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Options for poly finish on fabric top

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by Norwoodz, Jul 24, 2017.

  1. Norwoodz

    Norwoodz TDPRI Member

    22
    Jan 19, 2014
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I'm working on a few test pieces with some cotton fabric. I don't have a place to spray, so I'm limited to brushed on finishes for now. So far I've glued down two different pieces with Titebond, laid down a couple light coats of white glue on top of the fabric, and am comparing clear coats. One I'm building up with polyurethane and the other with polycrylic.

    From what I read around here, some folks like the polycrylic for the way it builds, but don't tend to use it as a top coat. So far, what I like about the polycrylic is that it builds and fills in the fabric quickly, it dries quickly so it doesn't gather as much dust as polyurethane, and it seems to be less prone to small sanding scratches showing through.

    As far as durability of a top coat, am I correct in thinking standard polyurethane will hold up better? I'm wondering if I could use the polycrylic to build up a flat surface and then top coat with polyurethane. Would I need to let the polycrylic cure for a long time so I didn't trap any moisture under the top coat?
     

  2. Peltogyne

    Peltogyne Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 29, 2012
    Northern California

  3. Norwoodz

    Norwoodz TDPRI Member

    22
    Jan 19, 2014
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Thanks, I like the look of that. Might have to make a quick trip.
     

  4. Norwoodz

    Norwoodz TDPRI Member

    22
    Jan 19, 2014
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Did you sand between all your coats? And for a product that says wait 2 hours in between, do you want to space it out more if you're building up quite a number of coats?
     

  5. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    I would skip the step of using white glue to size the top of the fabric once it's down, that's the job for a harder finish that's meant for a topcoat.

    And as long as you use a proper woodfinishing coating like General Finishes or Target you can expect it to be as durable as solvent based poly. I will not vouch for Minwax products in that regard; their initial offerings a few decades ago were so poor (poor adhesion, cloudy blue cast, easily scratched) that i have not gone back.
     

  6. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    And maybe run a search here for finishing schedules for "paisley" teles. It's been done for sure.
     

  7. Norwoodz

    Norwoodz TDPRI Member

    22
    Jan 19, 2014
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Thanks. Based on what I've been reading about water-based poly, the three on my mind are General Finishes topcoat, Emtech 9000, and Varathane. The GF brand is locally available, but - maybe I'm reading reviews of people who didn't use it right - several of the reviews at Stewmac talk about the finish not curing very hard, and being able to sink your fingernail into it. Maybe I'm obsessing a bit, but I don't want to keep dropping money into this and realize I should have gone another way.
     

  8. tvvoodoo

    tvvoodoo Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 11, 2010
    Western Canada
    just remember acrylic, if you recoat it on a "Quick" schedule will bite you back if you do too many layers too fast.
    And for fabric you need a LOT of layers, so the odds are high on making the same mistake.
    It will take forever to cure enough to dare putting hardware on. Ask me how I know!

    Sure it drys to the touch on the outside, but under that layer? she needs time to harden. When you add more on top,
    you're adding months, not weeks to the wait. Even when you think it's good to go, it probably wont be.
    Just pulled strap buttons off a fabric tele I did, and the felt washers are now basically part of my guitar. :mad:
     

  9. Norwoodz

    Norwoodz TDPRI Member

    22
    Jan 19, 2014
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Updated thoughts: The waterborne stuff dries to touch very quickly, but sure takes a while to fully harden. You gotta be a ninja with that brush, too. As soon as you lay it down you'd better have it set or almost set just how you want it. I have to say, what I like about oil-based poly is the ability to really brush it out. I think I'll set aside the waterborne stuff for another project and go regular poly on this. The oil-based sample pieces I've built up are rock hard, so I've got a proven method here.
     

  10. Norwoodz

    Norwoodz TDPRI Member

    22
    Jan 19, 2014
    Grand Rapids, MI
    IMG_1028.JPG Here's the fabric on the back. A very strange optical illusion makes this Tele look like a knockoff Les Paul. Crazy, I know. Hopefully the TDPRI gods are not too upset.
     

  11. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    How are you going to handle the control plate on the back of that, um, Tele?

    Seriously, though, EM9000 (Target Coatings) might be great for your purposes. it's a hard, table-top finish using polyurethane resins. The 9300 is polycarbonate. EM6000 is acrylic (which is what i use on furniture and guitars because I like the way it buffs out and feels - not applicable for you sealing in the fabric).
     

