Tru-Oil question.

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by Ironwolf, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. Ironwolf

    Ironwolf Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I am finishing a walnut guitar and am using Tru-Oil initially to darken the wood's color. After a planned 6 coats or so of the Tru-Oil, I intend to finish with lacquer.

    I am buffing with steel wool between coats of the Tru- Oil. My question is, after the last coat of Tru-oil has cured for a week or so, can it be wetsanded with 600 grit to prep for the lacquer? Or should I only buff with the steel wool?
     
  2. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Just buff it with the steel wool.

    Or you could just use Birchwood Casey Sealer Filler. You only need 2 coats, and it dries in about an hour. Since you are going to shoot lacquer on top, I think the six coats of Tru Oil is a bit over kill.
     
  3. Ironwolf

    Ironwolf Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    Thanks Colt. The reason I was going for the number of coats I was (it's a guestimate) was to allow the Tru-Oil to fill any grain that was missed by the grain filler. We'll see how it does.
     
  4. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    thats the good part about the sealer filler, it fills the grain quickly, and has all the properties of Tru Oil's grain popping abillity.

    But it is a sealer/filler, so its not a stand alone finish. It still needs a clear coat.

    I don't like Tru Oil because it always takes 12-24 hours to dry in my climate before I can buff it with steel wool. That means I have to screw with it for a week or two.
     
  5. Home Grown Tele

    Home Grown Tele Tele-Holic

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    An easier way to use Tru-Oil as a filler is to wetsand with it. It'll create a slurry from the sanded wood and fill the pores. If you do small sections at a time with a fairly liberal dose of TO you can get it done before the TO begins to set up. It can then be buffed out to a beautiful finish, either satin or high gloss.
     
  6. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    That doesn't really sound "easy". Not saying it doesn't work, but surely doesn't sound easy.
     
  7. SixShooter

    SixShooter Friend of Leo's

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    I think you'll want the Tru Oil reasonably smooth before you top it with nitro. Any raised bumps will transmit through the lacquer. Also if there are any depressions in the Tru Oil those may not fill. If you can do that with steel wool fine. Also with sandpaper you can get the finish very flat (in height not gloss) which is important for a nice glossy finish. If you see any shiny spots after sanding you need to either keep sanding or apply more coats of Tru Oil. I guess I would ask why wouldn't you use sandpaper?
     
  8. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    When you apply Tru Oil with your finger, in numerous light coats, steel wool is all you need. If you slather it on there sloppy, and get ridges, and bumpies and what not, then its going on too thick in areas, and not going to cure in a timely manner. In that case, you would have to sand it flat.
     
  9. Keyser Soze

    Keyser Soze Tele-Holic

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    Call me retentive, but I'd still suggest a wash coat of shellac on top of the Tru-oil.

    Yes, many people successfully spray lacquer over tru-oil. But I just cannot get past the fact that, well, it's oil, and oil and lacquer just don't mix. Add in whatever skin contaminants the mineral spirits may have leeched from your skin (if you did finger application) and it only gets worse.

    Fish eye and cratering are the mark of Satan IMO.
     
  10. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Once the tru oil is cured, you can apply lacquer on top with no ill effects. Just like lacquer will lay on top of shellac, polyurethane, and acrylic when the substrate is dry.
     
  11. JCBurke59

    JCBurke59 Tele-Holic

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    Keyser, Tru-Oil is actually a varnish (oil + driers added) and once cured is a stable, hard, barrier finish all on its own. Ironwolf, I would encourage you to carefully evaluate the 'feel' of the Tru-Oil before applying any lacquer on top. I find the Tru-Oil finish to have an excellent 'fast' feel and it can be polished to a very high gloss if that's what you're after. Lacquer sometimes develops a sticky feel that I've never experienced with Tru-Oil alone. If you stilll want to add the lacquer, at least you will have evaluated the Tru-Oil by itself first.

    Different folks have had different experiences - but for me, all of my projects will have Tru-Oil neck finishes going forward. Make sure to keep your 'coats' of Tru-Oil as thin as possible (as in extremely, extremely, can't be any thinner, thin) for best results.

    These necks are all finished with Tru-Oil (clear lacquer on headstock faces only):
    Warmoth pro - 24 3/4" conversion, QS maple, ebony board, boat carve...
    [​IMG]

    Allparts TMO-FAT...
    [​IMG]

    Warmoth vintage modern, flame maple, SRV carve...
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Keyser Soze

    Keyser Soze Tele-Holic

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    Oh, I've used Tru-oil extensively, and like it very much for both guitars and other woodwork where I want a durable built up finish (for 'in the wood' type oil finishes I prefer Tried and True.) I've even shot lacquer and acrylic over it. And doing a clear finish on figured wood I often use some sort of oil to make the figure pop. I just don't do that anymore without sealing it off with some shellac between the oil and the topcoat.

