Opinions on Linseed Oil

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Michael Baresi
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Opinions on Linseed Oil

Post by Michael Baresi »

I use lots of linseed oil around my studio since I do a lot of canvas painting.
Its cheap and readily available but is it a good finish for guitars?
I assume that it will not be long lasting.?
Will it dampen sound?
Will it protect?
Does anyone have prior experience with long term results?
thanks
Mike

Chris Reed
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Re: Opinions on Linseed Oil

Post by Chris Reed »

I used it (boiled linseed oil, not raw) on the first uke I made, about 4 years ago. It had a pleasant satin sheen to start with, though it smelt of the oil for several months. Now, it is very dull-looking, and still fairly soft (a solid surface, but easily marked with a fingernail).

But, I had no real idea what I was doing - I think this was 4 coats, with the excess wiped off so it was only damp each time, and that might have been too thick or not long enough between coats or ... who knows?

Tru-Oil, or some wiping varnish which sets harder and shinier like Danish Oil, is almost certainly a better bet.

Nick Middleton
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Re: Opinions on Linseed Oil

Post by Nick Middleton »

I have not tried it on a body, but it does make a great finish on rosewood and ebony fingerboards.

Chuck Tweedy
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Re: Opinions on Linseed Oil

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

Walnut oil is another option - but really only for things like FB's. Not as a full body finish.
Likes to drink Rosewood Juice

Alan Carruth
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Re: Opinions on Linseed Oil

Post by Alan Carruth »

Several years ago Martin Schleske did some very careful experiments on this. Basically, drying oils are not 'finishes', since they don't form a continuous water proof seal. The low molecular weight fractions of the oil can soak in very deeply (linseed can go right through a curly maple violin rib a millimeter or more thick) before they oxidize. That adds a lot of mass. Finally, oils do add a lot of damping. A very small amount of oil, say, under a French polish finish on the back and sides might not be too bad, and can enhance the look. I would avoid it on a top.

Steve Senseney
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Re: Opinions on Linseed Oil

Post by Steve Senseney »

Regarding the oil with French polishing--If you use mineral oil, it eventually vaporizes and disappears. Other oils, such as olive oil or walnut oil may oxidize in the wood and remain, but I am not sure.

The amount of oil used with French polishing is not very much.

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Michael Baresi
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Re: Opinions on Linseed Oil

Post by Michael Baresi »

Lots of good info.
Thanks to those that replied.
I think I'll try the Tru oil

Keith Howell
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Re: Opinions on Linseed Oil

Post by Keith Howell »

Used it on cricket bats many times and is perfect for that use. However I would not even consider using it on an instrument. It always stays slightly soft and flexible, a required attribute for a bat and over years darkens considerably!

The crack of a leather ball on willow is certainly music to my ears but not on a guitar!

Alan Carruth
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Re: Opinions on Linseed Oil

Post by Alan Carruth »

Steve Senseny wrote:
"The amount of oil used with French polishing is not very much."

Guitar makers normally only use a small amount of oil, either mixed in with the shellac or applied to the pad near the end of the process. The old French furniture makers method, as detailed in 'Fine Woodworking' some years ago, was to flood the wood surface with oil and wipe off as much as possible before starting in with the shellac. This would probably leave a lot more oil in the wood than we normally do.

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