Starting a partscaster build- need some finishing input

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by illinismitty, Jan 14, 2020.

  1. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire

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    Freeman, the OP is attempting to dye only the figured maple top, and leave the rest un-colored, so we're trying to keep all color off the end grain area. :)

    As far as sealing before staining: generally I like to apply stain to bare wood, but there are no hard and fast rules. Sometimes you need to use some kind of sealer to get the results you are looking for. Really the only way to predict how something will look is to try it out on scraps. Keep written records of each experiment, or you will forget.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
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  2. Bergy

    Bergy Tele-Holic

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    Welcome, illinismitty! Looks like you're off to a great start. Can't wait to see that final product.

    I love the look of blue guitars...and may happen to own a few. =) I’m a noob at finishing wood, but I recently got some of the Keda Blue dye (liquid). I've only run 1 set of scrap tests. It was on pine and I've clearly got some adjustments to make! I did a dilution (in acetone) and then added a few undiluted drops on the application cloth. I seem to remember the Keda guys doing that in a video but they got better results than I did. Also was also testing out shou sugi ban (blow torching), with and without brush back. Pardon the poor lighting.

    CF29FC4F-42EB-4362-B5EA-D2313F3A381B.jpeg

    Upper left got really muddy after blow torch +steel brush scrub back. Cool texture from the scrubbing but it looked like poopoo.
    Upper right, blow torch no scrub, got a little over concentrated on the blue.
    Bottom left, blow torch no scrub, was too splotchy after lowering the concentrations.
    Bottom right, blow torch no scrub was our final attempt before we got demoralized and gave up for the night, lol. Used a wood conditioner to reduce the blotchiness. Still not happy with the saturation, though.
     
  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, what I assumed from his first picture is that top is not bound and it does have a round over. I assumed that he would take his blue color to the seam between the top and back. That means that the ~1/4 inch of maple side and round over will be mostly end grain and will absorb more stain than the top. I like that look, whether you call it an edge 'burst or whatever, I usually try to make the outside rim of the guitar darker and it there was no binding (I bind everything) then I would want that darker color to wrap around the side of the maple.

    He will have a masking/sealing issue at the seam - one of the reasons I asked about whether you seal before staining. I have had some luck painting shellac or vinyl sealer right up to a binding or purfling line that I want to protect from stain, but it is really hard to get a sharp line. Its much easier with color in the finish where you can mask and scrape, but with stains that are absorbed into the wood there is often some bleeding across the seam.

    Its interesting that the blue piece of maple that I showed earlier I masked off so just the edge was showing and sprayed some vinyl sealer on the end grain. After doing all the experiments with stains I scraped that back and it had left the wood completely unstained - that convinced me that I could do a PRS faux binding if I ever wanted to.

    Here is another picture of that test piece with the sides and that little edge scraped back to bare wood and a couple of coats of lacquer shot just to bring out the gloss a bit. On the far side is the area that was sealed before staining, for me it is unacceptable.

    IMG_5552.JPG

    Also if this was a real guitar the edge facing would be the rim, thats what i mean by saying I like to make it darker to the rim and fading towards the center.
     
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  4. illinismitty

    illinismitty TDPRI Member

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    Does anyone know if the varathane sanding sealer will place nice with the Miniwax clear lacquer?
     
  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I can't answer your last question but my philosophy has always been to use products from the same manufacture that THEY say will work together. I even buy thinners from the same manufacture as the lacquer I'm using - a few cents more is cheap when you are dealing with finish. Obviously the answer to your question will come when you try it on scrap.

    Looking back on some of my responses during this thread I want to stress one thing - I do not use Colortone dye right out of the bottle to stain my wood. I dilute it many fold in alcohol - basically what I end up with is colored alcohol. I try that on a piece of wood - if it looks good I'll carefully apply it to my guitar. I keep a clean rag dampened with alcohol to blend and pull back some of the stain if it looks too dark. Its always easy to make it darker - either applying another coat or putting a couple more drops of the dye into the mixture.

