Newby needs some help.  I've done a couple of guitars with red oak necks & fretboards.  I've stained the necks then poly coats.  Have only stained the fretboards.

Now, I've got a neck almost complete.  It's maple with a walnut fretboard.  The frets are installed already (probably a mistake).

I'm thinking Danish Oil on both first to set deep in the wood.  Then something extra on the maple neck only for a satin finish, maybe poly?

I like the idea of the danish oil's finish soaking into the wood.....Looking for ideas from more experienced builders.  I like the raw colors and the natural tints of the woods so I'd like to enhance the grain but I'm not looking to darken the woods.  What would you do and why?  

Fretboard:  Lemon oil, Olive oil, Danish oil, Tung oil, tru oil?

Maple Neck:  Danish oil with poly coat, Tung oil buffed a little, tru oil?




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  • I use formby's tung oil. Usually 3-4 coats. It builds up to a nice finish. Poly always runs so I rarely use it. With tung, less is more. Brush or wipe on small areas then wipe down immediately wth the grain where possible making sure no drips or build up. The wiping down is the hardest as tung sets up quickly. Re-wet your wiping cloth if nec. Dry 24hrs., buff gently with 0000 steel wool. Blow or wipe off dust with tack cloth and repeat until you get the finish you want. You'll think your not applying much of a coat, but repeated thin layers produces a fine finish. That's my 2cents.
    • To clarify, I'm mostly talking about the finish on the instrument body, back of neck and headstock. Although tung is ok on fretboards , sometimes I just want the feel of wood, so maybe one coat on fretboard or a natural sealing stain . I've used REM oil (Remington gun oil) on fretboards to good effect. If you use tung on fretboards , just remember to wipe off excess thoroughly. Good luck.
      • Totally agree!

        Haven't tried Remington's oil. Thanks for the tip.

        Last week I broke down and tried Minwax "Wipe On Poly" on an odd-shaped piece of furniture that needed more protection than just oil. I'm impressed. Rub on a THIN coat, wait, buff w/0000, rub on more, etc. No runs & no brush strokes. Multiple thin coats are better than too much at once. Gonna' wait 2 weeks to cure and then buff paste wax with a 0000 pad to get a final polish.

  • Hi all, I'm also a newby here. Interesting to learn about the spontaneous combustion of the linseed oil rags. I used to use it on most of my wooden creations, never had a problem with the rags bursting into flames, maybe they use a different formula these days? It was called Raw Linseed Oil in those days (I'm 73) and it was my favorite wood preserver. Wished I remembered it when doing my first guitar build.

    • Be wary! It's the "mineral spirits" that give off heat when they evaporate--unlike water, which cools when it evaporates. Bunch your old rags into a tight bundle and the heat can ignite the mineral spirits (and oil) that remains on the rag. More than one new home has been burned to the ground by an incompetent painter piling rags on the floor.

      The federally mandated "fix" of putting in water in a sealed container and disposing as a hazardous chemical is awfully complicated. Personally, I spread the rags on a concrete slab or hang them on a metal chain-link fence until they are completely dry. Then they're safe to toss.

  • I use old English lemon dark or light gives me the color I like. neck fret board and box all get a few coats over time

  • OK.  2 follow ups.....

    1-I'm going to install frets first, then apply Danish oil.  Is this the order y'all go in?

    2-For 0000 steel wool, are y'all using real steel wool or synthetic?


  • I tape off the fret board and use Minwax high gloss varnish on the rest of the guitar. I start with it thinned half and half with mineral spirits. Then after a couple of coats I up the concentration to 2/3 varnish 1/3 spirits.

    When I am done with that, I uncover the fret board and give it about five coats of mineral oil AKA baby oil. It works well, it,is easymto renew later. Just clean lightly woth a mr eraser just damp, dry and give more coats.

    Last go round, I picked up the fast dry mixture by accident. I like the minway fast dry even better than the standrd. It levels right out when applying. I use a cheap rubber brush to apply and then just throw,it away.
  • I have had very good luck with Tru Oil on the necks and it's very easy to apply. You can build up as many coats as you like then use #0000 steelwool to take it to a satin finish if you don't like glossy. You can even use it on the box. On the fretboards I have been using ColorTone Fretboard Finishing Oil from Stew-Mac. It's $15 a bottle but a little goes a long way so the bottle should last forever. On the next few builds I'm going to try Danish Oil on the necks to see how I like that.  


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