You know a cool looking guitar when you see one. You might not even be able to really put your finger on why they look so great.
But, nothing makes a guitar more stunning than giving it a deep color that really intensifies that grain.
Which is why Tru-oil’s such a favoured finish for instruments. Made from a blend of natural oils and mineral thinners, this sealer does a fantastic job at darkening wood.
This is mostly thanks to the Linseed oil ingredient found in Tru-oil. Linseed oil naturally darkens wood a fair bit. So it’s perfect for giving instruments, ( made from lumber such as Maple or Walnut), a deeper hue.
But, what if you want to turn that wood grain even darker than what Tru-oil alone can offer? Could you try mixing stain with Tru-oil to get the perfect finish?
You can mix stain with Tru-oil. However, stains won’t blend right into Tru-oil, at least not without an extra additive in the form of ethoxylated alcohol.
Now getting the right ratio, (of ethoxylated alcohol to stain), is the key here.
You see, ethoxylated alcohol is used in detergents and degreasers, because they are so good at helping to rid of oil off surfaces and clothes.
And when it is added to oily wood stain, it ‘thins’ it enough so that the stain will mix right into Tru-oil.
So, keep reading to discover the right blend for your guitar. As well as to find out if you need even bother mixing in that stain at all…
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So, Can You Mix Tru-oil With Any Old Wood Stain?
Not quite. Tru-oil blends best with oil-based wood stain.
You see, wood stain can be purchased in oil-based, water-based, or varnish-based solutions. You can even buy wood gel-stain, (which works more like a coat of paint, than a typical soaking-in stain).
But, as long as you specifically stick to an oil-based wood stain, mixing the two shouldn’t be much of a problem at all.
And How Can You Add Color To Tru-oil Exactly?
Well, there are two stages to blending Tru-oil with stain.
First, you need to blend stain with ethoxylated alcohol separately. And then once you’ve thinned the stain out, you can then blend it into Tru-oil.
Stage 1: Blend Stain With Ethoxylated Alcohol
1). Get a plastic container (one big enough to blend these two ingredients in).
2). Before you pour any wood stain out, use a stick to stir the stain around in the can. This will help to lift any settled color pigment from off the bottom of the can.
Important Note: Do not shake the can, only stir the stain around for the best results.
3). Once done, pour 1 part wood stain and 1 part ethoxylated alcohol into the plastic container.
4). Now grab that stick again, and start stirring, until the two blend together.
Stage 2: Mix Stain-Blend into Tru-oil
- Get a fresh new separate plastic container.
- Pour 1 part of your stain-blend and 1 part Tru-oil into it.
- Using a stick once more, stir this mixture together until the 2 parts are consistently mixed.
But, Can’t You Simply Stain Wood Before Using Tru-oil?
This is a really good point. In fact, it is probably easier to just apply stain first, and then add Tru-oil afterwards.
Both stain and oil-finishes work in a similar way; they both need to soak into wood to be effective.
However, you should have no problem applying oil finishes like Linseed oil, Tung oil – and of course, Tru-oil – right onto that stained surface.
It is worth noting here, that you should always apply the stain first. If you try to apply wood stain after a Tru-oil coat, you are going to run into some uneven problems. We cover more about why this can cause issues in our post here: Can You Stain Over Oiled Wood? (The Top 5 Oil Finishes Examined)
So, instead of trying to darken wood by spending time making a homemade all-in-one blend, it’s easier to just darken it in stages. Simply coat on a wood stain color of your choice, followed by coats of Tru-oil afterwards.
Can You Put Tru-oil Over Water Based Stain?
Tru-oil will coat onto oil-based or water-based stain that has been given time to dry first.
But, take care, because Tru-oil will only coat over dry water-based stain. It will not mix and blend consistently with a water-based stain.
Even ethoxylated alcohol blended water-based stain can’t overcome the age-old rule in that water and oil don’t mix.
To Wrap Up…
So, now that you know how to blend stain and oil, its time to stop and think about whether you even need to do so.
That’s because there are so many simpler ways for you to deepen the shade of timber – all without requiring some special blend.
For example, popular tonewoods like Alder will darken naturally over time without you having to add anything to them.
And adding a stain coat before that oil-finish will deepen the hue of lumber too. And, of course, Tru-oil itself will work its amber-tinting magic as well.