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Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by etype, Jul 6, 2019.
Mix some amber dye in some water based wipe on poly quick and easy finish
Haha, so shellac seems to be the wonder material, it can essentially be the primer OR the finish coat!!! On furniture, it's drawback is that it cannot handle water, so would sweat damage it too?
Shellac is the stick to anything finish - its really great for base coats or sealers after staining. Its big problem, particularly when applied very thin as in French polish is that it isn't very durable. It is the finish of choice for classical guitars and many vintage instruments that are going to be babied, but I personally wouldn't use it on an electric guitar thats going to be abused.
I'm thinking I'd use it as a first coat as a means to add any tint. Yes, tinted wipe-on poly might be easier, but I'd kind of like to try something new (and I have used poly before).
My understanding is that applying clear shellac as a first coat makes using dye or stain impossible as it cannot soak into the wood. But if I use a straight up dye or stain first, then the color would likely be uneven. The solution is to add color to the shellac, which will sit on top of the wood and the color will be more even. Then I could add Tru Oil or Tung Oil or Danish Oil on top of the shellac. Yes, tinted wipe-on Poly might be easier, but I've done that and would like to try something new.
One site did say that only sanding to 220 would keep the Tru Oil from getting too glossy and you need to take the wood to 800 grit if you want a high gloss finish. Does that make sense to anyone? Thanks.
He can use linspeed oil and sunlight if he wants high gloss. ( No it is not misspelled )
My experience is as follows. When I want to stain wood I sand to the final smoothness (usually about 320) and apply the stain to bare wood. I dilute my dyes to with alcohol to make the stains - both DA and water are viable and there are reasons to use one or the other. Experiment on scrap.
Some people seal their wood before applying stain - they say it give better control. What I think that does is leave it on the surface of the wood so it doesn't soak in differently to end and cross grain - that probably gives a more uniform color but I don't think it pops the grain as well. Experiment on scrap.
I then seal the stain into the wood - I've used a wash coat of shellac but most of the time I apply a couple of coats of vinyl sealer which is compatible with the lacquer that I'll use for the final finish. Again, test on scrap.
Those woods that have open pores (which includes ash) should be "pore filled" if you want a smooth finish. There are a bunch of different products that will fill pores and every finisher has one they prefer. I have mine which I use on mahogany, rosewood and koa. I've never done an ash body so I don't know what I would use on it. However I would certainly experiment on scrap.
I only spray lacquer. I've experimented with water born but have come back to nitro. I've tried two guitars with TruOil, I've come back to nitro. I'll discuss the TruOil in a minute.
To show the steps that I go thru, here is a mahogany neck that I want to stain to match a cocobolo body. Mahogany is porous so it needs to be pore filled. I'll shoot nitro over vinyl sealer. The colors and woods are completely different than yours but the steps are the same
Testing the stain on some scrap to match the coco (round thing)
Neck is stained to match the body. Notice how much the color has changed but I can still see all the grain
Sealed and 20 or so coats of finish
I want a warm high gloss finish on all of my guitars. Sometimes I will tint the lacquer to either give it color or for a sunburst or shade. When I tint the lacquer I still want to see thru it to see the grain, but I am looking for a even color - I'm done trying to highlight grain or figure. I'll apply 12 to 20 or more coats of lacquer, sand and buff to get gloss.
OK, my experience with TruOil. I built four guitars out of pine barn wood. These guitars would have looked wrong with a high gloss PRS style finish - I wanted warmth, protection, medium gloss. This guitar was sanded to 320, then I applied something like 24 very thin coats of TruOil, let it cure for a month and buffed it. Pine does not need to be pore filled.
I'm happy with the finish - it meets the requirements for this guitar, but it is not what I would choose for a really fine piece of wood. Frankly I also thought that it was a hell of a lot of work to get that degree of finish. Compare the depth of the gloss with the nitro above - I have seen higher gloss with TruOil but its pretty hard to get. However, as always, you should experiment on scrap.
