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So many options with nitro but not a clue!

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by itsmedant, Feb 26, 2021.

  1. itsmedant

    itsmedant Tele-Meister

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    Hey all,

    I've been reading as much as I can on here about the different ways to finish a guitar. I have my heart set on nitro and I've been waffling between aerosol vs HVLP. I have a compressor and a gun already from some other projects, but I've never sprayed nitro.

    My biggest question is this: what are the right products to use?

    I know thats a broad question there, but I read everyone saying "oh just use sealer and then do a washout coat, THEN spray your clear nitro" and it confuses me! Not the steps themselves, but what sealer/grainfiller/washout do i need to get when spraying nitro?


    I think I'm getting the mohawk instrument lacquer and I have a bunch of water based (clear) grain filler, but not sure if water based grain filler + nitro = bad.

    Also the primer, is it just nitro mixed with a primer based dye or tint? Or is there a specific primer that matches with the mohawk nitro?

    And the last, sealer. In other woodworking, I've always seen sealer as the first coat you put on there, you are "sealing up" the wood. Is there a specific sealer that works best with the mohawk nitro?


    I'd hate to ask all of this, not really one for hand holding but I'm lost and have no one around me that knows this stuff!
     
  2. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Start with Dan Erlewine's book on guitar finishing - he will explain all the steps. StewMac is in business to sell you stuff, but they do have a pretty integrated product line (we have one regular forumite who doesn't like their stuff). I try to stick with one manufacture (I was using Behlens until it went away) - I'm particularly careful to use the same brand thinner (reducer) as the lacquer itself - I know that different manufacture's thinners are different. (I use generic lacquer thinner from the hardware store for cleanup)

    I'm careful to watch humidity and temperature - my only failure was my own fault - I got impatient and shot when the humidity was too high. I do follow the cardinal rule of experimenting on scraps of the same wood as my guitar.

    Solvent based (nitrocellulose) lacquer is about the easiest finish for the home builder. It is toxic and explosive - you need to deal with that but as far as the quality of your finish its pretty easy to control. The StewMac (Erlewine) finishing schedule is good - if you pay attention to the kind of wood you are dealing with and follow recommendations about pore filling and prep you shouldn't have any trouble
     
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  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'll add to the above that giving specific steps is somewhat dependent on the wood(s) you are finishing and the effects that you are after. StewMac's schedule is good - I more or less follow it.

    - Sand and prep the wood to 320
    - Stains if I'm going to
    - Grain enhancement if I'm going to
    - Seal with vinly sealer or shellac
    - Color coats, bursts, fades.....
    - Clear coats
    - Wet sand to 2000, buff

    Not all woods or guitars will get all those steps and as I said before, I practice on scrap.

    IMG_3369.JPG
     
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  4. itsmedant

    itsmedant Tele-Meister

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    My wife literally just bought me the finishing kit from Stewmac with the book.

    https://www.stewmac.com/kits-and-pr...ing-sets/colortone-aerosol-finishing-kit.html

    I'm going to try that out for now, but i know I'm going to want to get into the full gun/compressor set up pretty soon.

    Also, that picture in your second post....thats exactly what I needed to see! Perfect layout of the steps and different but compatible mixes. I also plan on calling Mohawk before I order to make sure everything is all good with what I'm getting.

    Thanks so much for the reply! I have a neck through tele I started years ago that I never finished and my wife got me a double neck SG kit to put together for my birthday. Its lit that fire again and I want to start building regularly!
     
  5. Wyatt

    Wyatt Tele-Afflicted

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    Do you have a body? What kind of wood? What color do you want? Transparent? Opaque?

    Best to stay in one system, if you spraying Mohawk Instrument Lacquer, then use their vinyl sealer (comes in clear or white), and clear coat (Stewmac is relabeled Mohawk/Behlen). And, yes, you can use water-based grain filler, most people do this days because of health and workshop safety (but your mileage may vary by product). The solvent in the sealer or lacquer won't have a problem with it.

    In Virginia, without a spray facility, you limited Spring/Fall windows before humidity makes it more difficult to work with nitro.
     
  6. itsmedant

    itsmedant Tele-Meister

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    Awesome! That's good to know....i have a good amount of it from another project!

    Yep! I have 2, one is mahogany and one is cherry with a maple neck through.

    The mahogany one = opaque coloring, maybe sherwood green
    tele = transparent

    But I plan to do alot more after these two!

    Funny you say this........I may or may not have already started getting supplies to build one in my garage, complete with explosion proof fan.
     
  7. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    Lacquer primer or sealer has more solids in it than topcoat finishes.

    It also has additives that make it easier to sand.

    If you want to stick with one manufacturer for your finishes (a good idea) you might check out Mohawk vinyl sealer.

    Water based grain fillers like Aqua Coat work good under lacquer.
    .
     
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  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    A double neck SG just calls out to be cherry red.

