The pine body has been hand-sanded to 600 grit, mainly with a sanding block to keep the front and back flat. I rounded the edges carefully, and they look pretty good. The pine is so soft it sands (and dings) easily, so this is not a time to use a lot of pressure. Stay with the grain and all is well.
My finish of choice (thanks again to Clearfork Designs for the tip) is Birchwood-Casey’s Tru-Oil. It’s a wipe-on, oil-based finish that dries hard in a couple of hours. It’s intended for finishing gunstocks, but somebody had the idea to try it as a guitar finish, and it works very well. It’s nearly the color of maple syrup, so that nice yellow I’m getting didn’t involve using any additional stain.
Apparently the idea is to apply a few, or many, thin coats. I’m going for protection mostly, and the color and satin gloss it dries with are easy to get. I’ll rub out each coat with 0000 steel wool. Very easy to do and really good looking.
By this time in the project, I’m looking for answers to a couple of questions. I don’t need these guitars to be like my others, so how can they be different in interesting ways? So my intention now is to explore, not very scientifically, what happens to the sound when you build with a lightweight (four pounds or under) body and a very thin finish. Onward!