First time painting and finishing a body and neck

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by edge11, Mar 4, 2020.

  1. edge11

    edge11 TDPRI Member

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    So I'm doing an alder Jazz-tele body from tonebomb in canada along with an allparts rosewood on maple neck. I don't have anywhere to spray so I'm thinking of doing a wood dye on the body then finishing both neck and body with shellac. My question to you is is there any way to do brush on solid colors and if so what would the best kind of paint to use be? Any protips for finishing with shellac? I appreciate the help guys.
     
  2. eallen

    eallen Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Shellac isn't the most durable finish out there but it was used on many historic stringed instruments. I would encourage you to look into doing a french polish with schellac.

    As far as applying a wood dye, if you are taking dye as in a see thru color, translucent, then it is best rubbed on if not sprayed. If you are talking a solid color, you will need to make sure it is a product that is able to be sealed in by the schellac. That would leave Nitro lacquer out in my book. Maybe and enamel, which I know many don't like, or other finishes that cure rather than dry.

    What color are you talking about?

    Eric
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2020
  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    The worst thing you can do is try to learn finishing on an actual guitar, particularly if you want to mix techniques like staining and then finishing over it. Practice on scrap of the same wood that you will be working with until you get it nailed, then move on to your guitar.

    Stains ("dye") can be applied either directly to the wood where it soaks in and may highlight some grain more that other. It can also be applied over a sealer which keeps it from soaking in. It can also be mixed into your finish material (at least some materials) to tint them. Usually it will be diluted in alcohol or water - each responds a little differently

    "Shellac" comes in several forms - there is the canned stuff like Zinsser that can be brushed on. Like any brushed finish you will get brush marks that need to be leveled out. Its possible to spray it but not many people do. It can also be made by dissolving flakes of shellac in a solvent, usually high proof ethanol. "French polishing" is a technique of apply shellac in alcohol buy wiping on many very very thin coats. Often a tiny bit of an an oil like walnut or olive oil is used as a lubricant. It produces a thin finish that is prized on acoustic guitars, mainly classicals.

    I think a better choice for someone who can't spray a finish is a gun stock treatment called TruOil. Its applied somewhat like French polish, many very thin coats allowed to thoroughly dry before buffing. Its very popular on necks because it doesn't feel sticky.

    There are some new finishes called wipe on poly that are gaining popularity. I think they were formulated for floor finishes so they are pretty darn hard. I have no first hand experience with them.

    I personally shoot nitrocellulose lacquer. I started with rattle cans, have moved to a compressor and gun but frankly rattle cans can give a very nice finish. I normally shoot outside on warm days with low humidity. Its a very reasonable way to do one or two guitars.

    I don't do solid opaque colors so no comments. If I was going to experiment with solid colors I would try both pigments in lacquer and two part automotive finishes.
     
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  4. epizootics

    epizootics Tele-Meister

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    How about using water-based spray cans? Montana Colors (the original Spanish Montana, now 'MTN') has a wide range of those. They were designed for indoor use and their pigments are really nice.

    https://www.montanacolors.com/en/productos/water-based-300/

    They also have a water-based varnish:

    https://www.montanacolors.com/en/productos/varnish-water-based/

    I assume you live in a flat? If you can temporarily cover a room in protective film, à la Dexter, this might be a good way to do it. Those cans are low odor / low solvent so they won't stink up the place. You still want to wear a respirator when you are shooting those, unless you want to paint the insides of your lungs too.


    Shellac is great stuff, but not the thing you want to apply over solid colors. It has a slight amber tint and it looks really messy on top of paint. I've actually tried this, just for the sake of science. Not a good way to go.

    A transparent finish might be an easier/safer way to start if you can't spray at all. I've used shellac topped with a few coats of Tru Oil with good results before. Shellac is a lot easier to build up to a really good shine, and the TO adds solvent protection. However, since you're in California, you might have a hard time sourcing it unless you live close to a state line (it is one of the many banned substances in your state!)
     
  5. edge11

    edge11 TDPRI Member

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    Well that's the thing, I don't have a place to shoot any sort of paint that is insulated from dust. Well the plan so far for the finish on the body and the neck is to do Shellac Flakes dissolved in Everclear and french polish from there. Worst comes to worst I can buy one of these at ikea to use as a temporary spray booth and to protect from dust and shoot / leave it outside in my back yard.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2020
  6. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Nitro is reasonable to shoot outside on a nice day. Its initial drying is so fast that most of the time dust and bugs and stuff doesn't have a chance to get into it, if it does it is not hard to sand out. I simply take a low table outside my garage, put the guitar on it, shoot a coat, let it dry if ten minuted and carefully move it back inside.

    I have also made a little spray "booth" out of some cardboard (actually a guitar shipping box). It more or less contained the over spray but required hanging the guitar. I decided I liked shooting it on its top or back so I've quit with the box.

    French polish is certainly a good finish. It is somewhat more delicate than lacquer or TruOil which is a potential problem for an electric that may not be babied like a classical acoustic and it is a heck of a lot of work, but it will give you a wonderful finish. There are some pretty good tutorials on line.
     
  7. brandonwhite

    brandonwhite Tele-Meister

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    I recommend trying nitro. It'll be a better finish than shellac. I use rattle cans. I just hang the guitar off a hook on my porch and spray it. Dust isn't really an issue.
    Just get a respirator and some organic filters for it. Not too expensive of an investment.

    ReRanch and Mohawk both make really good clear nitros.
    You can get Mohawk on Amazon.
    For colors, I've used ReRanch. Those are great too.

    You mentioned in the original post, you want a solid color? In my experience, anything like wood dye that you brush or rag onto the wood isn't going to give you a solid color.
    Another reason to do nitro. Pick one of ReRanch's or StewMac's many solid colors and spray it on there.

    That is, if you don't have binding. You can certainly scrape binding, but if it's your first DIY guitar, that might be a bit of a doozy.
     
  8. brandonwhite

    brandonwhite Tele-Meister

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    Just for some potential inspiration, here is the first neck I ever sprayed nitro on. I had no idea what I was doing. Just tried it out. Did it out on my porch as explained above. Turned out great. I didn't even have to run it over a buffer or anything. Just wet sanded up to 2000 grit.
    It's been my #1 guitar since 2015. I had someone else spray the body because I wanted a custom color that I couldn't get in a can. The finish on the neck has actually held up better than the body, surprisingly.
    IMG_1655.JPG
     
  9. brandonwhite

    brandonwhite Tele-Meister

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    French Polish looks great on a more "classical" looking instrument like an archtop, IMO. If you're doing a bolt-on type guitar, that's another reason to try nitro.

    Now I'll stop hogging space on this thread...
     
  10. ladave

    ladave Tele-Holic

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    I agree with the others...unless your backyard is entirely dirt, dust might not be as much of an issue as you think.

    I have now shot 4 bodies and necks with Nitro, mostly outdoors, and dust has not been a problem.
     
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