As I’m trying to stay true to a lot of the elements that made the N4 a great guitar, I did a bit of research on how the finishes were done. On the Washburn forums there are several threads that detail how the finish is done. Then I found this post on the stephen’s extended cutaway facebook page which details how the original batch was done. Essentially they used two coats of tung oil and used steel wool between coats. I planned on doing two coats like this and then for the final coat I was going to warm the oil and melt some beeswax in it. This would make the finish more durable and still stay true to the original design. I also decided to apply the oil with a fine grain sandpaper to get an even smoother surface.
There seems to be debate on what is “real” tung oil. It’s unclear to me if the original batch of these guitars used the oil that the big box hardware retailers sell, or got the snobby stuff. I opted the WindRiver pure tung oil from Woodcraft (snobby stuff) just in case.
Applying the oil with 400 grit worked perfectly! The first application made the wood look absolutely brilliant. The grain just popped and it looked stunning.
I hung the body to dry and regularly wiped it down in case any oil was coming out of the pours. I let it sit overnight and started my second coat. What I didn’t account for was how much darker the second coat would make the guitar. Had I known it would continue to get darker I would have not added the second coat, and better yet, I would have melted the wax in the initial coat. Anyway, that’s all hindsight.
It took a while for the oil to cure. While the finish looked amazing, I wasn’t happy with how dark the guitar was. I hit it really hard with some 0000 steel wool to see it that would lighten it up some. i think it helped, but it also made the finish look less …..new, if that makes sense.
I then applied a coat of beeswax and this really brought the finish to life. Simply beautiful. Unfortunately, after about a week, it became cloudy. Apparently there was moisture and I didn’t allow the oil to finish curing. I hit it with a little more steel wool and applied more wax. Now the finish is complete.