanding block, and best of luck.
     

  18. PixelMover

    PixelMover Tele-Holic

    743
    Oct 21, 2008
    Boston Area
    I had very nice results lightly buffing with 0000 between coats -- spray TruOil then wiped -- just enough rubbing to give a satin/matte finish. I have some 8 coats on my dyed ash body.

    I polished the face once with Finesse-It II last night and it was too much for me after working out. Today at lunch I went out and bought a buffing wheel for my drill, will try this tonight on a low/med setting. The wheel is only 3/4 of an inch thick so it will take time, but I want this baby to shine!
     

  19. flatfive

    flatfive Friend of Leo's

    Apr 23, 2009
    Monterey, CA
    Hi. I guess it is possible that a finish could combine
    some features of reactive and evaporative finishes,
    but there would still seem to be issues in repairing such
    a finish.

    I have seen a problem with sanding through Tru-Oil
    layers. Like many people I put on very thin coats of Tru-Oil.

    When people talk of repairability of Tru-Oil finishes I
    don't think they mean it in the same sense as lacquer, where
    you can do a drop fill and the drop "melts" into the existing
    finish. I think they mean something like they can apply
    further layers of Tru-Oil long after the original finishing
    was done.

    I don't see how *not* lightly sanding or steel-wooling between
    Tru-Oil coats would help in getting a good mechanical bond.

    I guess I'd like to repeat the main point I was trying to make.
    Folks here often see Tru-Oil as an easy-to-apply alternative
    to lacquer. But it is really a completely different type of finish.
    I like it a lot for necks, but it doesn't well suited for
    getting a glossy body, where there are large flat areas that
    expose minor problems.

    I guess I should do some finishing on scrap to show problems
    in sanding through Tru-Oil layers.




     

  20. flatfive

    flatfive Friend of Leo's

    Apr 23, 2009
    Monterey, CA
    In my experience on a couple of necks, the more coats
    of Tru-Oil I added, the more these kinds of problems showed
    up. On the maple necks I finished, the Tru-Oil looked fantastic
    after about 3 very thin coats. When I tried to get more depth
    to the finish by adding more coats, irregularities started to
    show up.

    On the last neck I did, I think I used 3 or 4 coats on the neck
    itself, and 2 or 3 more on the headstock. I had to be super
    careful during the application to keep the finish on the
    headstock looking smooth.

    But hey, I didn't have to sand and polish afterward like I'd
    have to do with lacquer.

    I forgot to mention -- I make the back of the neck matte with
    0000 steel wool when done, but leave the headstock alone.
     

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