Tru-oil - Wipe vs. Spray (Rating: 5)

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.