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Thread: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

  1. #1

    Default Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    Hey!

    I've been doing a lot of research on laying down a Tru-Oil finish, but wanted to get your take on how to apply a wash coat of shellac. Having never worked with it, I would really appreciate a detailed step-by-step..

    I'll be using ColorTone grain filler and Behlen stain on the neck.

  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    What wood are you finishing?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    Spruce top, walnut sides, and mahogany neck

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    OK, that explains the grain filler.
    After the filler is applied and dried, I would spray two very light coats of 2lb cut shellac (approximately 2lb cut, I only measure sometimes), let that dry, lightly scuff sand with about 400 grit, then start rubbing on the TO. I tried this for the first time a few years ago and learned that the first few coats of TO should be rubbed out smooth and left to cure. Later coats, I do the "rub it on, rub it off" method where one applies the thin coat of TO then rubs it all off with a clean, soft, lint-free rag (old T-shirt). Repeat until satisfied with the results. I often finish by rubbing with Novus2.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    Prep is everything. I absolutely do very close to the same thing as Sunburst. Its important that the light sanding actually be light (light pressure) or the shellac will load up and cause surface scratches. 400 grit is the best to balance between getting a lock of the finish and avoiding visible scratches. I use microfiber cloth damp with naptha to clean the scuffed surface and inspect that I've adequately addressed the surface after the naptha dries under multiple light sources from different angles. I make sure that all of the naptha has evaporated away by letting the instrument sit for a few hours. I've found that TruOil and other finishes like it work better in low humidity and waiting for the full recommended period or a bit longer between applications.

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    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    ....learned that the first few coats of TO should be rubbed out smooth and left to cure. Later coats, I do the "rub it on, rub it off" method where one applies the thin coat of TO then rubs it all off with a clean, soft, lint-free rag (old T-shirt). Repeat until satisfied with the results...
    I could not agree more -- it makes the whole finishing so much quicker and better!
    Bernie
    ____
    Due to current budgetary restrictions the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off -- sorry about the inconvenience.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    Thanks guys I a really appreciate the responses! I do not have access to spray equipment (one of the reason I'm going TO) so is there a recommended process for applying it by hand? And will shellac flakes from LMII be sufficient?

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    Quote Originally Posted by hawthorn1213 View Post
    ...I do not have access to spray equipment (one of the reason I'm going TO) so is there a recommended process for applying it by hand? And will shellac flakes from LMII be sufficient?
    I assume there are good ways of applying a shellac sealer without spray equipment, but since I'm better at spraying than any other finish method it's my go-to procedure. If you can avoid smearing your stain and filler, you can rub/FP shellac. Hopefully others will provide some info.
    Shellac from LMI should be fine.

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    Registered User Drew Streip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    I assume there are good ways of applying a shellac sealer without spray equipment, but since I'm better at spraying than any other finish method it's my go-to procedure. If you can avoid smearing your stain and filler, you can rub/FP shellac. Hopefully others will provide some info.
    Shellac from LMI should be fine.
    Is the Behlenís stain alcohol-based? If so: Whether you spray or hand-rub, youíll have to take care not to smudge the stain. I donít like using water-based dyes in general, but as shellac is my preferred sealer and finish, I may have to get used to them.

    I have done a tru-oil-over-French polish finish and once I had the FP to an acceptable level, it was pretty easy and forgiving. I started like John did with a few build coats of TO, then applied several more very thin wipe-on/wipe-off coats. I just used a blue shop towel for application. I also used a gray scotch-Brite pad to scuff and level between coats if I had any little dust nibs.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Streip View Post
    Is the Behlen’s stain alcohol-based?
    It's a water based stain.

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    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    Just out of curiosity, what's the purpose of the shellac in this instance? Tru-Oil makes a great sealer itself and is less likely to disturb dye than shellac is.

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    Registered User Drew Streip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    Quote Originally Posted by amowry View Post
    Just out of curiosity, what's the purpose of the shellac in this instance? Tru-Oil makes a great sealer itself and is less likely to disturb dye than shellac is.
    (sorry for the accidental hijack)

    In my case, it was basically a do-over / afterthought / experiment -- I was decently pleased with my thin shellac finish but ended up wanting a tougher topcoat. If I were to do it again, I'd pick one or the other. (I did some testing on a bedside table and was happy with how moisture-resistant the Tru-Oil was. It didn't appear to change the sheen or color of the previous shellac finish, so I felt pretty confident doing it on an instrument.)

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  14. #13

    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    Quote Originally Posted by amowry View Post
    Just out of curiosity, what's the purpose of the shellac in this instance? Tru-Oil makes a great sealer itself and is less likely to disturb dye than shellac is.
    I want to prevent the Tru-Oil from soaking too deep into the wood and dampening the top plate.

  15. #14

    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    I have taken a few test pieces finished with TO and cut them in half to look for any penetration into the wood, on spruce and maple, and found no indication of it going into the wood at all.

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    Quote Originally Posted by amowry View Post
    Just out of curiosity, what's the purpose of the shellac in this instance? Tru-Oil makes a great sealer itself and is less likely to disturb dye than shellac is.
    Not "this instance", but for me the shellac sealer is to stabilize my dyes before scraping the bindings so that I don't smudge color around while handling and scraping the instrument. Perhaps I could do that with Tru-Oil, I've never thought of it.

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    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Preparing for a Tru-Oil Finish

    Yeah, I've had good luck with it as a sealer--one of things I like about Tru-Oil is that it doesn't disturb Transtint much when you wipe it on, and other finishes on top of it don't redissolve it, so it works well for sealing binding, especially inside the scrolls where it's so easy to move the dye back onto the binding when you brush shellac, lacquer, etc. in there.

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