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Mohawk Finsher's Choice Lacquer

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by bier, Mar 8, 2018.

  1. bier

    bier TDPRI Member

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    I had a nice chat with a local luthier who delves into relic work. He said that if his shop sprays a certain finish it will check before he can even get it back to the customer. I aksed what that finish was, and he told me Mohawk Finisher's Choice.

    Has anyone here used this? I'm working on an Inca Silver (reranch) telecaster style body so I ordered a few rattle cans of this in gloss finish. I do want a clean finish but would love for some natural checking to occur. Here are a few progress pictures, but it would be great to see those from others, where available. I'm aiming for a vintage look but don't intend to scrape the paint at all for a super aged finish. Here's my progress so far. I made the body out of swamp ash.

    Mohawk Sanding Sealer
    [​IMG]

    Rust Oleum Primer
    [​IMG]

    Inca Silver Before Clear
    [​IMG]

    One Coat of Finishers Choice Clear
    [​IMG]


    I intend to do 3 coats a day for 3 days, and let this cure for at least 3 weeks, but I will post my results with this lacquer to see how it yellows and checks.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  2. bier

    bier TDPRI Member

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    Finished the third coat of the day and brought into the basement for the night (from the garage). The clear looks to starting to lock the silver particles in nicely.

    [​IMG]
     
    Buckocaster51 likes this.
  3. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    Never had a checking issue with Finisher's Choice - unless it was intentional. You need to use specific techniques to create checking - it's not "accidental" unless the product is mishandled/misapplied.

    It's an excellent line that has been in wide use by instrument and furniture finishing pros for years. If a finisher was having issues consistently 1) they'd contact tech support and solve them, or 2) did and found out they were using the product outside manufacturer's guidelines.

    Problems like that don't just "go on". Sounds silly. If you want checking, learn how to achieve checking with lacquer. Use Google and you'll find dozens of resources.

    And practice on something other than your guitar first.
     
  4. bier

    bier TDPRI Member

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    I should say that I was asking this luthier about his relic work, so perhaps he was exaggerating the product’s propensity to check. And I’ve sprayed a handful of bodies and do have experience with several lacquers. I posted in search of experience stories from others. Can you share how you intentionally get lacquer to check, or how which you prefer to use and why? I can and have googled this many times, but I’ve found this forum and it’s members to be a unique resource. Over on instagram a lot of guys make mention of “old school formula” with “no plasticisers” but i haven’t come across that myself.
     
  5. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    A bit - but not in specific detail. It's artwork and the question is like asking "how do you paint and landscape"?

    There are several basic techniques that you can find using Google with the right search terms. Other than physically slicing the film using surgical steel blades they involve sudden temperature changes.

    One of the most common - but also an easy way to burn yourself and/or get severe frostbite (I'm not kidding) involves carefully heating a section of cured film and then quick-freezing it. A household freezer doesn't work fast enough unless the lacquer is...well, crap that would check almost immediately anyway.

    A nitrogen-based aerosol "duster" can work well but also freeze your fingertips in a nanosecond, so I don't recommend ANY of this - I'm just relating a "story".

    And DO NOT EVER do any of this stuff on a guitar without practicing on scrap. I suggest at minimum 3-4 practice pieces the size of a guitar body (and neck), and I can just about guarantee the first couple of "real" attempts will go south in some way or another.

    S0 - the primary "trick" - Immediately after heating the surface a can is inverted and the surface give a short blast. But that's just the "kindergarten" part and takes about 1/50th the time of the whole "checking" process if it's going to look real.

    And it works - or it doesn't. And it's a slow process. AND it involves understanding logical, realistic checking patterns that occur naturally. AND if done without inconsistent (on purpose) but realistic work with toners; creating wear in places wear normally occurs (which really has to be matched to a player to make sense); AND without highlighting all checking, cracking and chipping (another thing to remember) with the right dirt, liquids, oils and scum that look like years of accumulation. cleaning. rubbing-in, more cleaning, polishing, cleaning, more dirt (etc etc) it'll look *wrong*.

    And most do look wrong, or weird - because it takes a huge amount of time and effort to make a relic look "old" - and not like " a relic job". And there are absolutely stunning mistakes like creating wear that continues under a screwed-on pickguard. Faded areas under hardware. :lol:

    Last - and hardest to do - if the surface is glossy - or semi gloss - or even consistent at all - it will look fake. Checked finishes that are old (and real) have a natural patina that is all over the map on the same guitar.

    "Buyers" are often shocked when good finishers want 2-4x the finish price (or more) *just* for relic work (after the finish job is paid for). But good work takes a huge amount of time and a lot of skill, training and experience.

    As far as materials you simply have to try different ones and see what results you get. the problem is that application method(s), every material used in the process, cure times for each and both surface and ambient temperature during application can all change how each material reacts. They simply are no "typical" tendencies, other than that of Deft lacquers to often refuse to "force check" at all.

    Formulations are sometimes different in different locations because of variations in manufacturing facilities/equipment and regional air quality regulations.
     
  6. bier

    bier TDPRI Member

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    I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and experience. I do hope to achieve realistic results. Do you have an album with your work? Seeing that would be inspirational. Finally, if you are able - could you share with us the nitro you most prefer? Though I do now spray aerosol cans, I would like to upgrade my setup soon.
     
