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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

Grain fill under clear finish

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by tigger, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. tigger

    tigger TDPRI Member

    I suppose you have a weekly grain filling thread in these parts, but all I found don't quite solve my problem. I have a swamp ash body that used to have a tru-oil finish on it, that I stripped and am planning to re-finish it in nitro. In the end I want an amber clear finish.

    I need to fill the grain somehow, but I'm running into trouble with the grain filler being too light in color. I have R&F/dartfords "ash" water based grain filler. The stock was too light so I mixed it with dartfords water based amber dye, but that is too light itself and even concentrating it by cooking it I only get a yellow, rather than dark brown fill. All I want is for the grain fill to be invisible or perhaps *slightly* accenting.

    Should I simply get a darker water based dye and try to dye the grain filler dark brown? I'm afraid the dye will darken the light ash wood. Or should I go for something clear for grain filling? I do have dried out BC sealer&filler that I can probably thin with acetone but Simon at R&F advocated against using that.

    Thanks a lot!
     

  2. jvin248

    jvin248 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI
    .

    I use Timbermate and like a little darker than coloring the rest of the wood. found a touch of red gives more depth plus warmth than black/gray alone.

    .
     

  3. tigger

    tigger TDPRI Member

    So you color the timbermate with regular water based dyes and get no leakage into the surrounding wood? Do you spray with sanding sealer before or after grain filling?
     

  4. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    Yes it's not a problem unless the filler is really wet and has a ton of dye in it (BTW that's what Gibson does with their mahogany, the stain step is done as part of sloshing on the grain filler, and yes, some formulations have so much dye that it dissolves itself in the clear coat and bleeds up over the binding). Besides Timbermate comes in a number of colors to begin with some might be close to what you want.

    And for the second question, I find that it's easier to smear the grain filler on if there's a smooth coat of sanding sealer on there that's been knocked back to remove any raised gain, but the down-side is when you start sanding back if you cut through the sealer it's going to show a different color of bare wood.
     

  5. tigger

    tigger TDPRI Member

    Welp, this is getting difficult. I managed to mix what I thought seemed like a good grain fill, but then I tried wetting the wood with mineral spirits, and the colors of the fill are much darker and contrasty like that. I almost prefer the original light ash grain fill to the too dark tinted one. Will it look similar when under lacquer? I'd try but can't really spray it here due to toxicity.
     

  6. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Why are you using mineral spirits if you are using a water-based filler? They are incompatible. Did you wet the wood after the filler was completely dry or when it was wet? If it was wet you may have created some odd reaction.

    FWIW most grain fillers can be tinted using dyes or universal tinting colors - the same ones used to tint paint. Many paint stores carry them in small squeeze tubes.

    You should also be testing everything you do on a piece of scrap wood before ever working on the guitar - apply the entire system so you'll know what to expect. Otherwise you may end up with a non-reversible problem. Which it sounds like you may have.

    There's no way to know what it will look like under the lacquer - you have to test-spray to find out. That's exactly why a test piece should always be used.
     

  7. tigger

    tigger TDPRI Member

    I'm sorry: all of the above is talking about a test piece of swamp ash, not the actual body. That would be rather silly to have a range of different grain fills on the body. I used mineral spirits because I expect it to be closer in chemical properties to the lacquer and not soak into the wood unlike water, I perhaps should have used acetone.

    Basically, what I was fighting with is that while wood gets darker under lacquer, the grain fill perhaps gets much darker. I used a universal water based tint as you mention (black) to get the color to where it looked the same as the grain, but after wetting it with either water or mineral spirits, I had really black contrasty fill.

    In the end I mixed some shade of grain fill that seemed fine to me when dried and swabbed with mineral spirits and put it on the body. I'll sand it and put a coat of sanding sealer hopefully during the weekend and see. Thanks for all the help, hopefully I won't be back.
     

  8. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    They all soak in the same - I would not use mineral spirits at all. If you want to use a lacquer-compatible solvent use acetone, or use naphtha. Mineral spirits has impurities that are left in the surface. But regardless only the evaporation rates are really different as far as "soaking in" goes.

    Please DO come back! Let us know how it goes and post pictures so folks can see how that method works out.
     

  9. tigger

    tigger TDPRI Member

    Well I put a light mist and 2 coats of sanding sealer on it and it's more orange and lighter than I'd like, but I think the "light amber" coats + UV light should fix it. The grain fill is around 80-90% but that's fine with me, I like when the lacquer sinks into the grain just a bit.

    [​IMG]
     

  10. tigger

    tigger TDPRI Member

    So I sprayed the "weakest amber" in two layers, and I think it's way too orange. Doesn't really look much like the examples. This is how it was and how I'd wanted it (perhaps a bit darker):
    [​IMG]

    Instead it looks like this:
    [​IMG]

    I think I will need to sand it off, keeping the lacquer that seeped into the grain as extra grain filler, and then perhaps try to put just really really thin coats and combine it with the neck tobacco tint lacquer I have.
     

  11. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 14, 2005
    Nueces Strip
    Low-tech grain filling solution i learned here in TDPRI, but don't remember who to credit:
    After a couple of coats of sanding sealer use drywall compound (yup sheetrock mud) tinted with craft paint (little bottles from Wal-Mart, comes in many colors).
    Goes on easily, sands down easily, cheap. Very compatible with lacquer and poly.
    My favorite process.
     

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