Sunday, 26 May 2013

12 String 335 - Tru Oil to the Rescue!

With the guitar top, back and sides now dyed using ColorTone Vintage Amber dye, the second phase of finishing can now start in earnest. This phase involves the application of Tru-Oil to the entire guitar - including the natural mahogany neck. Tru-Oil is a product primarily aimed at the finishing of gun stocks, and is produced by Birchwood-Casey out of the USA. I managed to find the stuff in several places here in Australia (all of them gun shops) and it was easy to get it shipped to my door. The collective wisdom of the internet seems to be that this stuff does not keep very well after the bottle is open (it slowly reacts with any air allowed into the bottle), so the best idea seems to buy only enough to finish one project at a time.The 250mL bottle (8 oz) seems to fit the bill nicely for me.

Anyway, application of the oil is basically idiot proof. To begin with a 'soak coat' is recommended in which a liberal amount of oil is applied to the wood, saturating it. A little rubbing works the oil down into the surface, after which it is allowed to soak in for about 10 minutes. After this, all the excess is wiped off and the guitar is left to dry for at least 24 hours. As I said, pretty idiot proof and even I managed to get this done without incident. I must say, even whilst applying this first coat of the oil it was obvious what a difference the oil makes to the figure in the maple; the grain stands out spectacularly after just this one application.

Subsequent coats require much less oil. With these coats, a little Tru-Oil on a clean scrap of t-shirt is wiped over the surface leaving a thin film that is then allowed to dry hard. The surface can be handled typically after 2 to 3 hours. I am applied the oil to all surfaces on the guitar equally, including binding. The oil does seem to dry on the binding, but overall it's not very even and i can see small splotches of slightly darker colour here and there. I think that before my last few coats of oil (in the very distant future) I'll scrape the binding clean again.

Even after the third coat of oil, the top of my guitar is still feeling rather rough. I have about 5 coats of oil to apply before I start wet sanding - so another 2 or 3. The oil is going on easily, and I am able to get one coat onto the entire guitar each day (top in the morning, back and sides in the afternoon). To allow the Tru-oil as long as possible a shelf-life, I am trying to squeeze out all the air from the bottle before I replace the cap, and the storing it upside down in between uses. Who knows - it might make a difference.