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Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Freeman Keller, Jul 12, 2020.
What you've shown so far, you're an expert. How did the front turn out? Are you ready to string it up, and record a demo?
"Expert" or not...that's a fine finish result!! Wow...
Since I am officially an expert on French polishing now, let me make a couple of observations
The finish is nicely shiny but I wouldn't call it gloss. Maybe satin-gloss. It is about what I expect of varnish or my best attempt at a TruOil finish. Definitely not as glossy as lacquer. I know people do get glossier results, I need to study that if I ever do it again. I also know that its possible to buff shellac, I thought about that but don't think I will.
I had heard how physically hard doing FP was. Its no harder than sanding, maybe even easier because of the lubrication of the oil.
It took about as long as typical lacquer. I shoot three coats a day with sanding each day over a period of a week, the FP took 3 or 4 or 5 "sessions" per day over about a week.
The film thickness is much less than lacquer. I had an alcohol run that took the finish off to bare wood in a spot, I could see how thick it was. I'd guess a few mils - there is definitely a film but its not thick.
It is hard to FP in tight corners - next to the bridge and neck and fretboard. One guy talks about keeping his nails long to push the pad into corners, I didn't have great luck.
I used a fairly pale shellac but it certainly adds a bit of amber warmth to the finish.
I used the finishing resin as my pore filler and sanded back level with the wood. It worked OK but since I really wasn't trying for the grain popping effect I might use different filler in the future. There is a technique of sanding with the shellac and actually using wood dust in a slurry - I might try that. I would not pore fill spruce.
FP doesn't do a very good job of filling small voids. With lacquer I would just drop fill - apparently there is a technique of heating stick shellac with a hot pallet knife (C&N talk about it). I probably need to look into that next time.
Will there be a next time? If I ever build another classical or a lute or a mandolin I would probably French polish it. I think I would invest is Robbie O'Brien's videos so I could get a better gloss. I can't see any reason to put FP on a steel string guitar and never on an electric.
I'm glad I did it, there will be some pictures.
Seems like a lot of work, but the result seems to have been worth it (?)
I have heard of some newer guitars from some mid-large builders do a hybrid approach of late: doing a spray PU on back/sides (etc) and shellac/FP on the top. That thin finish on the top really helps get as much sound out of the top that is possible.
Congrats Freeman for taking it on. Thanks too, for doing such a good chronology of it's development. I am learning a lot, that's for sure.
That might make sense in a production setting where you needed to pore fill tropical hardwood on the back but not the spruce or cedar top, and the FP is certainly much thinner than most sprayed finishes. It was one of the rules I set before I started, I'm glad I did it.
Looked in my box of strings and found some hard tension Savarez strings, I would prefer medium but the stores are all closed. I'll probably end up taking them off and doing a few minor things in a week or two, so for now the hard tension will have to do.
Mounted the tuners and made a nut, you've seen all this before.
Made a saddle and threaded the tie block
I'm already not happy with my tie block, it is hard to thread the holes. I may need to make some minor changes in the valley. Anyway, tied 'em on
and tuned 'em up. Damn, the outside strings hit the edge of the ramp. I can fix that when I futz with the bridge.
Took it in the house, opened a nice cold adult beverage. Played the first note.
In your earlier pic of the OEM bridge next to the one used, I noticed that the bridge slot(s) sides were slightly higher than the OEM counterpart .. figured it wasn't worth mentioning, but maybe if I would have then I could have focused more attention in that area... (?)
Congrats on a magnificent accomplishment! This is lovely!
It is hard to photograph a guitar but here are a few glamour shots
And, as promised, here is my friend playing one of his compositions. Don't be afraid to turn it up.
Superb! Douglas fir never disappoints
Bravo! Beautiful job!
That sounds wonderful, and the guitar looks great, Freeman. Well done.
Sounds great Freeman!
Yes, it does sound very nice, and looks up to your usual standard which I'm thinking is what I'd aim for in my dreams. I do have a question; why would you never french polish a steel string top? My fave guitar my brother made, after spending a few years making mandolins, turns out he says it was french polished. It's definitely not as glossy as nitro, but sounds great...(to me, with 72 year old ears, one noticeably different than the other.) Roy
WOW. Amazing sound. Reminds me of a Jesse Cook like sound..
The reason I would not FP a steel string is simply that most of the time when I build a guitar, unlike this one, I choose the very best piece of wood that I can find and do my darnest to make a great looking guitar. I have enough experience with lacquer that I am very comfortable shooting it and I think I know what kind of results I will get. I simply don't want to go thru the learning curve of some other finish on a guitar that I have just invested a bunch of money and a bunch of time in.
If I were to ever do another FP I would take the time and expense of learning how to do a proper job - I would probably buy Robbie O'Brien's videos and study it and experiment on a lot of scrap. I could say the same about a lot of other finishing techniques - there are some new water born lacquers that seem to give good results and pre and post cat polys and many others, but why bother?
As I said in my FP debriefing above, this finish is fine, it compliments the wood on this guitar. It is far from my best finish and I would have to work to make it better. I did it more out of the challenge than anything else. I would say the same about my use of hide glue - it definitely makes the work harder, and while I probably will use it a little more in the future, most of the time I'll go back to good old Titebond.
This has been both educational and entertaining. Thank you for sharing your project!
The end result is a beautiful instrument! Congrats!
After doing that many sessions for that long I would be “spiriting off” with adult “spirits”! Well done.
I can relate, but I don't imbibe very often. I had a beer last year. But, I just finished (no pun intended) my 16th session on the TeleBaum neck and body back. So I really can relate.
Question for Freeman: Can I tint through the thin FP on the front of TeleBaum body? I'd like to dark stain the flames, and then amber burst to the center. The answer may be to sand back enough so the dark brown can penetrate into the flames? Then re-apply FP tinted to create the burst? Just thinking this through while I type. Your opinion is highly regarded. Thanks in advance.