Sunday, 5 July 2015

Aussie Oil Part 2: Polishing

Ok, so here is the second part of my evaluation of Aussie Oil for guitar bodies. After applying 5 soak coats (as described here), the body had built up a good coverage of oil with no visible tide marks. I decided it was time to try and get the shine happening.

To do this, I reverted to the application method described on the side of the bottle, and recommended for small wooden pieces such as bowls and pens. What you do is put a small amount of oil on a clean cotton rag and work it onto a small area of the surface using a circular (polishing) motion.

Only a small amount of oil (a single large drip) on the rag!
Concentrating on a small area only, you rub and rub the oil onto the wood until the surface feels slick and dry. As you rub you feel the surface go through 3 distinct stages. Firstly, the oil is wet - it's being smeared over the surface and the rag is simply wiping it on. Next the oil gets sticky, and you can feel some resistance to the rag. Finally, the surface starts to feel smooth and dry. It is with this 3rd stage that you know you are getting there. During this stage, the oil on the rag also starts to get smooth. Now you can begin to look at the surface at an angle to look at the results. You may see some "smears" where the surface is still a little cloudy (not shiny) and you can continue to rub to remove these. If your rag has too much oil in it, you may just keep creating more smears. Don't worry - if you just let it dry and come back later the next application of oil will clean up these areas. The trick is to never let your rag get too loaded up with oil. If it does, get rid of it and start with a new piece.

Polishing coat #1: It's patchy, but the shine is coming up.
Use this method to slowly build up shine up the surface in small patches all over the body. To begin with, the patches will be distinct and the junctions between then messy. But over time, as you do more and more patches, the junctions will merge and disappear. The soak coats have a lot to do with this, as the underlying oil provides a good basis that stops any tide lines appearing due to the polishing.

Polish coat #3 (half only). The shine is improving with every coat.
The shine will start patchy, but as you build up more and more overlapping patches, concentrating on the areas with less shine each time, the gloss will slowly build. Be patient - it takes time. Serious time. And your arm will hurt. Yes, I mean really hurt. But in the end, if you stick with small patches and don't try to do too big an area at any one time, you will create a really satisfying shine. I truly believe that if my test piece of pine had been properly grain filled and sanded to 1200 grit, the surface would have been incredible by the end. As it is, the shine I achieved after about 6 complete polishing coats was pretty damn good if I do say so myself.

Polishing coat #6  (half only) The shine is getting really nice.
And so my final conclusion on Aussie Oil? Well it's definitely an option for clear coating guitar bodies. No question. It takes a lot of arm work (similar in many ways to french polishing) but it does achieve the desired results in the end. The final surface looks great and feels really nice indeed!

And in comparison to Tru-Oil? Well, Aussie Oil does have a few things going for it. Although it's a little more time consuming to apply, you don't have to worry about the oil drying too quickly and marring your building finish when you have a large body. With Tru-Oil, no matter how thinly I apply it, on a large body like a 335 I am constantly creating streaks in the finish, and thinning is required to alleviate this. There are no such problems with Aussie Oil. In addition, Aussie Oil requires no wet sanding in between the final layers to build the shine. Just keep rubbing and incremental improvements finally get you over the line.

The only negative to my mind is that it takes a lot of elbow grease to apply the polishing stages. But hey, no pain, no gain right? All in all, I'm very happy with the results I achieved with my test piece of pine, and am planning to try this oil on a real guitar body some time in the future.