View Full Version : Shiny Tru-Oil finish

04-15-2018, 10:58 AM
Mankind loves shiny objects. It always has. Even the earliest graves of cave men show they collected things like shiny shells. While there are those out there who like a more satin or perhaps a more 'natural' finish, I find that I like, and my customers (by and large) like, a smooth shiny instrument. So it is in this tradition that I have endeavored to create a shiny ukulele with Tru-Oil as I do not have, nor anticipate having, and sort of spray gear. I think I have been reasonably successful at creating a nice shiny finish.

I do not however follow the 'usual' Tru-Oil application methods but I can achieve a very shiny result, that is still very very thin.

The discussion is too big to fit comfortably here, so I have created a public PDF of my techniques at:


04-15-2018, 04:30 PM
I used Tru oil for a while but found it not to my liking. I now use shellac and am totally happy with my results. I have never understood the desire for so many builders to want their wood to look like glass or plastic.

04-15-2018, 04:47 PM
Thanks for a very interesting post and well done.... I question myself all the time about this pursuit of the shiny uke, but gosh darnit, it gives me a deep pleasure so I do it. There are several problems with the finished product that constantly make me scratch my head though. It shows imperfections (and goodness knows we all get imperfections), it shows scratches after playing, it is a pain to produce, but most of all it can intimidate people and they treat the instrument with such reverence (don't touch it! you might scratch it!) that the instrument never gets played.

I love the expression "chasing the shine". Never heard that one but I know the pursuit only too well. Just when I think I got it beat, there are those little shiny spots after a level sand attempt. Heavy sigh.... Yes I love the Buflex stuff because I hate wet sanding. Buflex is a f***ing miracle.

04-15-2018, 09:01 PM
Tru Oil is often the finishing material of choice as it needs no special equipment and there are no real safety issues.

Mya moe ukes uses a 3 wiped coat finish: I couldn't live with that as I always felt that my instruments looked unfinished. However getting a really shiny finish isnt easy. It can be a source of real frustration: you're almost there and then you accidently scratch or ding the instrument. It takes time and patience.

So of course, it's interesting to see how you achieve your finish. The use of CA seems to be the key factor in differing from all the techniques I've tried over the last 4 years. There have been posts on the forum of makers using only CA as their finish: I dont particularly like working with CA.

DPO mentions shellac. I have been using it lately to put down a solid base for Tru Oil rather like your use of CA.

You mention that you cant really buff Tru Oil. Sometimes I obtain a reasonable finish from my final wiped coat. Sometimes if I want a really high gloss, I leave the finish a couple of weeks and then hand polish with T-Cut (used for polishing car paint).

I'm wondering if you use this technique on softwood soundboards?

Thanks for spelling out your technique: its clearly a method that works. You have made some great looking instruments.

04-16-2018, 04:05 AM
Thanks for sharing your technique!

Bob Orr
04-17-2018, 02:21 AM
Thanks for the PDF much appreciated. Bob