  12. Norwoodz

    Norwoodz TDPRI Member

    22
    Jan 19, 2014
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Well, at this point I've already taken a razor to the edges. I was thinking I'd build up some clear and give it just a gentle round over where the backplates go.
     

  13. Norwoodz

    Norwoodz TDPRI Member

    22
    Jan 19, 2014
    Grand Rapids, MI
    IMG_1111.JPG I'll definitely consider the Target Coatings products for future projects. Right now I've got some regular poly sitting on the shelf so that's the way this one is going. I gave the coat of water-based poly about a week to sit before I sanded and started laying down oil-based clear.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2017

  14. Norwoodz

    Norwoodz TDPRI Member

    22
    Jan 19, 2014
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Made a simple stencil for fitting the fabric around the fretboard.
    IMG_1159.JPG

    IMG_1160.JPG



    Glued down.
    IMG_1162.JPG

    And back to the back...

    After a few coats of poly and some sanding, the surface felt good to me. It's got a couple small dings but I'm not going for perfection. I'm sure I'll add my own dings in the future.

    More poly.
    IMG_1191.JPG


    I brushed the neck with some black stained poly. I'll probably do the same for the sides.
    IMG_1207.JPG
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017

  15. Norwoodz

    Norwoodz TDPRI Member

    22
    Jan 19, 2014
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Well, some trial, and some error. The black on the neck was brushed on polyshades. The reason I used it was, my boss has a workbench with a rock hard finish that's held up well for years, and that's the finish he used, so I've seen good results from the product. My experience was not so good. 24 hours later it was still very tacky. A rag with mineral spirits wiped most of it right off. I'm not sure if I didn't mix the stain enough or maybe it was a humidity thing. Forgive my naivety on the subject, but, I would expect a humid day to mean finishes applied indoors would dry much slower, but are there levels of humidity where you shouldn't apply finish even indoors?
     

  16. Norwoodz

    Norwoodz TDPRI Member

    22
    Jan 19, 2014
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Ok. Well, the black Polyshades didn't turn out. I've since read that a number of people despise that product. I'll still take credit for user error, but I'll be switching methods there. I've successfully brushed on black enamel to other projects and it turned out very durable. Giving that a crack. In the mean time, I've picked up a little temperature/humidity meter to set on the bench so I know exactly what conditions I'm working in.

    As for the Polycrylic... I had used that for the first couple coats once the fabric was glued down. No problem there. Thin coats, and I gave good drying time between. Well, I became less and less of a fan of how the fabric on the top laid down - not quite even enough and I wasn't totally happy with the placement of the pattern. I figured it wouldn't kill me to remove the fabric and do it again. Then the Polycrylic came back to say hello. All over the surface of the guitar was this rubbery film: stretchy and soft, but just hard enough to be a pain to remove. Some major chiseling and some major wood filling to get back to another good starting point. No Polycrylic this time (I like to be open minded but I can more clearly see what people don't like about the stuff).

    IMG_1300.JPG


    The back is doing fine. I hit the polyurethane with some wool lube and an ultra fine (gray) Scotch Brite pad. Nice even satin sheen, pretty much what I was going for.

    IMG_1302.JPG


    As far as my limited experience product takeaways: I'm not a fan of the Polycrylic. Gummy, rubbery... at least for this job. The Polyshades probably involved some user error but I'll say tentatively not a big fan. The Aqua Coat grain filler did a great job of filling up the fabric and drying into a hard, clear, workable surface for clearing. The Minwax polyurethane is very sensitive to technique, but it dries nice and durable and scratch resistant, and it works fine for what I needed it for. I'd be curious to try other polys and varnishes, but I have no reason not to be satisfied with this product.
     

  17. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    The back came out perfect - definitely will elicit a, "Hey wait how'd he do that?" reaction.
     
    Norwoodz likes this.

  18. Norwoodz

    Norwoodz TDPRI Member

    22
    Jan 19, 2014
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Thanks. Ya know, being a guitar player isn't an automatic chick magnet like some think it is. But when you cover it with pretty fabric and show off your arts and crafts side..... hmmm. Time will tell.
     
    Peltogyne likes this.

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