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kimonostereo

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 26, 2009
Messages
1,145
Location
Honolulu, HI
Okay, I'm back from trying my dark stain in maple removal experiment. The results? I'll let the pics to the talking then do a short write up on how I did it.

This is the the 25th Anniversary when I got it.


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After some cleaning with 0000 steel wool and Murphy's Oil Soap. There are still some pretty dark stains.

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Using oxalic acid for cleaning:
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Some results:
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Entire neck:
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After some Tru-Oil:
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As you can see, the experiment was a success! The dark stains have been mostly eliminated and that's what I was going for. Here's the steps I took to get these results. NOTE: These steps are only for unfinished maple necks! Don't do this on any neck that has a finish on it!

Clean the neck with 0000 steel wool. (I removed the neck from the body as I wanted to do a really good cleaning. If you plan to leave the neck on the body, mask off the pickup so that the small steel wool fibers don't get stuck in the pickups which could lead to lots of problems!) The reason I suggest cleaning with steel wool first is to remove a majority of the grime and oils on the fretboard as well as whatever layers of tru-oil finish are on the neck. For the really dirty areas I went against the grain in a back and forth motion in line with the frets. You'll want to keep folding your steel wool as you go along as the finish will get stuck in the fibers and eventually will stop cutting. I used the steel wool on the entire neck, not just the fretboard.

Next, I used Murphy's soap oil undiluted and a tooth brush and cleaned the entire neck. I wiped off the Murphy's with a clean rag and let it dry a bit to see progress. There were still some deep set stains.

I had heard that oxalic acid has been used to bleach hard wood. After researching a bit and seeing results, I decided to give it a try. Luckily, I had a bottle of Barkeepers Friend under the sink. We use this to clean stainless steel pans, but this products main ingredient is oxalic acid so I decided to try it out. Be sure to wear gloves and eye protection when using this.

I put a bit of the Barkeeper's Friend power into a small plastic container (I used the plastic top from a gatorade bottle) and added a few drops of water to make s slurry. I wanted the solution to be relatively thick and paste like. I stirred it up then applied it to one section the fretboard (one area at a time) and let it sit there for about 2 minutes or so. I then took a tooth brush and cleaned the area with the slurry. When done, take a clean rage and wipe it off. I found that a majority of the deep stains disappeared. After completing the entire neck I took the tip of a toothpick and ran it on the edges of both sides of each fret to remove any oxalic acid crystals that may have gotten stuck inside.

I then used 0000 steel wool to shine the frets as the oxalic acid can dull the shine of the frets.

Lastly, put a coat of Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil and Wax, place the neck back on the body and you're done!

It's a lot of work, but not as bad as trying to strip finish from a fretboard (don't ask!) and the results are worth it if you have a really grimey unfinished maple neck that you want to restore. Let me know if you have any questions.
 

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Last edited:

TripHazard

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Joined
Feb 17, 2016
Messages
1,157
Location
Nottingham UK
Just wanted to add for future cleaning projects,my girlfriend, who does some furniture restoration suggested a combination of boiled linseed oil and white spirit. Cut the oil with the the white spirit until it reaches the right concentration to move the staining
 

NorM

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 18, 2003
Messages
4,177
Location
Tucson
strong work and a great report
I bet this kinda work was a labor of love

Out of all my necks I think the one I cleaned and refinished myself is the one I love the best.
 

kimonostereo

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 26, 2009
Messages
1,145
Location
Honolulu, HI
I'd love to know if anyone tries this method and if it worked for you. I feel like this guitar neck is broken in but now looks almost brand new.
 

steevo

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Joined
Oct 1, 2009
Messages
395
Location
West Midlands, UK
Amazing job you have done there. Must admit though, the grain looked enhanced somewhat before you cleaned it, i guess its the oils and dirt from being played. Love the dots too.

Sent from my HTC One_M8 using Tapatalk
 

Norrin Radd

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 20, 2004
Messages
2,796
Location
Saint Paul
Next, I used Murphy's soap oil undiluted and a tooth brush and cleaned the entire neck. I wiped off the Murphy's with a clean rag and let it dry a bit to see progress. There were still some deep set stains.

I had heard that oxalic acid has been used to bleach hard wood. After researching a bit and seeing results, I decided to give it a try. Luckily, I had a bottle of Barkeepers Friend under the sink. We use this to clean stainless steel pans, but this products main ingredient is oxalic acid so I decided to try it out. Be sure to wear gloves and eye protection when using this.

I put a bit of the Barkeeper's Friend power into a small plastic container (I used the plastic top from a gatorade bottle) and added a few drops of water to make s slurry. I wanted the solution to be relatively thick and paste like. I stirred it up then applied it to one section the fretboard (one area at a time) and let it sit there for about 2 minutes or so. I then took a tooth brush and cleaned the area with the slurry. When done, take a clean rage and wipe it off. I found that a majority of the deep stains disappeared. After completing the entire neck I took the tip of a toothpick and ran it on the edges of both sides of each fret to remove any oxalic acid crystals that may have gotten stuck inside.

I then used 0000 steel wool to shine the frets as the oxalic acid can dull the shine of the frets.

Lastly, put a coat of Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil and Wax, place the neck back on the body and you're done!

It's a lot of work, but not as bad as trying to strip finish from a fretboard (don't ask!) and the results are worth it if you have a really grimey unfinished maple neck that you want to restore. Let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you for this! ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I followed only the steps above and these were the results: (not great pics, but really dramatic results!)

BEFORE:





AFTER:



 

Norrin Radd

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 20, 2004
Messages
2,796
Location
Saint Paul
Wow! That looks great! I'm glad it worked for you. How long did it take you?

Total? About 25 minutes - including disassembly and reassembly.

The Murphy's didn't remove much - it was the Bartenders stuff that really did the trick. My wife bought a bottle of the liquid version some months ago to clean some stainless steel. I remembered we had it when I read your post - and then the lightbulb went on! :D
 
Last edited:

jswilliams

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2016
Messages
7
so it sounds like the murphys step is not necessary - what about the tru oil step can i skip that? not sure where to get my hands on some.
 
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