Translucent green on ash with waterbased finishes?

Mike.D

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I'm working on a swamp ash build and trying to figure out how I can get a translucent green finish. I've had really good luck using General Finishes High Performance top coats on woodworking projects so I was hoping I could go that route with the guitar.

I'm thinking it would go something like this...

1. Raise grain and sand back a few times
2. Grainfill
3. Spray green tinted GF a few coats to get the right color
4. Spray more clear coats for protection
5. Sand, buff, etc

Would this work? Any tips are appreciated!!! I don't currently have a spray set up but was thinking about maybe trying a Prevail or investing in an Earlex HVLP set up ($300ish at Woodcraft)
 

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Freeman Keller

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Those are the basic steps but you don't say what you are using for "grainfill" or how you are applying it, any sealers, what you are tinting your GF with, whether GF even sprays, what clear coats you are applying. Learn to operate your spray gun on scrap. Experiment with your finishing products on scrap. Dan Erlewine's book on guitar finishing is a good place to start but he is only dealing with solvent and water born lacquers (which is what I would be using if I wanted a trans green guitar). Good luck.
 

Peegoo

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Experiment with your finishing products on scrap.

^^^This. And if you have any other questions, ^^^THIS.

I've gotten pretty good results with liquid food coloring as a stain on bare wood. Some folks claim it will fade over time, but if you use a clear topcoat with UV inhibitors the colors stay bright.

Another way to keep colors bright on light-colored woods like maple and ash is to not wait long between final sanding/staining and sealing. Wood oxidizes fairly quickly and becomes darker due to exposure to air. The faster you get freshly-sanded wood sealed, the less gray it will be--and the brighter & more vibrant your stain colors will be.
 

Mike.D

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Those are the basic steps but you don't say what you are using for "grainfill" or how you are applying it, any sealers, what you are tinting your GF with, whether GF even sprays, what clear coats you are applying. Learn to operate your spray gun on scrap. Experiment with your finishing products on scrap. Dan Erlewine's book on guitar finishing is a good place to start but he is only dealing with solvent and water born lacquers (which is what I would be using if I wanted a trans green guitar). Good luck.

I probably didn't include every step because that's what I'm trying to figure out 🤩

I have green Transtint...forgot to add that! From folks I've talked to at Woodcraft, GF High Performance should spray nicely. I'd planned to use that as the top coats and hoped I could tint it too since Transtint can be mixed with water.

Stewmac has powered grain fillers to mix with water. Figured I'd probably use a dark one of those, squeegee it on and sand back when dry.

Most stuff I've seen online talks about lacquer based finishes and I'm trying to avoid that.

Thanks!
 

Freeman Keller

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I probably didn't include every step because that's what I'm trying to figure out 🤩

The StewMac lacquer finishing schedule is pretty good whether you are using lacquer or any other finish.


You'll have to work it out with your own products.
 

gb Custom Shop

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I would probably do a sealer coat before grain filling. If you use a water-based grain filler, expect it to shrink back a bit. As well, you'll need to make sure you sand back the WB grain filler on the face grain adequately - if you don't, it could show up cloudy under your clear coat (some products may vary in that regard)

Alternatively you could use a thin resin product for grain filling, which would minimize shrinkage. This could act as your initial seal coat and grain filler. For ash, I would recommend a resin sealer/filler, just because the pores can be quite deep.

If you are new to hvlp spraying, you'll definitely want to practice. Tinted waterborne polyurethanes are easy to get wrong. If you spray too much in one area, it'll be darker than the rest, and that can be very difficult to deal with. Personally I'd be inclined to try the emtech WB clear, because of its burn in properties, but I can't say I have experience with this product (although some other members on this forum do with good success)

You could also stain the wood, so you don't have to deal with tinted WB clearcoats. For that you'd want to stain before grain filling. But the challenge there is sanding back your grain filler without going into your colour. If you add enough sealer coats before grain filling, that will help minimize your chances of sanding thru.

These are just some considerations for your project, and I don't mean to discourage your plans (which can still work as is with the proper applications & techniques). Just giving you a heads up of what can go wrong, because I've been there before! 🙂
 

Mike.D

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I would probably do a sealer coat before grain filling. If you use a water-based grain filler, expect it to shrink back a bit. As well, you'll need to make sure you sand back the WB grain filler on the face grain adequately - if you don't, it could show up cloudy under your clear coat (some products may vary in that regard)

Alternatively you could use a thin resin product for grain filling, which would minimize shrinkage. This could act as your initial seal coat and grain filler. For ash, I would recommend a resin sealer/filler, just because the pores can be quite deep.

