Finishing a flame maple neck with tinted nitro - stain as well to pop the flame?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by seabubbles, May 8, 2021.

  1. seabubbles

    seabubbles TDPRI Member Gold Supporter

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    Hey - I'm looking for some sage advice!

    I've picked up a nice WD licensed flamed maple tele neck, which I want to finish with tinted vintage amber nitro aerosol.

    I want to make sure that the flamed maple pops - do you think the tinted nitro will be enough on its own, or do you recommend staining the neck first? I'm just worried that having both tint and stain might be a bit too much.

    Thanks for your help.

    Stock photo of what I'm working with (but mine has a rosewood board!)

    [​IMG]
     
  2. cgharrison

    cgharrison TDPRI Member

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    Watch out for those amber in a can nitro mixes - they’re often way way way too orange for me. I used to mix my own stain with alcohol and transtint golden brown, but now I just mix the golden brown into the lacquer, and spray. It saves a step, and really allows you to fine tune the color - you just mix it on the lighter side, spray coats until it looks good, and then finish up with clear. I have noticed zero difference in grain pop / depth of finish between the two methods, but maybe others have?

    PS - you don’t need a gun to do this custom mixed lacquer approach - you can buy a preval unit at Home Depot or the like for $5, and it’ll do the whole neck no problem. You just need some lacquer thinner on hand to prime the unit before using, and to clean it when in between coats. I’m totally happy with most rattle can nitros, but the ambers always seem to look horrible.
     
  3. Rjelecaster

    Rjelecaster Tele-Meister

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    Based on a thread here I applied a diluted amber stain, sanded the stain back so that only the figuring had any stain left and then applied an oil finish. The flame really popped.
     
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  4. Mark617

    Mark617 Tele-Meister

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    I’d go with Tru Oil myself. It allows the grain to pop without the yellowing. Just apply as many “thin” coats, till your desired liking
     
  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    This is the way I would do it but first let me say that even tho I've done it several times I would still practice on some scrap and of course, you don't have any scrap. I'm also going to assume that no sealers or other materials have been applied to wood.

    Sand to 320. Wipe the neck with naphtha - that will show you what the wood will look like under a wetting finish like lacquer WITH OUT any staining. Flamed maple can vary a lot in color all by itself, if you are satisfied with the grain and color then shoot your lacquer.

    If you want to enhance the figure you can wipe on a stain that will be absorbed more into the flame and less on the side grain. This is very sensitive work and you can screw it up dramatically, thats why I always practice on scrap. You also have the choice of different kinds of stains, whether they are made with water or alcohol and how heavily you apply them. I would try an amber or brown stain mixed in DNA, then sanded back almost to white - the end grain of the flame will stay darker.

    Seal that with vinyl sealer so it doesn't bleed into the lacquer and shoot you finish coats. Sand and buff as usual.
     
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  6. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    That neck looks like it has some real pretty flame to it :).

    I agree about some of the tinted or "toner" types of lacquer finishes being too yellow and artificial-looking.



    Another approach is to use a diluted mixture of a dye like TransTint to get your color where you want it, and then use clear lacquer over that.

    TransTint comes in lots of different colors and shades, maybe a diluted mix of vintage maple or honey amber will give you a color to your liking.

    Same thing with stains - some are very subtle and don't add much color at all, but do enhance the graining.



    The only way to find out for sure is by testing out the mixture on similar pieces of maple.

    Keep close track of how you mix your dye or stain samples (like how many drops of dye or the exact proportions of dye or stain to thinner) so you know where you're at.

    Otherwise, when you get that perfect shade that you are looking for, the formula is a mystery ;).

    You can almost always make a dye or a stain darker or more intense, but once you've dyed or stained a piece of wood a certain color, it's difficult or impossible to make it lighter.

    Creep up on it ;).




    edit: You've got good reason to think that some products might be "too much" :)


    .
     
  7. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    I'm ignorant about stains and dyes, so I can't offer any advice there.

    I agree that many amber lacquers are too dark, Reanch neck amber in particular.
    My go-to for light ambering is actually Mohawk Natural Pine Finish Toner, maybe with a little Amber Finish Toner on top. The amber needs to be sprayed lightly from pretty far away, with the piece vertical, or there will be spotting. A little clear between coats will help if you need to knock the tint back with light sanding.
     
  8. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Afflicted

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    Hey Bubbles, Welcome to the forum! That's some incredible fiddle grade curl you've got in that neck. I think you may find that just an amber tinted finish will give you the pop you're looking for. If you really want more extreme, the steps are to dye with a darker shade, then sand back until the maple shows back up in the ridges, then dye with your main color (see my avatar). Be forewarned though, THIS IS IRREVERSIBLE, so err on the side of lighter shading that you think you want. You can always darken it with another coat, but you can't lighten it.

    What ever you choose to try, use the heel that gets buried in the neck pocket as your test area first.
     
  9. eallen

    eallen Friend of Leo's

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    Wipe on alcohol diluted amber dye. Alcohol wipe and sane back until only left in the figure. Spray on clear. These are 2 different necks, as noted from the tuners by the way, done this way.

    IMAG0569.jpg IMAG0624.jpg
     
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  10. seabubbles

    seabubbles TDPRI Member Gold Supporter

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    Thanks for all your advice (and the welcome!). I appreciate the warnings about pre-tinted nitro, I don't want my neck to look like an oompaloompa.

    Since I already had a can of the tinted nitro, I thought I'd follow Freeman Keller's advice test it out on the heel of the neck - this is about 6 coats throughout the day. No stain/dye.

    I'm not sure how I feel about it! I'm pairing it with a Tao's turquoise body, so the orange kind of works? What do you guys think? I've got a nice red tort pickguard to go with it, so it might match nicely with the orange neck.
     

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  11. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    It's too dark, but it really makes the grain pop! Maybe two or three coats would be better.
     
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  12. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    My approach would have been an application of stain, sand back to leave it only in the curly bits, and then a light mist coat of lacquer to lock it in before building a topcoat. But then along comes Freeman with much better advice!

    You can avoid any of the risks of splotching by simply using that tinted laquer it looks great. Applying stain to figured wood can be tricky since it can splotch.
     
  13. Drak

    Drak Tele-Afflicted

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    Your pre-tinted, at 6 coats, isn't working at all for me.

    You are completely in the Land of the Oompaloompa at that level, way over-baked orange.

    Check eallens pics, 100% better matchup.
     
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