    The other thing that might be helpful here is applying a fairly dark stain which would be absorbed into the curl and flame, then sanding that back to almost white (which will leave the flame fairly dark) and applying a more dilute wash to fill in the non flamed areas. I have very effectively used other colors to bring out the flame, but since they were not blue I won't show any of it here.
     
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  6. illinismitty

    illinismitty TDPRI Member

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    That's a good point. I will just return the Varathane and get the Mini wax brand. Our home depot doesnt carry Mini wax sanding sealer, but carries the lacquer. WTH? So I will have to go across the street to Lowes. On a side note, my body was supposed to be here Wednesday. It left a sort facility 2 hours away on Tuesday, and has no updates since then. ARGH! Otherwise I would have some test photos to show you guys.
     
  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I would like to show my little experiment in more detail. I did it last summer and for different reasons that your guitar, but you might use it as a foundation for what you are doing. However it very important that you do your own test on your own wood with your own products.

    I had two goals in mind - I wanted to test the difference between using alcohol and water as the vehicles for the stain and I wanted to test the premise that wood should be "sealed" before staining. I've been staining and finishing guitars for a few years but had never really compared those to elements of the process. I had a nice piece of flamed maple to experiment on and I had some of the finishing products that I customarily use. The blue color was somewhat arbitrary - I had the dye but had never worked with it. I did not have a guitar in mind however.

    I document everything I do, particularly an experiment like this. I started by sanding the maple to 320, masked off one half and applied a coat of vinyl sealer of the same brand as the lacquer I was using at the time - I just brushed it on but normally I would spray it

    IMG_5536.JPG

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    I divided the wood into four sections - two of them have the vinyl sealer, two do not. I mixed some blue stain by dissolving the same number of drops of the Colortone dye in the same amount of DA in one cup and water in the other. No I did not measure, no I do not remember how much. The two mixtures are close enough.

    IMG_5538.JPG

    Put on the latex gloves and started wiping

    IMG_5539.JPG

    Applied some more

    IMG_5541.JPG

    Its pretty obvious that the bare wood is absorbing the stains, the sealed wood is resisting the stain. The water based stain (right) doesn't want to adhere to the sealer at all, the alcohol based stain is a little better but pretty blotchy. I tried lightly sanding the sections, again the stain comes right off the sealed areas, on the upper sections I can somewhat control the penetration of the stain by sanding some out of the wood.

    IMG_5543.JPG

    Conclusions at this point - vinyl sealer prevents the stain from being absorbed into the wood. Both the alcohol and water based stains worked fine, I think I see a bit more color with the alcohol.
     
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  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    With that in mind I decided to experiment a bit further. I have some spray SM lacquer "sanding sealer" - lets see how it works under the stain. I've decided that I'll use the alcohol based stain, not that there is a big difference but it doesn't raise the grain as much and I've been told it is more compatible with the lacquer that I'll put on top.

    Flip the board over, mask it in half this time and spray the sanding sealer on one side. Note that I left a very thin line unmasked around the edge of the left side - that got a good coat of the sealer along with the sides and ends of the wood

    IMG_5544.JPG

    Wiped my alcohol based stain on trying to get more of the color fading effect - darker along the edge and lightening towards the center. I'm doing this totally with wiping the stain on and going over it with a rag with some DA. I'm not trying for the same level of color that I would with a guitar - just fooling around

    IMG_5548.JPG

    Pulled the center masking tape, did a little scraping around the edge and shot a coat of lacquer just to give it some gloss. Crappy rattle can roughness in spots - if I was doing this for real I would be using my gun and a bit more care


    IMG_5550.JPG

    The takeaway from this - the sanding sealer did exactly the same thing as the vinyl stuff - it sealed the wood so stain doesn't soak in. That might be an advantage for you, its not for me. I decided not to use any sealer (obviously there are many that I didn't experiment with - shellac is the biggie - but I simply don't like what I am seeing.