IMHO Tung oil is furniture finish, I use it on book shelves and speaker cabinets but I wouldn't put it on a guitar. Experiment on scrap.
Thanks! I will be experimenting on scrap, but I'd like to narrow down the options.
I think I will be tinting shellac for a first coat and then top-coating with Tru Oil. And I may try experimenting with a much darker shade of shellac and then sand it off to see how it sticks in the grain. And then follow that with an additional coat with less tint. Then Tru Oil after that. I don't really want to pore fill to the point where I cannot see/feel the grain through the finish.
Shellac is a poor "sanding sealer" - it doe not have the specific filler pigments (which are clear) that help control the color of subsequent dye or stain applications. Sanding sealers are far better for this - then you use a rag dampened with the appropriate solvent (whatever the dye or stain was cut with) to wipes areas that start to go too dark. This "pulls" the colored pigment out before it fully penetrates into the grain. Sanding sealer basically gives you a bit of time to recognize and correct color depth issues.
IF the dye/stain is alcohol based shellac will do little other than possible accelerate penetration - exactly what you don't want - depending on how it was thinned and applied. There are often similar issues with hot solvents like acetone or MEK. If water, naphtha, mineral spirits are used with the dye/stain the shellac may over-limit penetration but not consistently, or appear to limit penetration just fine - but not allow you to "pull" overly dark areas back to match.
Use sanding sealer.
Then dye or stain is fine. I would follow that with tinted paste wood filler (grain filler) like Mohawk or timbermate. You may need several applications that are progressively thinner to get the surface glassy-smooth, which is the goal. It will take a lot of practice, as grain fillers set quickly - so you generally brush, swirl, and scrape with a flexible blade at a (roughly) 45 degree angle to the grain. Change angles with each application.
Then you can apply your finish system. Personally, I would not use Tru Oil on a fully sealed/filled surface - it is a penetrating stain and grain hardener, and you are giving it nothing to penetrate. It is NOT designed to be used as a "coating" only, and its extremely low solids content mean each coat builds a VERY thin film - a fraction of lacquer, and fraction-of-fraction of polyurethane. 10 coats won't equal one coat of lacquer over a sealed surface.
The resin is a polymerized oil - that's something that penetrates grain and ads some hardness. But as a *coating* it has very little hardness, and even 30-50 coats may look nice - for a while - but provide very little durability. It's durability requires wood grain to surround/penetrate - not lay on top of. It also has low solvent resistance - any petroleum based solvent or oil can redisperse it, so lubricants, electrical cleaner/lube sprays and fretboard oils can discolor or damage it.
It's basically a penetrating oil finish - a Danish oil type product. If you compare the MSDS and do any chemical analysis it's virtually identical in general formula, application and performance to many Danish Oil products - none of which are "coatings".
Now - OTOH it CAN provide a nice looking finish, and one advantage to the "redispersing" qualities is that it's easy to maintain. But it requires regular, careful maintenance - reapply quickly (after light cleaning with naphtha ONLY if necessary) before water or solvents can cause any staining or discoloration.
But you *can't* fill dents with it - the solids are SO low it can take 300 applications (that's NOT a typo!) to fill even a small ding. Use it to touch-up dings; then if you want to build the level use thin superglue and drop-fill tools, plus razor blades (with tape wrapped around each end) with a turned edge as a micro "cabinet scraper". That's something you can "google" - but also not something to do without a LOT of practice, and preferably with previous experience using cabinet scrapers.
Finish wise, if you don' want to spray, your other option would be a wipe-on polyurethane. It would provide far more durability, last longer, be easier to clean and be a true "protective coating". Even a thin application of a couple of coats (after sealing/filling) is generally 10-20x as thick as 20 or so coats of Tru Oil.
I hope that helps.
Boiled linseed oil followed by garnet flake shellac, as many thin coats as it takes to get to the desired color desired. Clear coat of some type afterward.
