I have a couple of questions for those of you that have used Tung Oil on struments finishes, please.

Is TO a suitable finish for a raw mahogony neck? If so, would it be best to use grain-filler prior to finishing or would the coats build up fast enough (without Gr/fill) to give a smooth finish?

If so, how many coats would be necessary to accomplish a lasting finish?

I am just weighing options and thinking ahead, for a change...Ha!


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Hey ROD-- go to   and click on articles and tutorials -- from there click on tips du jour videos -

from there scroll down to Tru Oil and there you will get any answer you have about finishing you will need..

Best to you in your search--

Peace, Donald

Is Tung Oil and Tru Oil the same thing?

Don't think so. Tung oil is a very old method of treating/finishing wooden surfaces and is Chinese in origin. I've not used it but I think it dries much more quickly then tru oil leaving a plastic glossy finish. Whereas tru oil is slightly more muted and matt.


HI Steve,

It the other way around, Tung oil doesn't dry by evaporation , it auto-oxidises to a thin hardened finish over time with a dull satin patina which can be buffed to a satin finish if required.  It is a time proven durable and repairable finish suitable for most woods and other applications.  Tung oil is 100% tung and is usually applied with d-limonene (note, my auto spell checker got me in the following post -its not a limousine!)  or at a pinch, turpentine.  

Tru-oil is a fast "drying" commercial gunstock finish which introduces chemical dryers to a mix of 56% mineral paint thinners, 33% oil varnish and only 11% linseed or Tung oil.  It is popular with do it yourself and professionals alike because of its ease of application (wipe on/spray bomb) and good results.   But, it has very little in common with a Tung oil finish.

One is a drying varnish, the other is a pure oil finish.  Both look good.


Thanks for that Rusty. Always glad to learn something new.


Thanks Rusty and all for some 'tutorial' advice and 'clarification'. I have used Tru-oil on a maple block that I was very happy with (result-wise) ....I have used Tru-oil on Cigar Box guitar necks of poplar and oak. With that , I was not looking for 'perfection'....only a 'finished wood' look!

I see in my catalog, a Behlens Tung Oil by the quart.

It is interesting to learn, Rusty, that they are essentially two different animals (not surprising, however)!

For a cheap kit-build that a friend is putting togather...The wipe on Poly that Frank Capo mentions ,sounds like an easier alternative for this 'project'....

Also thanks, Donald. I will investigate the site that you referenced also!!

Greetings, Retro.

We have a propriety tung oil finishing schedule for one of our mahogany finish options.  It's designed to develop a aged look/patina fairly quickly while still protecting the body in the long term and providing easy repair to damage if desirable.  It's pure tung oil with citric turpine (d-limousine) as a carriage medium which goes over dyes.

But we do not use it for necks as it is totally inadequate in protecting or conditioning this high use area.  We grainfill and use matte nitro over gloss build (no sealer here) and this blends into the Tung oil finish fairly well while providing a good feel and protected, easily cleaned surface.  Tung oil should not be applied thick enough to grain fill - multiple thinned coats are the go with some time between for oxidizing and skinning.  

True oil and other such polymerizing/ hardening wipe-on finishes are not pure tung oil and are therefore different kettles of fish.


As an alternative for a quick and durable finish you may consider using wipe on polyurethane. I had very pleasing results using a wipe on poly finish on a raw mahogany neck (for an old duolian).

I believe from previous discussions, that what you guys in the USA get as Tung Oil may not always be pure Tung oil so read the label.

I am, more and more, starting to understand 'that'.... from the info here. Thanks, Jeff!

Tru-oil seems to be the 'standard' for gunstock finishing in 'these parts'...It has done a decent and simple job for me on the applications that I have used it on in the past.....never used on mahogany or musical instruments other than CBG's, however.

Any experience with Behlen products?

Hi Rod.

This may or may not help you out with your decision, here's the "CAVEAT" from Warmoth's website:

"Other Neck Finish Info: To Finish or Not to Finish?

All our necks are dipped in an oil based penetrating sealer which is compatible with virtually all secondary finishes. This provides enhanced stability; however, it is not adequate protection for playing. We strongly recommend you apply a hard finish to all Maple, Mahogany, Walnut, Korina, and Koa necks. Oils do not validate our warranty requirements. We understand the attraction of raw or lightly oiled necks. They feel fast and are not sticky. Unfortunately, they are much more susceptible to moisture related warping and twisting. Our experience is that hard finished necks seldom warp. Raw or oiled necks don't fare as well. About 10% are rendered useless from the torture. The more acidic your perspiration, the higher the odds are against you.

If you must play a raw neck, that's cool; it's ok. A neck is just a tool. Just be aware of the risk.

For a valid warranty, a hard finish must be sufficiently thick to completely cover the wood. That means no wood is exposed and you are actually playing on the finish, not the wood. Now, it does not matter to us who applies the finish. Of course we would like to do the finish for you, but if you choose to do it yourself or have it done elsewhere the warranty is still valid."

Essentially... no hard finish; the warranty is void.

Have a good one :)

Im not sure pure tung oil would make a great neck finish, at least in a reasonable amount of time. In any case using it alone to achieve a grain filled surface would take a long, long time, and a butload of work. You can buy a good brand of polymerized tung oil finish, which I think could be used to achieve a grain filled finish by wet sanding the wood with it as you apply coats. Ive not done this though. Also polymerized (heat treated) tung oil will build a film faster and to a gloss finish as opposed to satin. I think for a neck Id use polymerized tung oil over raw tung oil. Or tru oil.


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