    Second, I think I could come up with a pretty interesting blue finish on flamed maple using my stain. I would want to work with it some more, probably applying a dark coat, then sanding that back and putting some lighter coats back in the white. But it could be promising

    Third, the fact that both the sealers did such a good job of keeping the stain out of the wood I am pretty confident that I could use it to do a faux binding ala PRS. I currently paint it on to binding and purfling that I don't want to stain, this just confirms what I was already doing.

    Fourth - anyone who takes my little test or anything that anyone else says on the internet and copies it on their $200 piece of flamed maple is a fool. Do your own tests on your own wood with your own products. Your results WILL vary.
     
  9. illinismitty

    illinismitty TDPRI Member

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    This is REALLY useful info. Alcohol is definitely more vibrant. Thanks a million.
     
  10. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Thinking about this to day I have two further thoughts. If that was a cutoff of a guitar on my workbench and I really wanted the blue finish I would do one more experiment. I would take that piece thru the sander and take it down to bare wood again and mark it off in three zones. If I had kept that DA stain that I was using earlier I would divide it in three parts - other wise make some more. To one part I would add twice as much dye - if I had used 5 drops now it would have 10. The second would stay the same, the third would get diluted 1:1 with alcohol. Now I would start working the three zones of the maple with the different stains. They all should be the same color but they will be very different in intensity and the wood should absorb them differently. I would try the most concentrated one on one part of the wood, then sand it back to near white to see how the stain stays in the figure.

    When I look at your wood I don't see as much flame as in mine but I do see a hell of a lot of quilt - I'll bet if you wipe it with naphtha it will just be a mass of rolly hills and valleys - more like the wood on my brown telecaster. That is going to be absolutely stunning, but you might have to really work to get the rolling hills and not obscure them with too much color. That would more or less be the same process that I just described but instead of trying to optimize the flame you want to work with that quilt.

    I've got a piece of highly quilted maple on my work bench right now, here it is under some naphtha

    1213191530a.jpg
     
  11. zcostilla

    zcostilla TDPRI Member

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    Lots of great advice here
     
  12. illinismitty

    illinismitty TDPRI Member

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    Update- the builder of the body forgot to send scraps. So I had to grab a unfigured sheet of maple from a friends workshop. Not the same wood I know, but its something to practice one. As I was warned, vibrant blue is tricky. Too little, you have aquamarine, too much and you have dark navy.

    I will post my first test run tomorrow. Not sure how I am going to get that clean edge between the maple and alder on the sides. Fun....
     
  13. illinismitty

    illinismitty TDPRI Member

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    You are correct. Lots of quilt in there if you hold at the right angle. I do want to accent the hills and valleys. I assume black dye, sand until you get the effect. Then color over top. But dang it, he forgot to send me the scrap cuts.
     
  14. illinismitty

    illinismitty TDPRI Member

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    Got started. You can see I tested blue, 1 with one coat of black, 1 with 2 coats, and 1 with no black. Then one half of each square has sealer and lacquer so I have a reference for what the dried uncoated finish needs to be. My first coat of black is on. As you can see, there is quilt buried in there.

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  15. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted

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    20200119_202118.jpg
    This was water base dye with a water poly top. I did not seal prior, and had to light sand a bit after the first coats but it was pretty much the look I thought I would get.
     
  16. illinismitty

    illinismitty TDPRI Member

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    Here is the progress thus far. Top has a coat of sealer. I got a clean edge for 98% of it.

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    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Lookin' good.
     
  18. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire

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    Nice! I really like the color.
     
  19. illinismitty

    illinismitty TDPRI Member

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    I was not happy with the raw wood color of the sides and back. But I did not want to dye it because of bleeding onto the blue. So I tinted the sanding sealer. Very happy with the results.

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. illinismitty

    illinismitty TDPRI Member

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    Ok guys. While I am waiting for it to be warm enough to spray lacquer in the garage, everything is done. For the most part, the edge between the blue maple top and binding is clean. There are a few spots that are not that bother me. I am wondering if I could do a 1/8" faux binding with some pinstripe tape to just create a clean transition. Has anyone done this with success? If so what brand tape and how many coats of lacquer were needed in order to create a flush finish?
     
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