Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Oud finishing and some sneak peeks of the latest project.

I'm in the finishing stages of completing my latest oud, literally. I'm using Birchwood-Casey Tru-oil varnish. Ouds, like fine classical guitars, are traditionally French polished with shellac. But I've never developed my French polishing skills that well. My philosophy on oud finishes is a bit unconventional anyway. I don't think spending countless hours and dozens of finishing sessions trying to achieve the "perfect" finish makes much sense. Ouds, like guitars or other similar instruments get handled, bumped into the edges of tables, rubbed against dirty, abrasive clothing, scraped across shirt buttons and sweated on. In other words, it's going to get scratched, dented, dinged and dulled. The finish is there primarily to protect the raw wood the instrument is made from, not to be a thing of beauty in and of itself, although it can be this. I just dont see the point. So I use Tru-oil. It's easy to apply, easy to repair, looks great, feels like silk when applied in thin coats, and most importantly, it's durable. It's the #1 finish for gun stocks, and those go through a lot more abuse than an instrument. I like to dispense a small amount in the bottom half of a cut-off plastic dixie cup, and dip my pad into this while applying the Tru-oil in thin layers. The pad is just a small wad of cotton sheet placed inside a larger piece of cotton sheet and formed into a small (quarter size) pad. I tape around the pad to keep it all together. After I'm done with a session, I just pitch the pad and make a new one next time. I also keep the Tru-oil stored updside down so the skin that may form is always on the "bottom" of the bottle when I go to dispense some. Tru-oil is also a great finish for tool handles. Watch out for oily woods like cocobolo though, it doesnt dry so well on those. So until I improve my French polishing skills, it's Tru-oil for me.

Geometric inlay in maple and walnut.

Fingerboard detail. Kingwood and ivory.


  1. Dear Jameel,

    I just want to be the first to congratulate you on this fine initiative. This is probably going to be a leading oud construction resource, a showcase for passion and fine craftsmanship.

    My best wishes for you on this journey.

    S.M Hassani

  2. I hope I can live up to your expectations Sidi! :)

  3. Hi Jameel,

    Your oud craftsmanship is really great.. Hope to see more pictures of you and your workshop, maybe something about your personal life style and other things..

    Happy to see this blog going :)
    I'll also be glad to place a banner for your blog on my page..


  4. Thanks! Stay tuned for more. :-)

  5. At last this shall be my reference.
    I wont bother you as much with my emails Jameel :)
    I'll just have to look for it here!


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