Spruce top, maple sides, oak fretboard, maple neck. 

Trying to choose a clear finish that will preserve the wood, especially the spruce top... would prefer to use the same finish on everything...


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That's pretty! I've been using Danish Oil lately. Not 100% sold yet, but it does offer some sealing and protection. It contains a varnish that soaks in with the oil and cures in the wood. 3 coats seems to work for me. Takes a day or two to fully dry/cure and you should probably buff the final product. Nice thing is you can apply it directly to frets without issue. Just wipe it clean. I've had to polish frets just a touch during setup but nothing bad. Does have a slight amber tint. My 2 cents. It's better than the lemon oil I was using.

Thanks! Shop scraps put to use, not counting the bits of exotics.

What benefits does Danish oil give over pure tung oil, other than the quicker drying time?

I guess speed is the only real benefit. If you're not in a hurry, tung oil seems superior (haven't actually used it, just looking it up). Boiled linseed oil is another option - again, if you're not in a hurry. Disadvantage there is that the linseed never totally cures. Tung can/does if you wait long enough.

Semi-unrelated, I saw a woodworking video of a guy finishing a fancy handmade chair in boiled linseed oil. I think he said there were a dozen coats or more. It was beautiful, but I'm not that patient :-)

Danish oil goes on pretty easy and I can apply a second coat in 30 minutes or so. Semi-gloss is about the best you'll do with Danish Oil. It doesn't provide a serious protective layer, but it does seal the wood, gives a nice warm look and is easily refreshed. And I could play the guitar tonight - or in the morning, worst case.

Thanks for the information.

I have a lengthy wait while the frets and tuners arrive, so perhaps I'll go with tung oil, as I do have experience with it on other hardwoods. I'll be sure to update once I find out how well it works.

And sorry, I missed this the first time. What did you not like about lemon oil? I've never used it personally, but I'm interested in what you tried it on and what you didn't like about it. One man's garbage and all... and learning from others... :)

There's nothing really "wrong" with lemon oil. It gives you some instant gratification bringing out the color and grain in the wood. A couple of coats thoroughly rubbed in with a microfiber or other cloth is a nice look. Easy to replenish too. Probably nothing better if you like the bare wood feel. If I recall correctly, you can also apply most of the other oil-based finishes over it without issue.

Downside is that it doesn't really protect the wood other than keeping it from drying out. No protective "shell" if you will. And it does evaporate over time. You'll need a fresh coat every few months depending on your climate. Nice thing is that if you're building to sell, the end user can easily apply it, readily available and cheap too.

BTW, there are no actual lemons in lemon oil. It's just mineral oil with lemon scent/color. Any mineral oil will do. You could even apply baby oil with the same effect - which is exactly what I did on my first build. Smelled like a baby's butt for weeks!

Gotcha! Makes sense, thanks!

btw lemon and orange oil are organic, pressed from the peel of lemon and sweet orange, both used as diluting and cleaning agent, not properly as a finish, but used in many of them, like linseed or tung oil and carnauba wax or beeswax based finishes.

Another rub on oil is Tru-oil.  It is used for gunstocks primarily and is very durable.  I tried it after my Tung oil ran out.  Both work great in my opinion, but tru-oil dries in a couple hours so you can add several coats per day if you want to.  Only issue is that it doesn't seem like it will last very long in the jar.  My tung oil lasted several years and finally ran out, but the tru-oil skinned over in the jar after a year.  I poked thru it and it still works ok, but this seems like I will end up loosing as much as I use - and I bought a quart which would probably do 50 builds.  And your guitar looks great!

Tur-oil is what I use and I really like it, its cheap and I use the small bottles and get about 4 or 5 guitars a bottle and its only about 8 bucks!

This is my standard go-to when I want a durable finish that protects without resorting to a polymer... http://www.swingpaints.com/product/1807/Circa-1850-Tung%27n-Teak-Oil

I like it, and after Hal's suggestion of Danish oil, I decided it to stick with it rather than going to a varnish or poly or acrylic finish... I'd never used it on a softwood, but after a coat, it seems that the spruce top is taking it quite nicely.

The single surprise is how much red it brought out in the pau ferro that I have laminated on the headstock. I did expect an amber result, but not as much as I got in that one specific wood.

I am very impressed with it on the ziricote nut, bridge and, tone knob. The richness of the grain suddenly jumped out, even after one coat.

I've used all kinds of oil finishes.. unfortunately, it's harder to get Tru-oil in CA anymore...  ugh.

Do be careful with ANY oil finish... lay out your rags flat to dry, or in a metal paint can... these things can catch fire... especially in warmer weather.

My go to?  Rub On Poly... Minwax... Dries fast, looks great without a lot of effort.

I still occasionally use a rattle can of lacquer, just don't breathe the fumes...


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