Grain Fill, General Finishing

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by Frickensmith, Sep 11, 2019.

  1. Frickensmith

    Frickensmith TDPRI Member

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    Posted this in the wrong forum and I apologize if this has been posted to death, but this newbie guitar finisher could use some guidance.

    I recently purchased an unfinished swamp ash tele body, and in my haste I neglected to use any grain filler or sealer and sprayed a few coats of the Stewmac Colortone nitro lacquer onto it. The more I'm reading on the subject, the more this is seeming to be a mistake. I still have not done any coats of gloss or anything.

    I am wondering if the body can be grain filled after lacquer has been applied? Or have I gone too far already? I'm not really requiring the body to be bowling-lane smooth, but I just want a nice finish. What would the drawbacks to a non-grain filled guitar be? Just non-smooth finish?

    Any advice you seasoned finish experts could provide would be of great value.
     
  2. POS Guitars

    POS Guitars TDPRI Member

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    What color did you shoot on?

    I think that it all depends on what you want. If you’re going for a relic look and feel, your method is actually helping.

    If you like a smoother finish, it’s a little harder. Evaluate how porous the surface feels, and decide on one of the following:

    1. Sand down the nitro/fill/start over.
    2. Finish with clear. Many times. Sand the clear between coats after you have enough layers to protect the nitro color.
    3. Scuff with steel wool. Use clear filler (such as the one from StewMac). Fine sand. Shoot more nitro color over it.

    In all instances, finish as usual.
     
  3. Fretting out

    Fretting out Tele-Holic

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    Depending on what the end results need to be you can just hit it with 400 grit sand paper and sand it smooth than shoot the rest of your coats over that

    I don’t know how much lacquer with sink into ash though
     
  4. Frickensmith

    Frickensmith TDPRI Member

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    Sprayed what StewMac is calling "TV Yellow" It was the closest they had to the Butterscotch color of the classic early 50's Tele's that I'm shooting to approximate.

    I wouldn't say I'm looking for a relic finish (although I'm not entirely opposed to it), but I'm certainly aiming for a vintage finish. I'm really just trying to make it look like the blackguard teles.

    If I just shot a bunch of the clear gloss nitro I was intending to finish with, would this accomplish your #2 suggestion? And I'm assuming by sand the clear you mean wet sanding?
     
  5. Frickensmith

    Frickensmith TDPRI Member

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    Would the lacquer sinking into the pores of the wood have any adverse effects on the body with regards to moisture or keeping the body protected?
     
  6. Hound Dog

    Hound Dog TDPRI Member

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    In my experience #2 is the most difficult of the 3 options, and you proceed without guarantee that you will succeed. Yes, it will eventually fill all pores if you are prepared to apply and sand it enough. By that time though I guess you will have placed several orders to StewMac for more lacquer spray, in increasing amounts. I would choose option 1 or 3. But from your phrasing I sense your not happy enough with where you're currently at. With only one coat on, sand it. Its not that hard.
    Best
     
  7. Hound Dog

    Hound Dog TDPRI Member

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    No.
     
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  8. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Colortone is an unusual "lacquer enamel" containing naphtha - a traditional "paint " solvent - and not a traditional lacquer. It is a VERY slow drying product. and application directly to wood complicates this.. A few recommendations:

    1. Yes, you can still grain fill. But I would not attempt it until the Colortone has dried for 2-3 weeks *IF* it has been applied according to normal lacquer procedures (each coat applied via 3 extremely thin "passes" per coat, and hopefully no more than a couple of thin coats have been applied. A single coat should be fairly transparent and not cover completely. If you applied a coat as a full coverage coat in one pass - no matter how many coats have been applied - it's applied too thickly with the high probability of solvent entrapment.

    If that's the case I'd recommend stripping it and starting over.

    2. Do quite a bit of reading about lacquer application. Start with the Guitar Reranch Sites' "Finishing 101". Lacquer is NOT applied like paint, and "diving right in" is the best was to get fouled up - as you found.

    3. DO NOT learn by applying coatings on the real body you want to coat. Apply the complete system you have selected (after a LOT more study, as there are 5-9+ total products used in a finishing system) from preparation to final buffing on some scrap wood, and refine/perfect every part of the procedure before starting on the real thing.

    You'll save a lot of money and hassles that way.

    4. NEVER sand between lacquer coats - and "finish sanding" is only used if mistakes were made and there's orange peel or other defects. You should be able to go straight to buffing after the last clear coat is applied.

    5. Don't spray or open solvent containers unless you are wearing the proper safety gear - a NIOSH approved cartridge type respirator is absolutely required, and full-coverage goggles are highly recommended. Dust masks are the same as breathing lacquer with no protection at all.

    Study the products and solvents. PRACTICE the application. and always apply THIN coats - it's NOT paint.

    Hope that helps.
     
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  9. eallen

    eallen Tele-Afflicted

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    What Silverface said. If you do not grain fill in time it will sink into the grain significantly. With the pronounced grain of ash that could be quite a bit.

    Your hope for a buffed smooth finish is doable with grain fill which you can apply after adequate lacquer dry time, followed by more clear.

    Look forward to seeing how it is turning out. The more pics the merrier!

    Eric
     
  10. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think if you buffed it out to a gloss it might look like you missed a step. And trying to fill with clear has its issues because (1) it will shrink, as people have mentioned, and (2) it will inconcistent with some pits filled and others not. If you leave it un-filled, at least it is recognizeable as a feature of the wood grain. Gibson "Studio" (so named because the simpler appointments are not pretty enough for the stage?) LP models have little or no grain filler and a satin lacquer finish on the mahogany. it's not a bad look.
     
  11. Frickensmith

    Frickensmith TDPRI Member

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    Thank you all for the tips. While I am confident in many areas of guitar, finishing is NOT one of them. I ended up sanding off what I had sprayed and started over with a grain filler.

    Now I am wrestling with humidity levels and clear coats sprays. I haven't sprayed anything yet, but if you guys have tips on humidity and when to spray clear coat nitro lacquer, please let me know! I am again using aerosol nitro lacquer for the clear coats.

    I am trying to be patient, but that tends to not be easy for me.
     
  12. eallen

    eallen Tele-Afflicted

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    Humidity takes light passes. What type of humidity are you talking about?
    Many will tell you nothing over 60%. I wouldn't spray most of the summer if that were the case. 75- 80% I use blush remover or retarder. If you pile it on you don't have a chance.

    Eric
     
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  13. Frickensmith

    Frickensmith TDPRI Member

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    Since I'm using aerosol, adding a blush remover or retarder to the spray isn't an option. Are there retarders or blush removers that I can add after the spray to lessen the blush effect?

    As far as the type of humidity, I'm just going by what my weather app says for the outside humidity level. It's showing that there's 75% humidity today, which by many commenters online is outside comfort for clear coat spraying. I am spraying inside my garage, although it is not climate controlled or insulated.
     
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