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Thread: High gloss finishing in Australia

  1. #1

    High gloss finishing in Australia

    Hi all

    I am planning on building my first kit. An SG with a mahogany body and neck, and I want to have a high gloss finish like this.

    Not sure of the mahogany species so it may be a dark solid red or a Shorea Spp. (lighter pale also known as Meranti). If it is the latter I will be staining as well as finishing.

    A couple of questions, particularly with products available in Australia:

    1. Products to get a deep gloss finish - what are the best products available in Australia for grain filler and polyurethane finish?

    2. What is the best method for getting even staining or finish colour on end grain?

    I have tried some test pieces with Feast Watson Sanding Sealer and Feast Watson Polyurethane Gloss but not sure of what else is out there.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Member
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    Mar 2016
    Location
    Wyndham Vale
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    After using most ways of finishing guitars, I have settled, for now, on how to finish my guitars all year round without having to worry about outside weather conditions, and an understanding wife.

    I sand my guitar until I am happy with the finish using 240 sandpaper. Clean the surface normally with a wipe of a solution that evaporates completely, normally Shelite and apply Feast Watson sanding sealer, giving it a good coat. I then sand with 400 wet and dry/ sand paper until smooth and then give it a thin second coat just to make sure the finish is as smooth as possible. I then sand a second time to definitely make sure it is as smooth as possible, normally using a ScotchBrite as it gives a very fine finish. The flatter the material is the flatter the finish you will get. Surface prep is the most important part of the painting process. Try not to sand too heavy and remove too much sealer. The sealer gives you the even stain finish, even on end grain.

    I then choose what stain I will use in the Feast Watson range and then thin to the shade I want. I have never found using undiluted stain gives me the shade I want, normally much too dark. It is much easier to use a couple of coats than to apply stain and then sand back. Most importantly always follow the instructions on any product you use to achieve the finish you want. I apply the stain and give it time to dry, normally overnight.

    I use Cabots water based poly as it is easy to obtain where I live. Water base has a few advantages over solvent. You get all the clean up solution from your tap, you don't need to buy solvents like Turps and to dispose of the solution you can throw it in your garden. Water doesn't smell so you can do it inside, this is where the understanding wife comes into it. I do all my finishing inside so I don't have to worry about what the outside temp is as I have a ceiling fan in my room and can keep the temp fairly regulated and the moving air helps with drying. Water based products also have to a certain degree self levelling so it helps with any small surface irregularities that solvent based doesn't. The working temp for water base is wider than solvent based products. The only slight downside is it may raise the surface of the wood if you don't use a sealer but this can be overcome by lightly sanding after each coat.

    I apply normally 3-4 coats as it is all I need to produce a gloss finish. I apply 2 good coats which means the surface should look wet but not enough to give you runs. I use a cloth to apply my finish and not a brush. I have found I can get a roll of Chux cloth, the blue with white spots material you use in the kitchen for cleaning, as it is very cheap and can be thrown away in your rubbish. After the second coat I use a white ScotchBrite which is the finest one you can get, I get mine from Amazon. Don't use one that you use in the kitchen to wash your dishes with as the white ones have a grit on them that acts like an abrasive. They are not cheap but I have done quite a few guitars with a single one as you can clean them by hitting them on a flat surface. I apply a third coat and again just give it a fine sand just to make sure the surface is completely flat. By using the pads I don't have to worry about wet sanding and maybe damaging the wood by it swelling. I normally leave it to dry for a few days but you can polish it the next day as it should dry very quickly but its not worth rushing.

    I then use a foam polishing pad in my drill to polish it to a gloss finish with some cutting compound. You just have to be careful not to polish through the poly. I can do it easy as I have done a few guitars so just be mindful not to polish it long in the same spot and don't polish along edges and use very little down pressure, it wont get flatter by pushing down harder. Polish up to the edge and not over as you will remove the finish pretty quick. If the edge feels a little bit rough you can use a cloth and finish it by hand. If you get the wood as flat as possible with the sealer and sanding then the poly should be as close to gloss before sanding and polishing and wont need much polishing with the pad. The only guitar I have used Tru-oil on I used a single coat and it came up a gloss finish without a need to polish. But this process does take time to get the required skill base to get the results you want. Get a piece of wood and practice before you try it on your guitar.
    Builds :
    # 1 - Non PBG ES-335
    # 2 - Non PBG Tele Thin line
    # 3 - Non PBG LP
    # 4 - Non PBG SG
    # 5 - RC-1
    # 6 - TL-1
    # 7 - ST-1 Custom
    # 8 - SGB-30 + Non PBG SG
    # 9 - Custom JRM-1DC 12 String
    #10 - Custom ST-1 with P90's
    #11 - Custom TL-1 with 27" Bari Neck
    #12 - Custom JZ-6 Jazzmaster
    #13 - AG-1 Factory Second
    #14 - Custom JZ-6 Bass vi
    #15 - EX-1R Factory Second
    #16 - AGM-1
    #17 - EXA-7

  3. #3
    Member XP Rider's Avatar
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    Western Utah
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    Dikky, thanks for the clear and detailed instructions. I will try it on the build I am just starting. I have tried various approaches on the projects I've done, but this looks like a relatively easy route to a good finish. Eager to see how it goes.

  4. #4
    Thanks Dikky

    The process looks really good, I have set up some test pieces and put the first coat of sealer down.

    When you thin the stain, do you use the Prooftint Color Reducer or straight metho? Also what ratio do you thin down to? If I want a darker stain I can apply multiple coats.

    Finally, the cutting compound you use for the final polish stage, is that Josco White?

    Thanks

    Secondly,
    Last edited by WombatCBR; 13-10-2023 at 02:21 PM. Reason: Typo

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Wyndham Vale
    Posts
    129
    Yes I use the Feast Watson reducer and as for ratio I have used anywhere from 10 parts reducer to 1 part stain up to equal parts reducer to stain depending on how dark or light I want the stain. I normally have a colour in mind and try and just play around a little bit until I get it as close as possible. I bought some syringes as it makes it really easy to get my ratio right. I have used a sanded piece of pine with sealer on it and mixed different ratios and applied small amounts on the wood and written the ratio near the area so I have a reference later on.

    The cutting compound I use is what ever I can get from a Auto parts shop. I try and get straight cutting compound without wax in it. If it has wax in it it makes it hard to repair later on as you have to use something to remove the wax. This is helpful if you polish through the poly and stain, experience is a wonderful thing. I normally look for cutting compound as most cut and polish have some sort of wax. Ask at the store if the product has a wax in it just to be sure.

    I have never used a cotton buff with rouge as I don't have the setup but I am looking to try it on one of the many guitars I am in the process of building to see which is better and easier. Some shapes would be a challenge to buff but you can get small round buffs for a small tight radius that I use in my drill. But seeing as I can vary the RPM on my drill I don't want to run it to quick and melt the poly, not sure I can do that with a cotton buff.
    Builds :
    # 1 - Non PBG ES-335
    # 2 - Non PBG Tele Thin line
    # 3 - Non PBG LP
    # 4 - Non PBG SG
    # 5 - RC-1
    # 6 - TL-1
    # 7 - ST-1 Custom
    # 8 - SGB-30 + Non PBG SG
    # 9 - Custom JRM-1DC 12 String
    #10 - Custom ST-1 with P90's
    #11 - Custom TL-1 with 27" Bari Neck
    #12 - Custom JZ-6 Jazzmaster
    #13 - AG-1 Factory Second
    #14 - Custom JZ-6 Bass vi
    #15 - EX-1R Factory Second
    #16 - AGM-1
    #17 - EXA-7

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