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Original Post By: Guest_Pete Date: 12/4/2005
I read a thread here that tung oil was used. I can't find tru-oil in my neck of the woods but there is tung oil. Please tell me what are the pros and cons to use tung oil to finish a uke please. Thanks.
Posted By: Guest_Tru Date: 12/4/2005
Woodcraft carries Tru-oil if there is a woodcraft store neer you.
Posted By: Guest_Bernie Date: 12/4/2005
Any store that carries guns should have Tru Oil. Sporting goods stores will have it.
Posted By: Guest_Mickey Maguire Date: 12/4/2005
Walmart carries Tru-Oil in their hunting section with their cleaning supplies.
Posted By: Guest_Joe Date: 12/4/2005
If you use Tung oil make sure it is 100% and not a mixture.
Posted By: Guest_Diesel Date: 12/4/2005
I know folks like tung oil, but I am still leary of it for the simple reason that it is an oil and what oil does on wood is soak in and stay. As the whole purpose of a soundboard is to vibrate - all other things being equal to the task; a badly made soundboard/uke will not be substatially worse for being oiled - if you oil it, the pores will be filled with what amounts to a deadening substance. Just seems to me this is a bad thing; like a heavy poly finish. Of course, the question is can it be heard? My ear isn't always nuanced enough to pick up differences that other folks get right off the bat (though I'd love to experience perfect pitch for an hour or so, just to get a feel for it), but if its there, its there, just not for me.
Posted By: Guest_Doug Date: 12/4/2005
If you use Tung oil it will dry more slowly, and have a dull sheen unless you apply quite a few coats, and its also quite soft. Tru Oil is a "polymerized" oil (linseed I believe) that dries much faster to a hard gloss. I don't think either of these are the best finishes for instruments, but opinions differ, and they're easy to apply. You could also use a wiping varnish like Waterlox, Val-oil, Zar, or Formby's "Tung Oil Finish," but they may not be too easy to find either. Waterlox is based on tung oil, and you can buy a small amount from Woodcraft for $4.50, probably enough for a uke, especially if you thin it a little.
Posted By: Guest_Dominator Date: 12/4/2005
Joe, I have to disagree with you on this one. If you use 100% tung oil (which is hard to find)then you will never achieve a finish that will provide any protection. Many of the products that say 100% tung oil actually aren't. To provide some protection you would use the aforementioned Formby's product or "Tung Oil Finish" by Minwax which is a blend of tung oil and varnish. I agree that I don't think it is the best finish for an instrument but if applied correctly and aloud to cure properly it should be adequate.

There were some instruments with a Tru Oil finish at UGH and they looked beautiful and seemed to sound just fine. I am going to try Tru Oil on my next one.
Posted By: Guest_Diesel Date: 12/4/2005
Its a surface treatment then? That is, it doesn't soak in beyond the extent that any finish bonds with the wood? Might be interesting to try it on a beater. Wonder what would happen if you used it just enough to 'wet' the wood, and then applied a light finish on it? I am guessing the finish wouldn't set because of the microscopic oil layer - no adhesion possible - but it it could dry or even be just slightly below the surface, would the oil base make the grain stand out even more than plain varnish alone? We've all seen what wood looks like dry and then misted to bring out the grain. Thats what I'm thinking of.
Posted By: Guest_Doug Date: 12/4/2005
Yes, Diesel, Tru-Oil is really more like a varnish blend than a straight oil, and it dries quickly so the penetration is shallow.
Posted By: Guest_Doug Date: 12/4/2005
Oh, in a previous post (about glues really) Rick Turner said they use a couple coats of Zar under the final finish on their ukes, and that's about the same thing as your idea. Tru-oil would be a lot like a wiping varnish. It cures hard.
Posted By: Guest_Joe Date: 12/4/2005
This will turn out interesting. Pure Tung Oil actually is a polymerizing oil used for centuries. It can be argued about the quality of mixing it with varnishes, etc. and also about penetration, but dried properly it is a pretty darn good finish. Easily repaired and water resistant. Also, you can eat off it. In it's dry state it's non toxic (I know, useless bit of information). Hard to find, but a good alternative.
Posted By: Guest_Mickey Maguire Date: 12/4/2005
I said once before that I am no luthier, but, I used to refinish musical instruments quite a bit. I used Tru-oil with great success. I also built a lot of blackpowder rifles, which is how I discovered Tru-oil in the beginning.

When I first tried it on anything of a musical nature, I built a PA system with another guy and we made what most people thought were "Community PA" speakers. We finished them with Tru-oil. They were beautiful. They sounded great.

Well, my first attempted musical instrument using Tru-oil was an old Gretsch "Electromatic" arch-top with curly maple back and sides that turned out fantastic. I did a lot of vintage restorations (finish and setup, no woodwork), I used Tru-oil on all of them from that point onward. Before that, I used Zar.

I used Zar on furniture since highschool. It was great on clocks and tables. I was nice on musical instruments, but, it muted the instrument just a tiny bit.

Posted By: Guest_Pete Date: 12/4/2005
Thanks uke community. I will check out woodcraft on-line, none in this area. Will call Wal-Mart 80 miles away if they carry any tru-oil too. But bottom line, it seems tung is okay for a finish although it may affect the tone. Thanks again.
Posted By: Guest_Joe Date: 12/4/2005
Yes, Pete. It seems most prefer not to be slipped the tung.
Posted By: Guest_Anton Date: 12/5/2005
I use pure Tung oil on my fret board. A very light sparing wipe of oil brought out the old black lustre, and since it's absorbed I think it will help with any shrinkage around the frets. The closest to oil that I've used on the body of my ukulele is a bit of Murphy's Oil Soap.

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