    Whether Tru-oil is a 'varnish' really depends on what you define as varnish. IMO it is a drying oil. In my book to qualify as varnish it would need to contain something other than oil that remained after curing (e.g. polyurethanes, natural resin, etc.). If you look at the MSDS you will see that it contains just mineral spirits, modified oil, and linseed oil. Once cured all that remains is (hopefully) polymerized oil. It drives some of the 'natural oil' purists crazy to say that, but that's all Tru-oil is - oils and some evaporative solvent.

    The only problem wiht Tru-oil - or any oil, or oil/solvent combon is that prior to curing the solvent base and even the oil itself can pick up contaminants - either through the application process, or even from the raw wood itself and those contaminants can float right up to the surface of the final finish - just waiting to get into your lacquer. Get the wrong type of contaminant in a lacquer based product and you will get fisheye or cratering and once that contaimant is 'in' the lacquer it is darn near impossible to get rid of it. For whatever reason shellac is very good about sticking to just about anything while also not transmitting any contaminants up to its surface, maiking it a very effective sealer.

    I would never tell anyone it is mandatory, because far too many people get by without ever having a problem. In my case one too many bad experienced had led me to be religious about sealing with shellac just prior to application of any lacquer. Even since going that rout I've never had a contaminant problem with either lacquer or water based products. Shellac is cheap, it's easy, and it dries clear and silly quick. But, like I said, just call me retentive...
     
  13. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Two of those three ingredients have proprietary formulas, so we technically don't know what all is in them.
     
  14. JCBurke59

    JCBurke59 Tele-Holic

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    Keyser and Colt, I appreciate the posts - sounds like you know more about this stuff than most (certainly more than me).

    Just a general question to those that choose to add lacquer on top of Tru-Oil: what is the reason for the additional top coat? I tend to think of lacquer as more 'delicate' than the Tru-Oil so I'd personally rather leave it off. I've seen pictures of Tru-Oil shined up where it looks like the equal to a good lacquer finish. I just don't know the reason(s) that so many guys prefer to add a coat of lacquer. I've only ever done it to bury headstock decals.

    I've posted about Tru-Oil many times because I've used it with good (great IMHO) results. Truthfully, other than that I don't know all that much about the stuff.

    Joe
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2010
  15. SixShooter

    SixShooter Friend of Leo's

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    Nice coloring on this neck. What did you use?
     
  16. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Why lacquer over Tru Oil?

    Tru Oil is a PIMA.

    I love its abillity to pop grain and add dimension, but layering it on, coat after coat is messy, and takes forever in my climate. I have to wait overnight before I scuff between coats, and I like it after about 10-12 coats by itself. So that is going to take me about two weeks! Plus, the added drying time is going to create opportunities for dust and bugs to impregnate in the finish.

    You can make Tru Oil shiny, but not like lacquer. Lacquer is just easier to full with from my perspective. Plus, lacquer ages really cool!


    For all these reasons, I prefer Birchwood Casey Sealer/filler to actual tru oil for popping grain, and I prefer Lacquer finishes to Tru Oil finishes. But that is just me, everybody is different.

    As for fish eyes and oil contaminants. I've found that if I thoroughly clean my wood and finishes with Naptha and mineral spirits prior to finishing, I don't have any problems. The better I get at finishing, the more I focus on prep work and cleanliness.
     
  17. JCBurke59

    JCBurke59 Tele-Holic

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    Thanks. That is Stew-Mac Color Tone vintage amber with just a touch of medium brown (all mixed in water). The color was applied first, allowed to dry completely, then the Tru-Oil was added on top.
     
  18. Tom Pettingill

    Tom Pettingill Tele-Holic

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    It can take some effort, but I'd disagree that you can't get a top shelf beautiful high gloss mirror shine with Tru Oil. I use a lot of it and finish my custom steels with Tru Oil almost exclusively.

    .
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  19. JCBurke59

    JCBurke59 Tele-Holic

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    Colt, thats really funny as I find I'm able to work the Tru-Oil much faster than the wait time for lacquer to cure. FWIW, I put it on (a couple of drops at a time) with bare fingers. It's so thin that it's almost like trying to rub it back off again - there's never enough on to be 'wet', at most it might feel a little sticky. I also try to get a little heat worked in from friction while applying it. I've got a couple of nice sunny south facing windows where I leave the pieces to dry. This method usually allows handling in a couple of hours and any imperfections are usually minor enough to wipe off/out with a little Scotchbrite.

    As to the aging aspect, I wondered if that was part of it. Aged lacquer looks great and Tru-Oil definitely will not do that.

    Thanks for the reply.


    Tom - photos of your instruments were some I had seen that led me to mention the lacquer-like finish. Your work is spectacular.
     
  20. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I did not mean to imply that you could not get a high luster finish from Tru Oil, I just meant to say that its easier for me to do so with Lacquer as opposed to Tru Oil. We all use what works best for us. I am just glad we have all the wonderful options to choose from.


    Tom, the more I see your work, the more I want to build a Lap Steel! Beautiful work.
     
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