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I can't decide on a finish

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by gnuyork, May 6, 2014.

  1. gnuyork

    gnuyork TDPRI Member

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    I have been reading and reading on this forum about finishing, and just when I decided what I want to do, I change my mind. And then again, and so on...

    I am debating between Shellac (flakes) and Tru-Oil.

    Just when I thought I had my mind made up on Tru-Oil due to it's supposed ease of applying and it's inexpensive, I read posts from the Shellac fans that say that it feels amazing.
    I have a pine esquire body. My plan was to do a blonde finish with Minwax pickling stain. I saw a few teles on this board that were done this way and they look great. Originally I was thinking of a finish coat of Tru-Oil. But I am intrigued by Shellac.

    On a side note, I am experimenting with the pickling stain on a couple 2x4s and I am not really thrilled with the results yet.

    So what are the virtues/pitfalls of Shellac and Tru-Oil.

    I should disclose that I do prefer a lacquer finish to poly (and I'm one of the wackos that believe it impacts the resonance of the guitar), but I am not willing (yet) to buy a spray set up and the risk of inhaling the fumes.

    Which would be the best suitable alternative to a thin nitro finish?

    I should note that I really do not care if the guitar is protected. I don't mind at all if it dents or looks worn after some use.

    Thanks!
     
  2. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Tru-Oil for me, especially on necks.
     
  3. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Well as for lacquer, you can get good stuff in rattle cans from reranch or other places, and a respirator isn't too expensive, if that's really what you like. :)

    Personally, I'm more comfortable with T-O than shellac, but I suppose it's just because I started out with it.
     
  4. gnuyork

    gnuyork TDPRI Member

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    I am intrigued by Shellac being natural from bugs (and non toxic). I think that's pretty cool. I know about the rattle cans, but I just don't even want to smell it faintly. Plus they seem expensive.
     
  5. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    For ease of application, you can't beat Tru-Oil. Some guys have thinned and sprayed it from an inexpensive Preval sparyer with good results, but you can wipe on thin coats, flat sand it every few coats, and build up an amazing finish. Many people, including me, think there's no better feel on a neck than Tru-Oil, de-glossed with a bit of 0000 steel wool.

    Shellac can be tricky to apply sometimes, it dries so fast. Brushing it on you have to be careful to avoid witness lines, and keeping a wet edge can be a challenge. You can apply it with a lubricated pad--aka French Polishing, but that takes a bit of acquired skill, about which I know virtually nothing. Shellac can be sprayed from a Preval sprayer or standard spray equipment, and it dries very fast, so less chance of dust contamination, similar to lacquer in that regard. Another thing in favor of shellac is that you can easily tint it, get that vintage amber color, or whatever, more so than Tru-Oil. I have used both canned shellac and made my own from flakes and alcohol, I prefer flakes and alcohol, but canned is good, too. After the alcohol evaporates, which happens pretty fast, shellac is pretty odor-free, and TO also has little offensive odor. Here in Georgia, you can wipe on Tru-Oil when its hot and muggy outside, inside the house without driving everyone out with the smell, and it seems to dry better in conditioned air space.

    Luthier's Mercantile (LMI) has some very good videos on application of Tru Oil (I think they have a data sheet on it, too), plus if you look up their video on burst finishes, they show you some shellac use as a color carrier for the burst. Well worth looking up and watching.
     
  6. GeoB

    GeoB Tele-Holic

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    Some projects of mine just get a bit of stain and several coats of Bowling Alley Wax. I've even seen and used tea water for stain followed up with Bowling Alley Wax.

    Buff it up and it looks good.
     
  7. Tom Pettingill

    Tom Pettingill Tele-Holic

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    They don't have to be mutually exclusive. I like and often use shellac as a sealer and or color coat under Tru Oil. A thin wash coat of shellac can add a nice and natural amber tone to wood and the Tru Oil on top gives you better long term protection.

    I'd say that if you want to try shellac, then give it a go. If you later decide, you can scuff sand it and put Tru Oil over the top. Note that in this case you would want a dewaxed shellac.
     
  8. gnuyork

    gnuyork TDPRI Member

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    Tom, I thought about that as well.

    Was wondering if I go all Shellac, do I need the waxed Shellac? Or can it all be done with dewaxed? Again, I'm not particular with protection. I want the guitar to age and get beat up.

    One other thing, would either shellac or Tru-Oil yellow over time like Nitro?
     
  9. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Do you want it to look kinda like this?....:lol:

    I think this has had some Shellac under Danish Oil on Oregon Pine,,...and 2 yrs of playing...

    it could do with a clean/polish and some new strings, I guess...:rolleyes:
     

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  10. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I really like this old girl. :)
     
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