  7. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    No, but I'll try to dig around for some pictures.

    As far as "favorite" lacquers I generally use Sherwin Williams or Valspar, but there are also local manufacturers. It just depends - most any quality acrylic nitrocellulose bulk lacquer works well with a good HVLP rig. Each requires slight equipment adjustments.

    I used to tint all my own colors and toners, but I do so little work nowadays that I get lazy and often pick up toners made by Mohawk. I'll even use their aerosol clearsat times for small work. There are paint stores locally that stock dozens of their aerosols and they work fine for small applications.

    The quality of aerosol spray tips has improved so much in the last 10 years that I don't think it makes sense for those that finish just a few guitars a year to even mess with spray equipment. Aerosols will do at least as good a job as the inexpensive "bleeder" HVLP's sold by Harbor Freight, Rockler and others.
     
  8. bier

    bier TDPRI Member

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    I'm eager to see those pictures. I applied my last coat of aerosol Mohawk Finishers Choice to this body and plan to wet sand and polish in 3 weeks. Curious what you think about timing there. I have read and followed the Reranch 101 a handful of times but I don't mind a "sunk finish" if it comes to it.
     
  9. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    well - I usually don't wet sand. I go straight to the polisher. But I've been spraying for decades - you should eventually get to the point where your last coat is a 3-pass "flood" coat that lays out without lumps or orange peel (assuming the previous coats were at least smooth and not dry-sprayed or "orange peeled") with, at most a minor run here or there that just requires a few ,minutes of spot sanding. Then it's off to the buffer with 3 or 4 different grits of stick polish.

    But 3 weeks? Really? I'm polishing next day. Same day if I sprayed the morning (assuming temperature and humidity were within acceptable ranges for spraying to begin with.. The only lacquer that requires that kind of wait time IMO is Deft, which I'm prefer be sanded until it's no longer visible :lol:. But that's a personal preference - I dislike its slow cure and spray results.

    But Mohawk, Behlens, Rust-O-Leum...the RPM lacquers...flash off in hours. Lacquers *do* cure over years; it takes a nearly infinite amount of time for them to reach full "hardness" - at which point they're brittle and cracking if applied to surfaces that bend or expand/contract.

    But I have never found an advantage to waiting longer *IF* the entire finishing process was done to "spec" - meaning manufacturer's specifications and/or established, known professional finishing procedures followed for preparation, sealing, filling and application (it's critically important that no materials touched the surface that could contaminate the coatings, including "wrong" cleaning solvents, some off-the-shelf patching compounds that contain oils or plasticizers that affect the coatings, adhesives used for repairs, thinners, etc etc.

    And to *prove* this you already sanded your practice scrap piece that you prepped, coated, sanded and polished - the entire system to completion - before starting on the guitar....ooooops! o_O:D

    Have a time machine handy?

    In this case wait longer if you want. Up to you. I wouldn't, but not knowing exactly how everything was done and how much material is on each area I can't tell you one way or the other. I *can* tell you 3 weeks is longer than you should ever have to wait, though. Honestly, if you start sanding after 3 days and something goes wrong with the coating there is a serious problem that requires stripping. BUT it can take a week or 2 for some applications to allow a guitar to go in a case.

    OK - let's continue to "lesson" part -

    Seriously, this is a great example of why I preach the same thing on almost every thread: NEVER perform a single operation - even *cleaning* - on a guitar part unless you have successfully applied the EXACT system you are planning to use on a good-sized piece of scrap (preferably the same or a similar type of wood, with edges and contours created somewhat similar to the actual part(s).

    And I mean the whole process/system to full completion - cleaning, sanding, sealing, filling, priming/re-sealing, toners or color coats, aging toners, clear coats, sanding - if necessary, and if anything rougher than 1500 is needed to sand entire surfaces something is wrong with spray technique. It will need to be corrected before the guitar is worked on unless you like to waste huge amounts of time and possibly deal with sand-throughs (Nobody can guess how much material is on a surface,and it's incredibly easy for inexperienced finishers to sand right through - in 4 strokes.). AND polishing. And admiring the wonderful job you did.:D

    Only then do you start on the guitar parts you are coating THIS time. If ONE component - a type of stain, a different sealer or filler, a new (to you) clear lacquer, a different thinner (REALLY critical for those spraying bulk goods) changes you do the WHOLE thing - because one component can change how the finished material looks, sands and polishes.

    It eliminates surprises. All questions are answered before there are "problems" - because something weird on a practice piece is a "learning tool", not a problem. On a guitar it IS a problem. And there should not be any of those. They will only occur if you screw up (and we all do!) - and those questions are unfortunate, but reasonable.

    But "Help me fix my..." or "Is this how (fill in the color) lacquer is supposed to look?" or "Is this thick enough?" or "I applied the sealer filling stuff to my $500 Strat body, what's next?" questions really shouldn't ever be asked. The only things that cause them are 1) lack of taking the time to read, 2) impatience, and 3) not being willing to spend a few bucks on extra material.
     
  10. bier

    bier TDPRI Member

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    This is a swamp ash guitar body that I made myself and it is a learning tool. I'm entirely fine if it doesn't turn out perfectly and have to start over. I do this for fun and to learn - I have plenty of other guitars. Sure I do want more playable ones that I've made, but this is the approach I choose to take.
     
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