Remedy for darker end grain?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by kiwi blue, Aug 10, 2020.

  1. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm in the process of finishing a swamp ash Tele body for a partscaster project. This is my first attempt at finishing a body, and I have very little woodworking experience in general. I'm learning as I go and really enjoying it.

    I'm using pure tung oil and a wood stain. I applied a coat of oil to the body, then a 50:50 mix of oil and a maple wood stain, followed by another coat of oil (letting it dry properly between coats). I'm happy with the front and back but the end grain on the sides is darker than I'd like. The first coat of oil was supposed to stop the stain soaking in too far (something I read somewhere) but didn't work too well on the sides.

    Today I've read about some techniques to prevent this in future, but is there any way I can remedy this on the body I have now? Obviously I could add more stain to the front and back so that they match the sides, but I don't want to make them any darker than they already are. If I sanded the sides would that help? Or would I be like the old lady who swallowed a fly and end up having to swallow a horse? It's a really nice body so I'd rather live with the imperfection than ruin it.
     
  2. Dano-caster

    Dano-caster Tele-Meister

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    Can you show some images? I'm having my own problems, but not with stain.Some one who knows will come along so photos may be helpful .End grain seems to be a touchy matter,Hope you get it worked out.
     
  3. Rjelecaster

    Rjelecaster Tele-Meister

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    Your best bet may be to do a burst.

    Once the endgrain has gobbled up some stain it usually tends to go nice and deep.
     
  4. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    If you are going to do stains (a colored liquid that is absorbed into the wood) then dealing with end grain is part of the process. It is ironic that we want the stain to go into different grains (flame, figure, quilt....) at different rates to highlight it but we don't want too much in end grain.

    You can use solvents while you are applying stains to "pull it back" but that should be tested on scrap. Any time I am staining I keep a solvent soaked rag handy. I will sometimes spray stain with an airbrush to have better control over it. Selective sanding can also help remove some of the stain from certain areas.

    The other option is to prevent the "stain" from soaking into the wood by sealing the wood. In my book that is no longer a stain, it is a colored finish put on top of the wood. That is perfectly acceptable and is the way most modern colored finishes are done - its infinitely easier than trying to color the wood.

    Anytime I am going to apply any sort of color to any piece of wood I try it out on scrap (of the same wood) until I have the process completely dialed. Sometimes I find I can't get the results I envision - in that case I'm glad I didn't do my experimenting on my guitar.

    But to quote from your first post "(something I read somewhere) but didn't work too well on the sides." is exactly what you just did with my reply....
     
  5. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

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    Sounds like it's best to just leave it alone. It's not perfect but not such a big deal either. Here are some pics. They were taken under artificial light so the colours aren't completely accurate, but good enough. You can see what looks like light reflections on the side on pics, but it's actually lighter patches where the grain runs parallel.

    3979E94C-12F4-4526-BDE8-F1A5DD767B82.jpeg 2F106757-9174-4404-BEAB-61D8180A7AD4.jpeg 8A0D002C-92F4-455A-85E0-F730D427436B.jpeg
     
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  6. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Holic

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    At this point I would leave it alone. To me, the endgrain looks lighter than the grain on the body. It looks great!
     
  7. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for taking the time to reply in detail. I did do some tests on scrap but because it was a pre-made body from Guitar Mill I didn't have any scrap ash and had to use radiata pine, which is the closest I could get in colour. I knew it wouldn't be exactly the same but it was better than no testing at all. Ash just isn't freely available in NZ. Because I'm a newbie, it didn't occur to me to test it on end grain.

    I don't get too upset by mistakes. I treat them as a learning opportunity, and I have learned a lot from this process already. Being my first attempt, and being aware of my lack of skills, tools, and experience, I went conservatively.
     
  8. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks. Probably not worth trying to sand it off then. I suspected it might be too deep for that. A burst is a good idea but it would be beyond me right now I think. I'd be swallowing a horse there I reckon!
     
  9. corliss1

    corliss1 Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Do you know you built it backwards??? :D
     
  10. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

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    I think that's a trick of the light. The photo of the back looks darker than in reality. But you are right. I'll leave it alone and just add a couple of tung oil clear coats.
     
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  11. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Holic

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    Different woods react differently to stains. That is why it is a good idea to consider and test sealers and fillers on the type of wood you are working on. Some woods benefit from using a filler to fill some of the grain before applying stain. Some fillers, if not sealed, can suck up stain as much as the endgrain. A good place to test endgrain is inside the routed cavities. Experience means a lot and even the pros have problems sometimes. Wood is a live being and can fight you if your karma isn't right.

    You did a great job! It looks nice. Enjoy the build!
     
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  12. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

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    Rats!
     
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  13. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Friend of Leo's

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    ..
     
  14. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

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    Here's how it turned out after another two coats of pure tung oil. These pics were taken in direct sunlight, which is one reason they look different to the earlier ones. I'm happy with it now. Just going to leave it a few weeks for the tung oil to harden.

    You can see the original bare wood in the neck pocket and pickup cavities for comparison.


    813DA6E9-1FCB-4193-ABBE-FC0E7F30673E.jpeg 8141EAED-A13E-4EE2-939D-E25341FFE368.jpeg
     
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  15. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Holic

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    SWEET!
     
  16. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Friend of Leo's

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    an old cabinet makers trick for staining end grain on wood doors and end grain face frames is to sand the end grain at a much higher grit to make it smoother so it doesn't absorb as much stain as the face grain.
     
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