If you are new to hvlp spraying, you'll definitely want to practice. Tinted waterborne polyurethanes are easy to get wrong. If you spray too much in one area, it'll be darker than the rest, and that can be very difficult to deal with. Personally I'd be inclined to try the emtech WB clear, because of its burn in properties, but I can't say I have experience with this product (although some other members on this forum do with good success)

You could also stain the wood, so you don't have to deal with tinted WB clearcoats. For that you'd want to stain before grain filling. But the challenge there is sanding back your grain filler without going into your colour. If you add enough sealer coats before grain filling, that will help minimize your chances of sanding thru.

These are just some considerations for your project, and I don't mean to discourage your plans (which can still work as is with the proper applications & techniques). Just giving you a heads up of what can go wrong, because I've been there before! 🙂
Thank you!! Lots to think about! Does ash take stain evenly if I were to stain directly to avoid tinting the clear coats?

These alot of practice ahead of me but I don't want to start off on the wrong track.
 

schmee

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I have wiped on water base stains and put even nitro over them fine. I imagine it would be fine with water based finish...
 

gb Custom Shop

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Thank you!! Lots to think about! Does ash take stain evenly if I were to stain directly to avoid tinting the clear coats?

These alot of practice ahead of me but I don't want to start off on the wrong track.
It's tough to generalize the species IMO. You might find some pieces of ash that take stain beautifully, and some others that may come out blotchy. If you can do tests on a cut off from the actual blank, that would be best.

In any case, if you notice it is a bit blotchy, you could lay down an initial coat of shellac (or some other sealer), sand that back a touch once dried, and then apply your dye stain. That would help mitigate blotchiness and provide even penetration of your stain.

But if going the staining route, I would do a test of shellac then stain, and stain direct on bare wood, and compare to see what I prefer.
 

Mike.D

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It's tough to generalize the species IMO. You might find some pieces of ash that take stain beautifully, and some others that may come out blotchy. If you can do tests on a cut off from the actual blank, that would be best.

In any case, if you notice it is a bit blotchy, you could lay down an initial coat of shellac (or some other sealer), sand that back a touch once dried, and then apply your dye stain. That would help mitigate blotchiness and provide even penetration of your stain.

But if going the staining route, I would do a test of shellac then stain, and stain direct on bare wood, and compare to see what I prefer.
Sure makes sense. Thanks!!
 

Beebe

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I make grain filler using kaolin clay with a bit of gum arabic and water. It looks and smells a lot like the Ash filler Stewmac sells.

But a clear water based filler might be better for you.

And I would seal the wood before spraying color to avoid any of it absorbing into the wood. And also spray over the filler to avoid any color absorbing into that.

If you are ok using Shellac it makes a great sealer. You can dissolve flakes in 190 Proof Everclear (so it's non toxic) and it works great with the Preval units.

I would actually do multiple coats of Shellac before and after the grain filler and sand to a super flat surface before spraying color.

It'll make leveling the clear after the color coats a lot easier.

And if you are going for a glossy mirror type finish, you'll need a lot more than a few coats of clear if you don't want to sand through your color.
 

Beebe

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Thank you!! Lots to think about! Does ash take stain evenly if I were to stain directly to avoid tinting the clear coats?

These alot of practice ahead of me but I don't want to start off on the wrong track.

In my experience, Ash takes stain pretty well. Staining the wood directly will have a different look than tinted clear though.

Get some Ash boards to practice on.

It's that super deep grain that is the most difficult part about working with Ash if you want a smooth finish.

When I first started, I assumed that going through the motions of putting on a couple applications of grain filler was enough.

It's really hard to tell how level the surface is until you start sanding a clear coat over it.

The "grain filling" step should be called the "leveling" step. It's about getting a perfectly level surface using inexpensive easy to work with materials before applying the more expensive ones.
 

Beebe

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Oh and green can be a tricky color to get to pop, as the wood isn't white and can often darken with application of products working against you.

You might want to play around with dark grain fillers, semi transparent white, and then green tinted clear over that... or something along these lines.

If you decide to stain the wood directly you might want to experiment with bleaching the wood first using a two part A/B wood bleach. I've gotten better results when staining greens and blues on Ash this way.
 




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