Comparing Tru-Oil wipe on to Tru-oil spray

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Review by Tennessee posted 11-07-2013 03:47 PM 13577 views 3 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Comparing Tru-Oil wipe on to Tru-oil spray Comparing Tru-Oil wipe on to Tru-oil spray No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

When I first started in guitars in 2009, I went with the traditional nitro lacquer finish route, mostly because it was easy, cheap, and about as close to old time guitars as I could get. It also came, (about two years later), with a few complaints about wear-through from my customers, as guitars are handled by human hands, bandied about, rubbed on clothing while being played, and in general take a pretty good beating.

I know that most modern guitar companies use either some sort of UV cured urethane, or catalyzed urethane, or small builders like myself polyurethanes cured in small ovens. I went the last route for two guitars, and after the usual 5-6 week cure wait which is a real pain in the toosh, began to explore better options.

Tru-oil has been used by the gunstock crowd for years, and for good reason. It is durable, is meant to be handled, provides a thin, very durable finish which can be mirror polished, dries fairly quickly, and a little goes a LONG ways. Many small instrument builders have taken a long, hard look at Tru-oil, and more than a few are making the switch, especially to the wipe-on. It is also a great finish for the pen makers. You don’t have to mask up, it is fairly low odor, a little goes a long ways, and you can build it up to a mirror finish with about 10-12 rubbed on coats. The whole process takes maybe a week in favorable weather, and no oven is required. After the last coat, sanding up to about 1500 grit, you can bring it to a mirror with Megula’s #2. Just about everything you could ask for.
I bought my first 32 oz. bottle of Tru-Oil wipe-on about a year ago, got over ten guitars out of it, and am totally satisfied.

Sooo, it was of great interest to me when I saw this product in a spray can. Now, possibly, I could reach those very hard to get at chambers and small corners that always pop up on both my guitars and also maybe in some of my jewelry boxes, and accelerate the application process overall.
I have to say, after two spray cans, I am pretty disappointed.
This obviously is not the same product.
It has a tendency to lay on top of the wood. Since you don’t wipe it on, there is no capillary action taking place with your rag forcing the Tru-oil into the top pores of the wood.
The cans, at least the two I bought, have low velocity spray nozzles. I’ve used a lot of rattle can over the years, (be honest now, we’ve all used rattle cans!) especially when it is just not cost effective to set up a gun for a 30 second spray session. Brushing is something I never really warmed up to on customer grade items I plan on selling. I’ll wipe it on before I’ll brush it on. But Tru-oil spray makes you apply at a different rate and distance than other rattle can products. Since you have to be closer, you get a smaller pattern, and even laydown is almost impossible.
Finally, the product is obviously thinner, mostly due to the propellant I believe.

Overall, spray Tru-oil might have a place where you may want to spray a cavity that you just cannot get to with a wipe-on Tru-oil, but for my usage, I’d set up a gun before I would go back to this. I won’t be buying this spray product again, but will be more than willing to continue using the wipe-on variety.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3290 days

8 comments so far

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3824 days

#1 posted 11-07-2013 09:07 PM

Thank you for the very good review, I shall try Tru-oil (not in the can)
Where do you buy Tru Oil?

-- Bert

View bobasaurus's profile


3633 posts in 3959 days

#2 posted 11-07-2013 10:57 PM

Thanks for reviewing this. I’ve heard about tru-oil for a long time and considered using some, but was put off as it was specialized for guns and not fine woodworking. Seeing your review, I might have to try some out after all (just not the spray :). Sounds like a great alternative to wiping poly for a high polish.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View ellen35's profile


2747 posts in 4208 days

#3 posted 11-08-2013 11:27 AM

Just ordered some… should be interesting to see how it works.
Thanks for the review.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3290 days

#4 posted 11-08-2013 08:58 PM

For me, the best place to get the Tru-oil wipe on in a bottle is on Amazon. About $24 for a 32oz bottle, and free shipping. Last you for quite a while. I have a guitar in the shop right now with coat #2 on it.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Don W's profile

Don W

19618 posts in 3343 days

#5 posted 11-08-2013 10:20 PM

Interesting Review. I’ve used tru-oil for a long time on gun stocks. I don’t particular care for it for my hunting rifles because of the shininess, but that’s what it does best.

I get not everyone sees gun stocks as fine woodworking, but to me, many fit the category well.

I’ve heard of its use on plane knob and totes, but never tried it. After your review, I kind of said “duh”

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 4261 days

#6 posted 11-09-2013 01:44 AM

Can’t remember exactly where I heard about tru-oil, but have used it for quite some time on smaller projects and I’m satisfied also. Not crazy about the smell, but hey it goes away as it cures. I like that it comes in different shades and smaller size bottles. Sometimes I don’t want to buy a quart of finish, when I just need a few ounces. I’ve had more finish go bad than applied to projects it seams. Most of the larger sporting goods stores sell it, but I buy from amazon. Fast, convenient, I love amazon.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2814 days

#7 posted 11-13-2013 04:34 PM

So is the five-star rating you gave for the wipe-on stuff, and if so would that be a 1-star rating for the spray or ?

-- This Ad Space For Sale! Your Ad Here! Reach a targeted audience! Affordable Rates, easy financing! Contact an ad represenative today at JustJoe's Advertising Consortium.

View QuangFromCalgary's profile


44 posts in 3774 days

#8 posted 11-20-2013 12:36 AM

This is great review. I am searching for oil finish for my next guitar. I will try this tru oil to see how it turns out. One question I hope you can help. I fill pore with epoxy. Will it work with tru oil? Your advice is appreciate. Thanks

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