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Guitar Making and Repair/Tru-Oil over mother of pearl?


Sir, I intend to re-finish my grips on a pistol that I shoot as a member of the US Army Reserve national shooting team. The grips are made out of fancy walnut; they have mother of pearl inlays. I refinished them a year ago with polyurethane, and they were perfect, but it appears the mother of pearl has yellowed a bit. I intend to strip the polyurethane back down to bare wood. Can I apply Tru-Oil over the mother of pearl? If not, what should I use to seal the mother of pearl so I can finish the rest of the grips with Tru-Oil? Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


Hi, Jeff:

The chance is that it was the polyurethane, not the mother of pearl, that has yellowed. This will be borne out when you strip the polyurethane from the grip down to bare wood/MOP. If after stripping the MOP looks white again, it was the urethane.

I suspect that, due to the reaction of the finish with skin oils and sweat of your hand, neither polyurethane nor tru-oil will retain its whiteness over time.

Although it's pricey, spraying the grips with PPG EC-700 (automotive) clear will keep the MOP from turning yellow. It's highly resistant to all sorts of solvents and weak acids and alkalines. It's a catalyzing, not air-dry finish, and is quite "bulletproof", so to speak!


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paul wilczynski


Anything concerning building, tuning, theory of construction. Specialist in finishing (40 years' experience); extensive knowledge of Rickenbacker instruments of all vintages. Rickenbacker factory connection on personal level; ONLY licensed Rickenbacker luthier in the world.


Extensive. I build and restore electric and acoustic guitars (steel string and nylon classicals). I build all of Rickenbacker's acoustic instruments in my own shops in San Francisco and Healdsburg, CA. I write two online columns with a total of over 15,000 posts since January, 2005. Google my name or my screen name, "jingle_jangle".

American Guild of Luthiers.

Mostly automotive and hobby (in the past).

Manage the University Department workshops(Industrial Design) in SF, also have taught and written design and fabrication classes for almost a decade. Have produced online classes, written curricula, syllabi, etc. Run an online forum for my students (500 in number).

Awards and Honors
Awards won for product, vehicle, and preschool toy design in the past.

Past/Present Clients
Rickenbacker International Corporation, Waterstone Guitars LLC, many Fortune 500 companies before I worked in guitars (I ran a design studio for 22 years). I have hundreds of individual--private party--customers.

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