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How do I maintain the natural color - Mahogany

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by Missing Link, Nov 26, 2020.

  1. Missing Link

    Missing Link Tele-Meister

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    As the title says, how do I maintain the natural light color.
    I have a couple of Telecaster projects coming up and one of them needs to maintain as much as it's natural Mahogany color of the wood as much as possible after giving it a clear coat of finish protection.
    It seems that Mahogany wants to show off its beautiful wood grain and its deep dark red/brown/gold colors with almost any finish that is applied. I have done two others and they as great but the wood just absorbs a ton of finish and darkens fast.
    On this one job I want to keep the light color of the wood as much as possible. I know it will darken some but is there a way to minimize the darkening maybe with a coat of clear shellac sealer before the finish is applied.
    Pictures are of the Mahogany Tele body with a pick guard (strat style) and without (strat style). Has not been decided yet.
    Any suggestions on how to keep the darkening at bay welcome?

    Cheers
     

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  2. Rockhead

    Rockhead Tele-Meister

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  3. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    The wood darkens because the finish soaks into the pores quite a distance; mahogany--especially softer varieties--is like a sponge.

    One way would be to sand it smooth to 300, vacuum it well, and then spray very light coats of shellac from about 14" to 16" away.

    This gives the alcohol a chance to gas off a little before it lands on the wood; the shellac will be thicker when it lands and won't penetrate it as far as it usually does. Use light mist coats, with at least 30 minutes dry time between. You don't want a flood coat with the finish shiny on the wood; it should be very light, with a matte appearance. Once you get 15 or 20 coats on, then you can apply your clear of choice, level sand, etc.
     
  4. kbold

    kbold Tele-Afflicted

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    You could always ...

    upload_2020-11-27_23-20-9.png

    ...leave it bare.
     
  5. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    The waterborne poly finishes go on clear and stay clear but I still think the wood will darken under the finish, I know that cherry certainly does.
     
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  6. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Afflicted

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    *it's going to darken with any finish that gets the wood wet. Dampen it with some mineral spirits, what you see is the lightest it will be with finish.

    *water white vinyl sealer will give you the least tinting. As mfguitar mentions waterborne poly does not yellow with age like nitro. Mahogany is going to darken with age if exposed to the light, but we're talking years.

    *mahogany has a very open pore structure, I'd consider zpoxy to fill the pores before finishing.
     
  7. Missing Link

    Missing Link Tele-Meister

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    Hey guy's as I mentioned I am aware that a wood like Mahogany will darken from absorption of the finish and with time.
    I did come across this finish called Modern Masters Exterior Dead Flat Varnish -
    https://www.modernmasters.com/~/media/ModernMasters/PDF/Label/MM-DP-ExtDeadFlatVLowVOC.ashx

    Now from what I can tell is it leaves the woods natural color intact better than most with maybe a small amount of darkening. But that is about all the information I can find with no mention of how it protects the wood if its a Varnish, does it streak or is it self leaving when applied, and can a water based Polly be applied on top. Anyone try this stuff?

    Waterborne will most likely be the way to go to reduce the darkening affect's of the wood compared to oil-based. I believe some more leg work is needed.
     
  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    You are correct that almost any wood will darken as you apply finish, I don't know of any clear finish that won't do this. You can get a pretty good idea of how much the color is going to change by wiping the bare wood with naphtha - that's the color you can expect. You can, of course, darken or change the color by using either dyes in the finish or stains on the wood - I frequently stain mahogany to match rosewood. Remember that mahogany is a porous wood and needs to be pore filled - that can affect the color also.

    Here are three examples of mahogany guitars. I'll try to show a picture of the bare wood, pore filled and then one finished. This was pore filled with paste (from StewMac, they no longer sell it) and finished in lacquer. In the first picture the spruce top is laying on the mahogany back, second is the pore fill and third is the back. The final finish on this guitar is a waterborn lacquer called KTM-9. It is no longer available, I would expect Target waterborn to be similar

    IMG_1870.JPG

    IMG_1977.JPG

    IMG_2012.JPG

    I have stopped using the paste pore filler and switched to a finishing resin called Zpoxy. It adds a very slight amber tint, does a great job of filling pores and enhances grain better than anything else I've tried

    This is mahogany with zpoxy pore fill and nitrocellulose lacquer

    IMG_4630.JPG

    IMG_4724.JPG

    IMG_4810.JPG

    And my latest creation, mahogany with zpoxy and nitro

    IMG_6176.JPG

    IMG_6177.JPG


    IMG_6262.JPG

    That's pretty much what you can expect out of mahogany. The cardinal rule, of course, is to practice on scraps of YOUR wood with YOUR products.
     
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  9. Missing Link

    Missing Link Tele-Meister

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    Yes I always give the wood a wipe of naphtha not just to clean the wood but as you say to give a good indication of what to expect when applying the finish.
    It would be nice to have a finish were we can control to a point how dark any wood will look afterwards and look good for Mahogany.
    Yes the Z- Epoxy is excellent as I have used it before, on this project I have elected to use the Timber Mate (Mahogany) as my last Telecaster (all natural) seemed to have an exceptional surface after the Finnish was completed.
    I guess I probably will have to face the fact that controlling the amount of darkness with Mahogany wood is at this time fruitless. I have some Min wax Natural stain that I used on a Ash Telecaster that seemed to help reduce darkening the surrounding white of the wood while letting the grain jump out. I may use that to see if it can help when the finish is applied.
    Mahogany is my favorite wood to use on any project.
    I do like what you have done with the double neck.
    Thanks for the information always good to learn something.

    Cheers







    The last one done in Mahogany
    DL276667.jpg
     
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