View Full Version : Liberon Finishing Oil or Liberon Superior Danish Oil?

09-21-2017, 11:14 PM
Given that the price of an 8 oz bottle of Birchwood Casey Tru-oil has now reached over 18 in the UK, I'm thinking of switching to something a little more wallet friendly!
I know some makers have used the Liberon products mentioned above, but grateful for suggestions on which one might be better suited to a musical instrument? The only difference I can glean from the manufacturers website is that "Superior Danish" contains Tung oil, whereas no equivalent claim is made for finishing oil. Other than that they both seem to serve the same purpose.

Michael N.
09-22-2017, 06:43 AM
Liberon finishing oil contains tung oil too, distinctive smell. Personally I prefer the Tru oil. I'm not sure the liberon is any cheaper. It contains quite a bit more solvent than Tru oil. When you factor the actual cost per instrument it's pretty insignificant. The liberon is a touch harder than Tru oil though.

09-22-2017, 07:09 AM
Hi Paul, hope you don't mind sidetracking but Crimson Guitars do an oil which they claim is like Tru-oil. Haven't a clue what it's like, but probably worth checking out.

09-22-2017, 10:15 AM
Try this one http://community.renovate.com/post/Wood-Finishing-Home-Made-Danish-Oil-and-How-to-Apply-It

09-22-2017, 11:18 AM
Or, you could just use Shellac, easy to apply and gives a pretty durable finish which is easy to maintain.

09-22-2017, 11:25 AM
Thanks everyone.

Michael - I guess my perception of the relative expense of tru-oil is coloured by the amount I end up throwing away after a few months. It's akin to the mustard scenario where Colmans made their money from the amount left on the plate (not from my plate though - I love the stuff). I store it (the tru-oil, not the mustard) in concertina bottles with all the air expelled before sealing the cap, but over time it still thickens to the point I would rather not use it. Having said that I am currently experimenting by diluting some 6 month old thickened oil with white spirit. I'll try it on some scrap, but not sure I would use it on an instrument as I don't know what causes the oil to thicken, and whether its properties have been adversely affected. Interesting that both Liberon products have tung oil in them - you wonder why they bother producing both varieties!

Mike - any excuse to watch another Ben Crowe video! I may well try a bottle, particularly if the claims about shelf life prove to be true.

Ken - nice idea but not sure I would trust a home brew on an instrument. I was put off home brewed concoctions a long long time ago when a schoolmate of mine who worked weekends in an old time chemists shop decided to brew his own model aero engine fuel. Concluding that since a percentage of nitro methane was a good thing, then twice as much would be better still, he very briefly had the fastest combat wing in town ...

Michael N.
09-22-2017, 07:39 PM
My first couple of bottles of Tru oil (small bottle) turned to a gooey mass within 8 or 9 months of opening the bottle. I then started to store the bottles sat on their lids (upside down), that seemed to double the shelf life, perhaps a touch longer. It's the driers that they add, once O2 gets to it the reaction triggers but without the driers the drying time once put on an instrument would be considerably longer. The liberon stuff does seem to have a much longer shelf life but it's extremely solvent heavy.

09-22-2017, 07:57 PM
Or, you could just use Shellac, easy to apply and gives a pretty durable finish which is easy to maintain.

Right on! Pretty much said it all. (I'm a Big Shellac Supporter by the way). Can people in the UK still get shellac since they voted themselves out of the EU? Only time will tell...

09-22-2017, 11:36 PM
Thanks again Michael. Out of interest I've asked Liberon for their recommendation, but in the meantime I've ordered some of the Crimson Guitars stuff and I'll see how the thinned tru-oil works on a test piece.

