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Neck finish: oil or nitro?


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  • Neck finish: oil or nitro?

    Ugh. Nitro is just sooooo much work. My new, gorgeous nitro body took me a year and about half a dozen cans of spray paint to get it to look good. And that's without dealing with frets.

    And oil is so easy. Cheap, too. A few days, a few rubs, and that's it. I once finished an ash body with tung oil and got a great result - the guitar always gets compliments. Are there reasons NOT to finish a maple neck with, say, tung oil, boiled linseed, danish oil, or teak oil?


    Charlie Bernstein

    Augusta, Maine

  • #2
    To be honest, I prefer Minwax satin poly. The feel is the best and I've tried 'em all. I can't remember which one, but the first one I did has a bit of yellowing happening.


    • #3
      A Year? Something wrong there if it took more than a few days.

      As far as the neck, both oil or nitro will work, and poly for that matter.

      If its an all maple neck I suggest spray lacquer. Oil does not go on well over frets.

      I did my buddies neck awhile back and getting it to go on without a buch of brush marks

      was more trouble then just spraying on lacquer.

      The nice part about spraying a neck is you dont have to hang it.

      Just lay it on a hard flat surface and you can go with heavier coats then you

      would with a hanging body.Do the front headstock one day, then the back the second day.

      Give it a day or two to dry and you're done. If you're carefull applying the coats you dont even have to buff it.


      • #4
        WRG makes a good point. The back of the neck will get buffed by your hand.


        • #5
          Thanks! This all helps. Let's see if anyone else answers.

          And bonus question: If I go with lacquer (tempting), how do I get it off the frets? A sanding block? A notched scraper? Don't bother?


          PS - My nitro spraying is slow because:

          - I goof and fix. A lot.

          - It's humid here, and I've found out the hard way what happens when you spray when the air's too wet.

          - I don't have much time.

          A coat a day (on days I have time and humidity is 50% or less) to use six cans of paint (and at one point I waited almost six months for my hardware store to come through on the order before giving up and ordering it online, which costs a lot for shipping but at least gets here), plus a month curing before sanding and buffing...the time just flew by!

          But it's the first time I got nitro to look great. Worth it!



          • #6
            ^^^ You tape off the frets with masking tape and use super fine sand paper to remove the laquer on the frets

            after the laquer is fully cured.

            If you're having to wait a full day to apply more laquer, you're laying it on too thick.

            Any signs of it turning white is another sign of laying it on too thick.

            You're supposed to lay it on very light, single pass or two at a time from about 6".

            Shouldnt take more than 30 minutes to dry enough for another coat. Takes about

            one weekend of work tops to do a neck. The last coat can be a little thicker so you get a glossy look.

            Each new coat of laquer melts into the old coat. This is unlike other finishes that go on in separate layers

            like tree rings or layers of an onion. Each layer with laquer doesnt have to shine like high gloss. You just

            dust the layer on till you have enough on there. The first few sink into the wood and seal it. After that it builds

            up quickly. 10 or 15 thin layers is better than three thick layers because you wont have the flaws of drips you

            need to remove so theres no need to buff between layers unless there is something blatently wrong where you

            messed up touching or marring it while it was drying. Even then its not like you have to take it back down to the wood,

            just sand it smooth and continue spraying.

            Once done you can buff and polish, but honestly, you really dont have to do much of that. Just use some

            turtle wax paste and you're good to go.

            Oh, and you can use some wax on the frets before overspraying them. Just take a candle and rub it

            on the frets. "Be sure not to get any on the fretboard" Just a light rub over the fret will prevent adhesion

            and make it easire to remove the laquer. Remember, you only laquer a maple fretboard, Not a rosewood

            fretboard. If your fretboard is rosewood, just tape it off on top. Rosewood gets oiled with fretboard or lemon oil,

            laquer would seal it and since rosewood is an oily wood, laquer will quickly flake off it.


            • #7
              Good tips - thanks a lot!

              Yup. I didn't man it takes YOU a long time. I just meant that it takes ME a long time. I know I can do more than one coat (for me, that's three quick 10" passes, sometime in a breeze) per evening. I just don't end up wanting to take the time: Come home from work, go down in the basement, get the body, take it outside, spray it, air it a little, take it back down to the basement. And I don't need to - I have plenty of other guitars. It's not like my music is suffering. So I take my time.

              But the down side of my laziness is that it ends up taking a LONG time. Oil, on the other hand - I did an ash Tele in tung a while back, and it was done in two days. It looks great and was CHEAP. So I had to ask about necks.

              PS - My worst experience was the first body I nitroed. It was just too humid. The paint turned to tar. Now I don't spray if the humidity is over 50% - which here in Maine is more often than not. The dead of winter is best.