Sand and and finish up with 0000 steel wool.
Honestly the photo reminds me of fumed oak Mission or Arts & Crafts furniture - not really my cup of tea for a musical instrument, but that's how I'd do it.
Hand rubbed Tung oil is great but it takes a good two weeks to set well enough to get a high polish on it.
This one is solid ash and weighs in at 10 lb 3 oz...
Here is a tele and a strat I did a long time ago, I love ash for a solid body guitar.
This caught my eye.
Freeman, could you elaborate on this a little? I've always heard that using alcohol based stain is beneficial if you don't want to raise the grain too much, but I don't think I've ever come across somebody saying that staining with water has out-and-out advantages, so I'm interested to hear your perspective. What are the relative advantages of using each (and water especially)?
Basically it has to do with the finish you will put over it. James Condino who does incredible hand rubbed finishes on his mandolins uses water based stains because he is going to put French Polish over it and the alcohol in the FP (and the rubbing) will pull some of the color that he has put into the wood into the FP. On the other hand, Roger Siminoff, who does beautiful reproductions of the classic Gibson cremola sunbursts uses alcohol for his stain since he will be putting a seal coat of shellac and then lacquer over it.
I have never tried using water, all my guitars get nitro so I started doing that and it works fine.
Here is a link to Condino's website. Click on the upper video (I can't embed it)
and here is his discussion from the GAL conference - recommended reading
Edit to add that I almost always pore fill with finishing resin (Zpoxy) which prevents color migration from the stain to the top coats.
Has anyone had any luck with Minwax Antique Oil Finish on ash?
Wow, that helps a ton, thanks! But, (sorry to say), I may be in more need of help on a finish coat given the new direction this may be taking. See below.
So my son was looking at pics of guitars and he says, "can we do this?"
And all I could think was, "Oh yes, I think so?"
From what I can deduce online:
1. Sand to 220 (or maybe only 180)
2. India Ink (3 coats) (or Fiebings black leather dye) (sand to 220 between coats)
3. General Finishes black gel stain (or ebony dye stain).
4. Pore filler of some kind, something tells me this will look better smoother. But maybe not. Might take 3 coats and sanding to 220 between).
5. Clear coat (I have no idea... prefer wipe on with my skills).
I just don't know about sanding between these applications or how smooth I need to try to get it and when.
Any additional thoughts are welcome! Thanks!
It's pretty much the same as any other oil based wiping varnish. It will slightly amber the ash in a pleasant way. Despite the name...it's not oil. It's varnish. Marketing and all that.
Thanks, sounds like it will do what I am hoping.
Have a good one,
No. You MUST use sanding sealer before any dye (don't use ink - that's for experienced finishers) or stain or your color will be blotchy. This has already been reviewed.
"pore filler of some kind" is "paste wood filler, aka "grain filler - not the stuff you find in a typical hardware store, but Mohawk or Timbermate. These are often tinted to make the grain "pop". And you apply sanding sealer again after the filler.
..."wipe on with my skills" will usually result in a rather inconsistent and/or thick clear coat. See more below -
Meaning it's not a stain meant for subsequent lacquer application.
To the OP - respectfully, it really sounds like you have little idea of what finishing products are typically used, how any of them are applied or where to start, and you're guessing at sandpaper use. MO you need to do a LOT more reading and a lot less choosing products at random and hoping someone will say "that'll work!".
Start with reading everything about finishing on the ReRanch site. It's all based on aerosol lacquer but covers one approach to staining and filling, which will work with most other systems.
Then Google "wipe-on polyurethanes" and read everything you can find. Try to use mostly manufacturers' websites for technical information and product sequencing - but you'll need to learn a lot about variations between brands of products. Example - most aerosol lacquers, applied properly, dry in 30-60 minutes per coat. But Deft and Colortone (Colortone often referenced because of Dan Erlewine's tech reputation) take hours to DAYS to dry - and Dan's advice ONLY applies to Colortone. So you HAVE to be careful about specific sources and products.