Sequoia - we do have Shellac in the UK, but not usually found in DIY superstores, or in the form of spray cans as I gather it is in the States. I make my own from Liberon dewaxed shellac flakes dissolved in meths (alcohol) and use it extensively both to protect softwood soundboards during the construction process, and as a seal coat between epoxy grain fill and the oil finish. I find it clogs abrasive paper too easily (even stearate coated finishing papers) to want to use it as a final finish. Also I get really good results from oil, so there isn't much of a driver to switch products or learn to French polish. Barring French polish, I've tried pretty well every other finish there is on over 40 instruments, and oil is the one for me :)

Michael N.
09-23-2017, 12:05 AM
Right on! Pretty much said it all. (I'm a Big Shellac Supporter by the way). Can people in the UK still get shellac since they voted themselves out of the EU? Only time will tell...

There may be other consequences but shortage of shellac will not be one. I think that most of the less refined grades come from India anyway. Germany is a big producer of the refined processed grades. I actually buy mine from the US because some rare light coloured button lacs available. Never come across it in Europe.
I don't know but the crimson guitar stuff is likely to be just rebranded/repackaged stuff. It will be interesting to know whether it's linseed based or tung oil based. Most modern wiping oil finishes are tung oil based and how dilute it is. Tru oil is rare in that it's linseed oil based.

09-23-2017, 12:59 AM
Thanks everyone.

Mike - any excuse to watch another Ben Crowe video! I may well try a bottle, particularly if the claims about shelf life prove to be true.

Paul, sigh! Let me know how you get on with it. Sigh!

Michael N.
09-23-2017, 02:43 AM

I think this is the MSDS Sheet for the product. Note that it actually linseed oil with driers added. Just as a suggestion, price straight linseed oil from your local hardware and consider using something like pure turpentine as the drying medium. Sometimes the recipe is on the linseed oil bottle. For foodsafe linseed oil, IE oil is safe enough to eat, look at flaxseed oil in your local food shop. Flaxseed oil and linseed oil are both from the same process except one has been made safe to drink or eat.
In art shops you can also find stuff called lamp oil which is linseed oil that is like honey and has been cooked a bit. You will find several versions of linseed oil, pure, pale, boiled. Each has been moved along the drying process a bit. Lamp oil dries fastest usually.
Stuff called cabinet makers wax is something else to research. It is made from bees wax, carnauba wax, linseed oil and pure turpentine. You seal the wood with say two coats of shellac, and rub on the wax paste with 00000 steel wool and it finishes the wood with a waxy sheen. A good finish for those who like to polish the uke all the time.
Pure turpentine is made from trees, and has a reasonably nice cedar sort of smell, its not safe to drink and it has hazards, perhaps not the same hazards as other driers though. It is not odourless chemical paint stripper in a bottle marked turpentine.

Careful. Tru oil isn't just linseed oil. It's the 'modified oil' bit in that MSDS that is the important bit. That could refer to a number of things but I suspect it's referring to a resin - perhaps an alkyd resin, a relatively modern synthetic resin derived from oils. Tru oil just doesn't act as though it's a drying oil by itself.
This is another that may be useful as an instrument finish, although I haven't tried it myself. It's 60% alkyd resin, 40% linseed oil - which makes it what is known as a short oil varnish. The higher the resin content the harder and more brittle the varnish. There's a balance to be had in the ratio though. Too hard and they have a tendency to crack. Too soft is easily marred. I suspect Tru oil is a little softer than this finish.


09-23-2017, 03:17 AM
It will be interesting to know whether it's linseed based or tung oil based. Most modern wiping oil finishes are tung oil based and how dilute it is. Tru oil is rare in that it's linseed oil based.

Ben does say it has been formulated to his requirements, and whatever the origin you know you are buying a proven instrument finish. If it isn't on the tin, then sadly I doubt my advancing anosmia will allow me to identify the constituents :(.

09-23-2017, 04:27 AM
Let me know how you get on with it. Sigh!

Will do Mike, though it may be a while, as I've just found a bottle of what looks to be useable Tru-oil lurking at the back of the drawer!

