View Full Version : From Satin to Gloss - .20 cents....EASY Job!

11-01-2017, 07:02 AM
I have three Pono ukes. Two are gloss. The satin tenor just looked pale and kind of naked next to them. Unfinished compared to its more sophisticated brethren. The gloss versions gloated at their less expensive little brother when we walked by. Hmmm. Unpleasant.

Bought a bottle of Tru-Oil for $6.00. Looked at some Youtube vids and here are the results. Very easy and satisfying as well.

From now on if I have a choice between the more expensive gloss version and its satin counterpart, I'll go with the latter and do it myself. That $6 bottle will do maybe 30 ukes.

Here are some vids that helped:



Basic steps:
1. Clean lightly with steel wool (00000). Run with grain.
2. Light coat of Tru-Oil
3. Light steel wool
4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 till satisfied. I did this three times.
5. Final coat: mix a little mineral spirits with Tru-Oil

Mya-Moe uses Tru-Oil to finish their ukes. Works great.

11-01-2017, 08:32 AM
I like satin finishes, but out of curiosity how long did the process take? I would guess that we're paying for workers' time, not just materials on gloss-finished ukes.

11-01-2017, 08:55 AM
Can this be used to spot finish an area of an instrument?

11-01-2017, 09:46 AM
I'm no pro.

Humidity determines drying time. I waited 8 hours between coats. Total actual time to tape (used blue painters tape) around bridge, remove strings, strap holder, etc., apply coats (used small piece of blue shop paper towel), steel wool, and reassemble: estimate 30 minutes total. Mostly just waiting. Hung it to dry with a wire through tuner holes. Really easy. Just watch a few videos.

11-01-2017, 10:32 AM
Can this be used to spot finish an area of an instrument?

It probably would have to match what was used for the original finish - nitrocellulose lacquer, polyurethane, Tru-Oil, Danish Oil etc. Lots of options could have been used. I didn't buff it out in any way. Just applied and waited. Might check with manufacturer. Pono told me they use Nitrocellulose. *** CORRECTION: They David polyurethane but I think that was on gloss models. Their FAQ says nitrocellulose. Mya-Moe used Tru-Oil. You could also ask on the Tech or Luthier's forum.

11-01-2017, 12:46 PM
I've used Tru-Oil for touchup work a few times on (varnished) violin-family instruments. I'm surprised it is compatible with nitrocellulose. I would have been concerned about having too much finish on the instrument. As for a total refinish, I've done it only once (on a mandola). In that case, I totally removed its glossy nitrocellulose, because it was thick and ugly and had some gouges that I thought were down into the wood but actually weren't, as it turned out. I then put on just a super-thin finish of something off the shelf by Minwax, just to protect the wood. It's pretty matte now, but both looks and sounds noticeably better. My Pono ukes are both glossy. It just happened that I found nice deals on used ones that happened to be that way. I do think glossy (or at least satin) is a better finish for bringing out nice wood grain, but if it's plain looking grain, then I have no preference.