Likewise, Youtube videos can be good, mediocre, or ridiculous AND dangerous! ANYBODY can post a video - no qualifications required!
AND, for the same reasons, be cautious about forum recommendations. You need to qualify your sources, as you could be getting advice from a skilled, experienced amateur; a professional finisher but one with limited experience; a long-time industry veteran; and "under the radar" product sales rep; or a 13 year old kid who has only painted with his fingers and likes to type!
Take your time!!!! The single most common cause of finishing problems is impatience. Spend at LEAST a month or two reading, making notes, talking to tech people in wood finishing stores...
...and no matter WHAT you decide to use, plan on finishing some scrap wood - as close in type as you can find (Rockler can be a good source; also hardwood suppliers) from start to finish - prep, sanding sealer, stain/dye, filler, sealer again, whatever finish system you settle on and final buffing - before even TOUCHING the actual guitar body. Make errors and learn how to fix them, refine techniques, experiment with stain strength and get to the point where you can finish it without problems.
If you experiment with inks/dyes on unsealed, porous wood you can easily make an error that CAN'T be corrected - ever. And there goes the cost of that body unless you decide to change to an opaque system.
PRACTICE. Practice until you know what you're doing. It may SEEM like you'll need more material that way - but you'll actually need LESS! Practicing until you get it right will save you money in materials - and migraine medication!
Last - if you use lacquers, polyurethanes or other solvent based materials make sure your work area is CLEAN and well-ventilated with no fire/flame/sparks (including pilot lights) nearby; and everyone in the work area must wear a NIOSH-approved, cartridge type respirator with the correct cartridge and prefilter (based on the material safety data sheet). Buy them from professional paint stores, not on line - they need to be fit tested to ensure they work properly. Dust masks - even with small filters on the front - are USELESS, and you will be breathing solvent fumes directly.
Also wear full-coverage goggles during prep, application, sanding etc - safety glasses don't stop side penetration.
I have actually ebonized wood twice before (but not serious projects) -- once ash and once baltic birch.
I have been and will continue to read tons and I have already brought sample ash to practice on.
It is hard to find solid information. Among sites (like ReRanch) and legit videos I have come across, advice has ranged from:
1) dye before seal.
2) seal before dye.
3) dye, then seal, then dye again (supposedly what Fender did).
4) dye, then stain, then seal.
4) None of the above, seal, fill, seal, add dye to the clear coat.
I do appreciate the time you took writing up your response. I am pretty convinced that I'll find someone to shoot the final clear coat. That, at least, is more than I want to take on.
I know exactly what you mean.
FWIW every professional I know uses sanding sealer before and dye or stain for color control
Then the grain if filled if porous (with tinted or plain paste wood filler, depending on color)
Then sanding sealer again, whether grain is filled or not.
The point is that - depending on the specific wood - one procedure or the other will give you color depth AND a very smooth surface.
From there you can use opaque colors; semi-transparent toners; or both (with toner(s) used to "shift" the color or age it slightly).
Then clear coats are applied.
Some dye before sealing - but that's a road to blotchiness, as you have NO control over color depth. Many beginners do it this way, not knowing any better, posts examples - and get praised because no one wants to say "sorry dude - that looks blotchy as heck!"
And there is no problem using dye and then stain. But only if you NEED to in order to hit the color you want. The two are redundant, so you *should* be able to get your basic color with one or the other, followed by tinted filler for "pop" (on porous woods) and toners for aging, color shift or 3-dimensional effects.
So there's not much on your list that's "wrong" - they are different approaches used on various types of woods when certain colors are desired.
So I'll go back to the MAIN thing you need to do - PRACTICE! and if you don't like an effect, try another - and PRACTICE! Find ONE system that gets you "in the ballpark", then do full practice applications until you can go from clear coats straight to buffing - NO surface sanding (and never sand between lacquer coats except to fix small runs!!!!!)