Am working on my 3rd neck.  Have left the previous two poplar necks unfinished.  But the current neck is oak and I thought it might do well with some kind of finish.

My first thought was a 50-50 mix of mineral spirits and tung oil followed by a second coat of straight tung.

Bearing in mind that I have little woodworking experience; what finishes work best for CBG?

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There are many, many workable finishes for guitar necks.

Tung oil will work, but you will not get much in the way of grain filling.

Other finishing materials such as varnish and poly will do a better job of grain filling on oak, but you may need to sand between coats to achieve a smooth, filled-grain finish.

My preferred finish material for necks is shellac that is hand rubbed with a cloth pad. It is not a popular material these days, but I find that it fills grain, drys in just minutes and is durable enough for a guitar neck.

I'm sure I have overlooked some other very good finishing materials, but other board members will fill in those blanks.

Forgive ignorance, please.  "Grain filling?" 

And I would like some more detail on "shellac". 

What I'm looking for is a finish that's relatively transparent and relatively durable yet still highlights the wood.  All I know about woodworking is the little I've picked up since starting CBG, which is to say, "Not much."

Love shellac.  It creates a warm look to the wood.  I also rub on stains

Different woods have different grain sizes. Maple has a very tight grain so that when sanded it feels glassy smooth. Oak, on the other hand, has a relatively course grain so once sanded you will still see and feel minute dips along the length of the neck. Different finishes have differing ability to fill these grain holes and produce that glassy feel.

Google French Polish Guitar with Shellac and you'll find several how-to pages that will explain shellac and its use in guitar finishes.

Good luck.

Thank you

Hi Mark, I think a quick to apply finish is Tru-Oil gunstock finish. Very durable and not effected by hand moisture etc. It is easily hand rubbed on and gives a silky smooth feel. I often remove lacquer from necks and apply this at the request of guitarists, due to the slick fast action it provides. 

Shellac is available in premixed containers or as packets of flakes to be mixed as required. It does not have a long shelf life when mixed. Colours are normally Blond or Orange. Its not real cheap to buy the flakes but it goes a long, long way when mixed.

I use shellac as a French polish, padded on, a long laborious procedure to get a decent build of thickness. But on necks I just use it to bring out the grain and seal the timber then hit it with a wax finish, even Tru-oil.

I don't worry about trying to fill the grain on a simple 3- 4 string CBG. In the guitar manufacturing world makers don't even fill the back and sides grain on guitars costing many thousands of dollars. Latest fashion.


Thank you for the info.  Was looking forward to your response.

I used Tru-oil on some scrap.  Nice.  Thinking now that stuff may be my "go-to". 

Hi if you wanted to go down the grain fill path then a simple system I use is Shellac and sawdust. Make some dust from the timber you are using, I put mine in one of those small spice shaker jars. Then sprinkle it on the neck, then with a small pad ball of cloth moisten the ball with Shellac and rub in circular action to rub the dust into the pours of the grain.


Hey, the sawdust idea is great.

I've been using #0000 Pumice that is sold at woodworking outlets. It fills the grain and micro smooths the wood at the same time.


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