09-23-2017, 06:05 AM
Preserving finishing oils is possible. There are a variety of products around that come in spray cans, commonly called "purge" gasses. Here's one that uses Argon, which is an inert gas http://www.bloxygen.com/ (no endorsement). The idea is that every time you use some Tru-oil you leave the bottle with less oil in it -- and more oxygen and moisture from atmospheric air. That very slowly starts to cure the Tru-oil even when well capped. If you shoot some argon into the bottle -- displacing the air -- before capping it, you're putting an inert blanket of gas on top of the oil, eliminating the reaction. If you really want to keep the stuff around for a longish time, decant it into a glass bottle (plastic is not a totally effective barrier), shoot in some Argon and store it in the refrigerator (colder equals slower chemical reaction). Warm before using.

One can of purge gas may well last you a lifetime, so it's a cheap solution. You can use the same approach to preserve anything that relies upon oxygen and/or moisture to cure -- like plain old paint.

09-23-2017, 09:37 AM
That's a really interesting idea Robert. The Bloxygen is prohibitively expensive in the UK (42/$57 delivered from Amazon vs $12 in the USA) but a quick google reveals other purge gas aerosol products available in the UK at more reasonable cost.

Ken Franklin
09-23-2017, 11:47 PM
Just add some marbles to the tru-oil. Better yet, use General Finishes Arm-R-Seal.

09-26-2017, 10:53 AM
All my ukes are Liberon Superior Danish Oil finish.

See on my blog
my latest Pineapple Tenor koa back and sides, mapple top ukulele.



09-26-2017, 11:40 AM
Beautiful uke - thanks for the recommendation Gerard. I've gone down the Crimson Guitars finishing oil route for now, but depending on how that goes Danish oil will be next on the list.

Mike - the Tru-oil I found failed to dry properly, so it's gone in the bin. I have two baritones awaiting the delivery from Crimson, so will let you know how I get on with it.

Ken - thanks for the suggestion, but sadly Arm-R-Seal isn't listed on the General Finishes Europe/UK website, and is an absolutely crazy price imported via Amazon, as for that matter is Minwax satin poly. I've used Minwax in the past, and liked it a lot, but I only managed to get it I think because of an advertisers mistake with postage costs on an Amazon listing. Like the Arm-R-Seal, it basically isn't available in the UK.

Pete Howlett
09-26-2017, 01:11 PM
Ben Crowe is an enigma... the fact that he reverse engineered `Tru-Oil' to work out its formulation, copied it with a lsight tweek then called it 'to his formulation' is stretching it a bit. I suspect his secret ingredient is Snake Oil...

Second, deploying it as a 'durable finish', superior to to others is commendable salesmanship. It doesn't alter the fact it's an amateur finish that may be suited for the electric guitars he builds, though I suspect not. It will need to 'maintained' every six months which I think is a total cop-out. Either your instrument is done or it's not. You need to come across for a masterclass in a simple but far more durable finish than that oil Paul.

I start a grain fill tomoorow and will be putting the ukulele in a box Firday week. The finish is simple and effective, a traditional organic formulation that is easy to manipulate. You gotta come to the workshop to find out how to do it though.

Post Script
Ben's jaw dropping use of an angle grinder to shape a neck is truly a sight to behold. Watch it in the recently documented 6 hour electric guitar build on his YouTube channel. Fantastic. In fact the whole 6 hours is mesmerising, sometimes chaotic, occasionally down right unsafe but hey, this is Ben Crowe... and that is Crimson Guitars. I always look with one eye at someone who professes themself a master luthier. Tom Ziegenspeck is a master luthier.; his university citation says as much. You gonna call yourself a 'master luthier' show us your master's degree certificate! :)

09-26-2017, 11:26 PM
Hi Pete. Well, its a nice time of year for a trip over the Nant Gwynant, plus I have a couple of instruments to show you, so sounds like a plan. I'll be in touch.