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What I learned about proper application of Tru-Oil.

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by RavageTheEarth, Dec 1, 2020.

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  1. RavageTheEarth

    RavageTheEarth Tele-Meister

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    So I started using Tru-Oil about two months ago. Before that, I had never finished anything in my life. I had a maple Warmoth neck for my Mustang that I bought. My initial job was passable but definitely not great. A couple of days ago I sanded the entire thing down and decided to start again. I also got an Alder body that I applied Tru-Oil to. I'd like to share some things I've learned in this venture.


    I did a ton of research beforehand about the application a few months ago. People suggested cotton, coffee filters, and even applying it with your bare fingers. I tried each method. With my fingers, I found that it was difficult to get a light and even coating. The Tru-Oil would pool up a bit on the edges even with a small amount and it wouldn't look all that great. It had streaking and swirling when it dried.

    For the next method, I cut up a 100% cotton T-Shirt and used that. It was much better than the finger method. This method seemed to work better on my very thirsty Alder body than it did on my maple neck.

    The last method is coffee filters and I believe this is the best method. When I first did my neck, I would fold a coffee filter up. It worked, but it wasn't ideal. My tip is this, cut a coffee filter into 4 pieces. Take one piece and do not fold it. Apply a small amount of Tru-Oil directly onto the coffee filter and let it absorb a little bit. Apply to the fretboard side of the headstock. Let the entire filter get wet and use a decent amount of pressure and buff it in quickly. Then try to use even force with your hand and squeegee the headstock upwards with decent pressure. Try to get the entire headstock in one stroke and don't touch it again. This stuff dries very quickly. Make sure to spread any oil that may have been squeegeed off so you don't have any drips dry on it. Flip over and repeat with the back of the headstock, this time squeegeeing down towards the neck and then do the neck itself.

    Remember, you want VERY LIGHT COATS. If you see streaking after it has dried, gently sand the neck with 2000 grit sandpaper and apply another coat. I've tried 0000 steel wool between coats, but I've had much better results with 2000 grit. Repeat that until your last coat has no streaking. If you are happy with how it looks you are done.

    You want to buff the Tru-Oil into the wood. Tru-Oil dries very quickly and you will feel it start to get "syrupy" as you are buffing it in. When this happened I would wipe in the direction of the grain in the wood to even it out and to reduce swirls and streaking when it dried.

    Anyways, that's my rambling. Here is the neck that I sanded and am currently refinishing. I just wanted to share some tips to hopefully help some people out.

     
  2. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I wish I could have found this post when I started using Tru-Oil. I posted in one of my build threads (Jazzbo Hepcaster) about my experience using it...but I've yet to get truly ideal results. I've gotten VERY good results, mind you, just still have a lot of refinement of technique to do. Thanks for sharing these tips. I haven't tried coffee filters yet...but will use them on my next build.
     
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  3. dougstrum

    dougstrum Tele-Afflicted

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    Looks like you got a great result! Coffee filter sounds like a trick worth trying~
     
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  4. DjimiWrey

    DjimiWrey Tele-Meister

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    having had no personal experience with tru-oil, that's a better look than i was expecting
    nice job
     
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  5. Sconnie

    Sconnie Tele-Afflicted

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    +1 on coffee filters, it's the best and most affordable method I've found for it. Tru-Oil is tricky stuff but if you have patience, and no dedicated workshop, it's pretty much ideal especially during the colder months when you can't work outside.

    I found that even after a couple dozen coats, buffing with denim and auto polish will remove what you've built up, particularly on edges where the film is thinner. Just be careful with that last step and you'll get high gloss results.

    Doing as much research as possible before starting is important, it's not an easy product to work with at first.

    However, when you're done this stuff feels like 10 year old worn in lacquer right away, it's great!
     
  6. Sconnie

    Sconnie Tele-Afflicted

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    Also, great job! Those results look great!
     
  7. Stratdan

    Stratdan TDPRI Member

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    Looks great. I watched the video below and got excellent results with TO
     
  8. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I use cotton cut offs from old shirts. Never use the same bit twice. Always super thin applications. Allow to dry properly before next. Fine wire wool any excess or bits.
     
  9. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Afflicted

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    Yep !!!

    Cardinal Rule #1 - Apply very light coats :)!



    edit: I've found that gun cleaning patches made from synthetic material work better than coffee filters for applying TruOil. Another good thing about the patches is they're cheap ;).

    .
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2020
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  10. RolandG

    RolandG Tele-Meister

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    Have you tried applying oil with 0000 wire wool, and then wiping it off with a piece of cotton sheeting?
     
  11. lammie200

    lammie200 Friend of Leo's

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    My 2 cents:
    It isn't so much about how you apply it. It is more about how you wipe it off. I put on a nitrile glove and dip my fingers in a paper cup with about 1/8" of TruOil in it. Then I smear it on one side of a guitar body and within a minute or two wipe it off with a felt pad. Next are the edges with the same method and then the other side with the same method. One final wipe of the whole thing with the felt pad and then I let it dry for 24 hours. Buff with a grey scotch brite and then a white scotch brite, and then apply another coat. I don't do it but I could get a final high gloss with polishing and waxing compounds.
    144622.0.jpg
     
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