    IMG_5851.JPG

    However the one that I build for my son ended up clear

    IMG_6254.JPG
     
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  9. itsmedant

    itsmedant Tele-Meister

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    I know I know I know...my first thought was cherry red. My first decent guitar was a SG I picked up at a pawn shop years and years ago. She bit the bullet a while back and I’ve had that itch to get a new one. I ended up getting such a great deal on a les Paul that I forgot about SGs.

    I want to do some sort of tribute to that guitar...I had it through a lot of high school and would paint it really crazy colors all the time. Of course it was all spray paint and looked hideous so I wanted to do a different color on this one to remember my ever changing SG. That was the guitar I played in every show or recording I ever did...but alas, the neck snapped off and I didn’t know how to fix it.

    Luckily I saved the parts, maybe I’ll try to clean the joint up and re-glue it!


    On your SG, I notice the 2 input jacks. Are both guitars wired separately instead of using a switch to jump between the 2?

    Thanks again for your fast replies and help! Looks like my stew Mac kit will be here today or tomorrow!
     
  10. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Frankly I don't remember. It is not my guitar, a friend loaned it to me while I was building the other one. I remember that it had some weird switching options - I want to say that you could bring each neck out to a separate signal chain and amp and chose that with the white switch or you could blend to the two necks to one output. I noodled around with the guitar but really didn't figure out all it could do. If you look closely it also has some sort of midi thingie at the very butt end, that goes up to its own pickup just ahead of the 6 string bridge. I asked my friend about that, he shrugged and said "some times you want you guitar to sound like an oboe"....

    On mine I did very simple switching, each neck has a single tone and volume and three position neck-both-bridge. In the both position there is no blending like you would have with separate tone and volume. Then there is a three position that selects 6-both-12 string necks. The center position allows fast movement between the necks but puts the pickups in parallel - that changes the sound quite a bit.

    I don't know if you are interested in wading thru the build thread for mine. Finishing stuff starts on page 7

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/double-trouble.1003555/

    And at the same time I was building mine, another forumite was making something closer to the EDS 1275

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/double-neck-12-6-eds-1275-jimmy-p-tribute-build.979701/

    Looking forward to seeing yours.
     
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  11. dan40

    dan40 Friend of Leo's

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    I love the Mohawk sanding sealer, primer and clear gloss but I usually use the Stewmac Colortone for the actual color coat. I have had good luck spraying here in Richmond anytime between March and June. Just be sure that it's not too humid on the days you plan to spray.
     
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  12. itsmedant

    itsmedant Tele-Meister

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    I like that idea for the pickups. I plan on trying a bunch of different wiring set ups. I’m fairly handy with a soldering iron, was working as an apprentice pedal maker years ago and I’ve always loved tweaking stuff.

    thanks for the links, going to dig through and get some ideas! I guess I need to start a build thread for this kit...
     
  13. itsmedant

    itsmedant Tele-Meister

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    That’s good to know! I plan to do all the prep work on my tele and the Sg and get all my research and gear set up so come March, I’m all set and ready to go!
     
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  14. itsmedant

    itsmedant Tele-Meister

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    My stewmac kit and book are out for delivery!

    thanks again everyone for the advice!
     
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  15. itsmedant

    itsmedant Tele-Meister

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    @Freeman Keller i just finished reading through your build thread of the double neck.

    That is the type of work I want to do. Come up with a fun idea, and see it through each step. This kit is just the spark the interest again and it surely has done that!
     
  16. itsmedant

    itsmedant Tele-Meister

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    Time to do some reading!

    Also, here’s a picture of the tele I started a while back. Neck needs shaping, body needs some final sanding and shaping as well as the control cavity on the back. I started it when I only had hand tools and got that far....now I’m ready to finish it up!
     

    Attached Files:

  17. dan40

    dan40 Friend of Leo's

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    Make sure you have the proper respirator with the correct filter cartridges when you spray. Since I only do an occasional finishing job, I normally do all of my spraying outside on a still day. Even when working outside with good ventilation, the need for a good respirator cannot be understated. I use the same model with the pink cartridges that Freeman Keller shows in post 3.
     
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  18. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    The one thing they never tell you is proper humidity. I bought some rattle cans from Texas once, and their instruction just said not to spray when the humidity is "high."

    So I sprayed when it was around maybe 80%. That's a guess, I didn't check it. That's not high for here, but apprarently it is for Texas. It just didn't feel very muggy that day.

    Anyhow, what a mess. It looked like I'd smeared it with Bosco.

    Erlwine's book is great, but he doesn't give exact humidity thresholds, either.

    So I learned the hard way to only spray when it feels dry. My bet is it should be under 60% or 70% when the temperature is around seventy degrees. But I don't know. I'm sure someone else here does.
     
  19. itsmedant

    itsmedant Tele-Meister

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    Good info to know! It gets pretty muggy around here so Ill definitely need to pay attention to that!
     
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