View Full Version : Another tru-oil question

12-02-2011, 11:06 AM
I know there have been other tru-oil threads, but the search feature here leaves something to be desired.;) Please forgive me.

I'm about to finish my second uke using tru-oil and I have just a couple questions about it.
Is it possible to get a filled-pour finish only using the tru-oil, or do I have to fill it first with something else?
Also, is it ok to use a thin coat of tru oil on the fretboard, or is there something else I should be using?

Somewhere recently I saw on the web a very detailed instruction on tru-oil being applied to a uke, but I'll be damned if I can't find it now.

Thank you in advance,


12-02-2011, 12:22 PM
The company that makes Tru-Oil also makes a complementary pore filler. I tried it and didn't like it. After five coats, the pores still were not completely filled. Use lemon oil on the fretboard.

12-02-2011, 02:09 PM
Thank you for the advice!

Vic D
12-02-2011, 02:43 PM
I've been using lemon oil for fretboards and it does a nice job but it doesn't seem to last. Maybe after a few applications it does, I dunno I haven't kept a uke long enough to find out but a uke with a Honduras rosewood fretboard that came back to me for repair had a dry fretboard. I think I'll keep using it and ship a small bottle of it to peeps who purchase my ukes so they can refresh the fretboard when it needs it.

And when I say uke I mean the small instrument with four strings that originated in Hawaii... not the ninja attacker about to throw a punch at me from behind... Ayah! Timing is everything...

12-02-2011, 03:00 PM
Oil finishes won't fill open pored woods without a tremendous amount of work.

There are tons of pore fill methods, and TruOil should go over pretty much all of them. Just start doing a little research, see what apeals to you and run a few test boards before you do it on your uke.

Most of your work should now be prep & fill - you'll need fewer coats of oil.

For fretboards, try this:


It also will need refreshing, but lasts longer and does a better job than lemon.

You could put down one very thin coat of TruOil on the fretboard. The Fret Doctor will penetrate through a light coat later when you need it, but it will take a little longer. With this method, your freshen-ups will come about less often.

Vic D
12-02-2011, 03:14 PM
Thanks Southcoast Ukes... that's the name I was trying to remember... Fret Doctor. That's the stuff to use from what I've read. I'll be snatching up a bottle.

12-02-2011, 03:19 PM
I've made that search too. Most recommended filling the pores with epoxy.

12-03-2011, 12:52 AM
I've posted on this before, but OK - here's a refresher based on our own experience with tru-oil.

Here are the two methods we've used:

1) Seal the pores first with shellac - you don't need much, I just wipe on a couple coats. Fill the pores just with tru-oil by pushing it into the pores with your finger. Don't worry about getting a perfectly smooth, even coat all over, concentrate on getting it into the pores. Let dry, sand down till you see the pores as little shiny spots in the wood, repeat, repeat, repeat.... until done. When the pores are filled, allow some time to cure and then finish with tru-oil over the entire surface. If you see indentations, you've still got a ways to go with filling the pores. When all is flat and smooth, finish with tru-oil. The problem here is that after some time the oil in the pores can still sink down and you'll get slight indentations in the finish. You can fill these with more tru-oil, but it is a PITA when the instrument is already finished.

2) Seal with shellac. Then apply the tru-oil to a small area and use a sanding pad to work up a slurry with the tru-oil and the sanding dust. Keep pushing the slurry into the pores. Let dry, sand smooth, repeat until done. This method is much quicker and we haven't had it sink down - at least not nearly as much. BUT, depending on the wood the slurry in the pores can give it a slightly muddy look, especially if the pores are big and the grain has a lot of contrast and/or figure. When all is flat and smooth, finish with tru-oil over the entire surface.

Hope this helps,

Greetings to all from Buenos Aires

12-03-2011, 02:23 AM
Great advice from everyone. Thank you!
Erich, I do have some shellac, so I will do some tests with that this weekend.
I've also purchased some Behlen brand fretboard oil from a local Woodcraft store, so I will give that a try.
I will post pics when I'm done.
Thanks again!

12-03-2011, 04:42 AM
My first two coats often include a litte sanding back and I leave the sanding dust on the instrument so it combines with the tru oil. it is a simplification of William King's slurry method. Lemon oil is great for the fretboard and it is also good after the tru oil to polish everything up and clean up the shop dust.

Michael N.
12-03-2011, 07:07 AM
You can use the Tru Oil to fill pores but you will have to use the wet sand method. Probably takes 2 to 3 applications with drying time in between. The drying/sinking time can be quite lengthy. For most woods it works very well and gives a 'natural' look to the pore fill.