Oil finishes - little tutorial for my wet sanded oil finish technique

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WezVWezV Frets: 12623
edited August 2013 in Making & Modding
Sooner or later i seem to post this on every forum i go to, so lets get it here too.

This is my method for oil finishes arrived at over years of experimenting and adding extra stages.     I am yet to find a finish that feels better than this.  its super thing, super sleek and seems to last pretty well too.   

The same method can be used with danish oil or tru oil.  The main difference is the tru-oil one is a bit messier but the wood stays clean longer and needs less maintenance

Firstly the materials:
Birchwood-casey Tru-oil.   most searches for tru-oil bring up this brand so probably dont mention it.  bets to buy this stuff online
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Rustins Danish oil.  used be able to get this from wilkinsons but now they sell their own brand stuff, as do most DIY shops.   slightly different smells but they all work in a similar fashion so i usually just say danish oil
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Briwax natural- i always mentions this one by name, it dries quite hard whereas the DIY shop own brands tend to be a paste that and stay feeling slippy.  briwax is widely available at most DIY shops
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and liberon steel wool - no other brand will do
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Comments

  • WezVWezV Frets: 12623
    and the reason i avoid other brands of steel wool,

    here we have colron 0000, colron 00000 and liberon 0000
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 12623
    you can just  rub on a few coats of oil then flat it off and de-nib with the wire wool etc.  it will give you a perfectly serviceable finish


    i tend to go a bit further with repeated stages of wet sanding, buffing and waxing to give a much more developed finish.  I have been accused of making the process more complex than it needs to be, but nobody who has ever touched one of my oil finishes would agree with that, and really its just simple steps repeated a few times with no real risk of screwing up permanently 
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 12623
    This is the basic method:

    1. sand the guitar to a high grit first - minimum of 400 grit with wet &dry paper(halfords are usually the best place to get high grits locally).

    2. apply one liberal coat of oil rubbed in with a rag from an old shirt.  Give it 5 - 10 mins to soak in, rub off the excess and hang for 24 hours

    3. apply lighter coats rubbed in with a few hours drying time between  OR wetsand with the oil and a higher grit of wet &dry.  either way buff off the excess after 10-15 mins then leave till next coat.  repeat till happy

    4. wet sand with oil and immediately buff off OR rub down with wire/wool wax and buff

    main difference between the tru or danish oil is the tru-oil will build on the surface and danish wont really.   so danish oil benefits from the final wax more than tru-oil where it really is optional

    this is the wetsanding stage which I think is the crucial part of the process:

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  • WezVWezV Frets: 12623
    edited August 2013
    results:
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    a couple of tinted necks
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 17716
    Srsly. That Firebird...
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  • juansolojuansolo Frets: 1766
    edited August 2013
    Here's my Tele that used Wez's oil finishing technique 
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     No idea why it wont let me post that as a pic...

    Sorted it
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  • Adam_MDAdam_MD Frets: 3418
    Here's a few pics of the tremonti se I did using Wez's technique.  It took a while but was totally worth it.

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  • JadenJaden Frets: 251
    Nice technique Wez, mine isn't very different from that and like yours, has changed over the years. The more time and patience you put into a finish, the more it shows in the final result. I know if I really go to town, I can get very close to a sprayed finish. J.
    Jaden Rose Guitars :: Jaden Rose Guitars on Facebook :: My Facebook :: YouTube

    The young do not know enough to be prudent, therefore they attempt the impossible - and achieve it, generation after generation.

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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 21609
    juansolo said:
    No idea why it wont let me post that as a pic...
    Probably the porn filter.

    It's a beauty.
    Having trouble posting images here?  This might help.
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  • This is great, I'm hoping to be doing something similar to this in the next month or so. Any chance of some tips for removing a nitro finish prior to oiling?
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  • musicegbdfmusicegbdf Frets: 306
    I love oil finishes and the pics above remind me why.
    I also love the "organic" feel.
    I have been spending several days decorating...boring.  I decided to strip down my stair rails and bannisters as the paint keeps peeling off. So I decided to start from fresh. On stripping the bannister I find some really lovely grained wood
    Each of my daughters (3 of them) independantly commented on the wood and could I leave unpainted.

    So much more sanding to do , and off to buy some Danish oil tomorrow.

    Have a wisdom point on me , as this post has helped me !!
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  • juansolojuansolo Frets: 1766
    TTony said:
    juansolo said:
    No idea why it wont let me post that as a pic...
    Probably the porn filter.

    It's a beauty.
    Cheers.

    Sorted it, think it was because I was trying to do it on an iPad.
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  • axisusaxisus Frets: 21390
    Really useful thread! I plan to have a go at this
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  • DodgeDodge Frets: 906
    I love oiled finishes, and would consider anything else on a new build.  Here are mine, all with oiled finishes (the swamp ash Tele was done by someone else though!):

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  • Dodge said:
    I love oiled finishes, and would consider anything else on a new build.  Here are mine, all with oiled finishes (the swamp ash Tele was done by someone else though!):

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    That tele....oooooooooooo blimey!! What a babe!
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  • NPPNPP Frets: 219
    I tried that technique on my Strat and though I'd never done something like that before it came out pretty well. 

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  • BranshenBranshen Frets: 1218
    edited April 2015
    @adam_md I'm considering wet sanding my guitar's neck but it has binding just like your PRS SE. I'm not sure what binding is, is it actually plastic or just paint? can you wet sand over binding ok? 

    And a couple of general question, which are probably dumb, is how long does a wet sanded finish last? does it have to be redone? and does it protect the wood from moisture? I wouldn't want my guitar neck to absorb hand sweat.

    Edit: and also. Thanks again WezV for this amazing resource. Your work looks fabulous and it's very generous of you to share this knowledge.
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 12623
    Binding is plastic and you can use this technique with no issues. The oil wipes off but the process will help polish the plastic too

    Oil finishes need a bit more care than other finishes. When I mainly used danish oil I recommended re waxing every year for the first few years, then as it needed it after that

    Tru-oil doesn't need as much maintenance. I have a neck here that I originally did 10 years ago and has been well played since. I think its been re-waxed once
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  • Adam_MDAdam_MD Frets: 3418
    @Branshen Wez is da man for wet finishes follow his instructions and you can't go wrong. The binding on my se looked great after being sanded then coated in oil with the wood.

    I actually sold that guitar but miss is terribly because I spent so damn long getting it finished. Also 'twas a lovely piece of wood.
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  • SargeSarge Frets: 1917
    edited April 2015
    Beautiful work!
    I also exclusively use Tru-Oil, nothing better on a maple neck or an open grain swamp ash body.
    My method is similar except I apply extremely thin coats so there's no excess to remove, this also makes a bottle go much, much further :)
    1st coat is rubbed in hard then left overnight, then 3 or 4 more coats and a light de-nibbing/flatting with the wire wool and repeat till happy.

    here is my Westone Thunder1a (my avatar) this took just 6 thin coats with 2 wire woolings inbetween.
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    and another Thunder1 in progress, this is 8 coats so far, last coat just a few minutes ago
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