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Thread: Can no longer put this off...

  1. #1
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    Can no longer put this off...

    I have reached the stage in the current build where I have to do the finish; my least favorite of all the build activities.

    I am hoping for advice, and trying to remember the Einstein adage "Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler."

    So here are my questions for finishing an ES style body. My idea is to do a solid color top (lots has been filled in...veneer is not salvageable). I thought I would do natural sides and back where the veneer looks pretty good, although the back will need a little fill right up against the binding in a couple of tiny places.

    So the more I read the more I get confused. I don't have any great preference about how I want it to come out. I'd just like it to look presentable.

    It's summer in Florida where I live, which means hot and humid, and I will be working outside. I can't avoid rattle cans for the solid color, but would like to avoid them for as much as possible.

    I have heard that I can seal and grain-fill with Tru Oil. I have also heard that I should seal and fill first before using any finish. I am also not sure how to do the sanding. So many different approaches on youtube!

    So I am really interested in what folks think is the best way to do this for someone in a hot, humid area with no spray gear...

    What is the order and grit of

    Sanding
    Sealing
    Filling
    Painting
    Clearcoating

    Products?

    I own a bit of Tru Oil but am not married to its use if there is something better, though I have done enough testing with it to know that the three different spraypaints I have tried (Rustoleum Painter's touch 2x, MTN 94 [acrylic] and MTN Black [Nitro]) will stick to an undercoat of TO and a clear coat of TO sticks to these paints.

    I have used auto paint (Duplicolor) in the past with it's primer and won't do that again. It chipped easily and did not even stick well to its own primer... Used a Duplicolor clear coat with it. Took forever to cure.

    Would be happy to be pointed to any good sites, tubes or threads ;-)
    Last edited by fender3x; 29-05-2019 at 10:26 AM.

  2. #2
    Overlord of Music Andy40's Avatar
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    I think you have a similar summer to ours in Brisbane. hot and humid.

    You can't tru oil over paint.

    My preference for dyes is to use tru oil as a finish. If you can't save the veneer, would a super dark stain cover up blemishes? If yes, then stain and tru oil. Tru oil does not care about the heat or humidity. if not I guess paint is the go.

    When it comes to paint I prefer duplicolour (sorry) because its acrylic. I've painted guitars in enamel and it reacts poorly with guitar stands and hangers for months sometimes years. I also did not think that the enamel paints were more durable at all.

    I wouldn't seal with Tru oil, I prefer to use waterbased sealers or normal brush on sanding sealer first. as its semi-hollow it will be ply so not much sealer needed.

    Anyway, thats my 2c, hope that helps.
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  4. #3
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    Thanks for the response, Andy. I may use the Tru Oil on the parts of the body that are finishing natural.

    As for the top, it will need a solid color. It has a bunch of plugs, and sanding through the veneer in places. Does not take much to damage the veneer on these things, and I have done much more than what is necessary to damage it...

    It's funny that everyone says you can't use TO over paint. It's hard to find reports of anyone trying it though. I know that people use it over small painted areas and over decals, so I asked Birchwood Casey. The response I got back from them was literally "We donít know if using Tru-Oil over paint would work. No one here has ever tried it." They went on to say that it is not compatible with "oily" products and warned that using it with something oil-based could result in the paint never drying. The end of their message was "If you do end up experimenting with it, feel free to share your findings with us."

    So I did an experiment. I finished a piece of plywood with Duplicolor metal flake. Then put a few coats of TO over it. It dried hard, and still looks good a couple of years later. Frankly I wish I had used it instead of the Duplicolor clear coat that I ended up using. That stuff took months to cure and does not feel as good to the touch even now.

    A few months ago I put it over MTN 94 spray paint that is acrylic, MTN Black which is nitro and Rustoleum Painter's Choice 2x which, I think, is enamel. The paints are different (the two MTNs are much thinner and matte). The Rustoleum looks and feels thick and is pretty glossy. I just put one coat of TO over each one. In each case it dried hard, and does not seem to have any problems. So, with the four rattlecan paints I have tried, TO seems to do fine. I don't know that I'll use it, but it's already emerging as a better alternative than some things... The fact that I don't need to spray it and that it does well in humidity.... Both were problems when I shot the clear coat on my last project. I got cloudiness and fisheyes quite a bit. I am sure part of that is that I am just not very good at spraying...
    Last edited by fender3x; 30-05-2019 at 03:32 AM.

  5. #4
    re: Sealer

    When it doubt, shellac it! Shellac (un-waxed) is *the* most compatible sealer I've ever used.
    It has great adhesion to everything I've ever put on top of it and is cheap as chips (if you mix your own).
    You can buy Zinsser Bullseye Shellac in a spray can if you prefer spraying.

    The Zinsser rattle cans are easy to find and pretty cheap in the US, but not so here so I prefer buying shellac flakes and mixing my own. I also prefer just wiping it on. It dries really quickly and can be used to grain fill the timber in the right conditions.

    IMO, best sealer EVER
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  7. #5
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by McCreed View Post
    It dries really quickly and can be used to grain fill the timber in the right conditions.

    IMO, best sealer EVER
    So do you actually use it as grain filler as well? I don't know that I need much. I am guessing the back and sides are basswood on the ES body. Does not seem like it will need much filling and sealing. It's plywood like the top, but the top ply is a bit thicker than the top.

    Would not have made a difference on this project, because I had to move the bridge and and fill in a number of holes...long story... But if I ever do another ES I am would ask Adam if he can get the top with the same top-ply as the back and sides. On the two ES bodies I have had to play with, the the flame maple veneer is just way to thin and easy to damage for a ham-handed person like myself.

    Cool as the flame maple tops are, the old makers did not use it. I suspect there's a reason for that ;-)

  8. #6
    Overlord of Music Andy40's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fender3x View Post

    It's funny that everyone says you can't use TO over paint. It's hard to find reports of anyone trying it though. I know that people use it over small painted areas and over decals, so I asked Birchwood Case

    ..
    I did try it once. Silly me. I had finished my guitar in Duplicolour and tried Tru oil. so I put on the coats, then had to wet sand it to get it to flat, the coats just flaked right off in parts. and couldn't stick to the paint. So it wasn't really the application, it was more the wet sanding and polishing that can't be done as the tru oil coats can't grip on to paint very well.
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  9. #7
    "So do you actually use it as grain filler as well?"

    In short, yes. There are a number ways to achieve this (just google it) but basically you apply a coat of shellac, sand flat and repeat multiple times until smooth. Then the final coat(s) of shellac are your sealer and ready for whatever base coat/top coat you want.
    There's also various slurry methods...
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  10. #8
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    Slowly but surely I am coming to the idea of using shellac as the sealer top (to be painted) and sides and back (to be finished natural). Also basically have decided to use the acrylic paint. What do you guys like as a wipe-on or brush on clear coat?

    If I am doing the back and sides natural with a shellac sealer coat, how should I finish after that? Should I use just go on to do a French polish. I have a Spanish guitar that I *think* has been finished that way. I like the way it looks, and love the way the guitar sounds. Notice that it has worn off where my forearm braces on the lower bout tho... So wondering how it will wear? Should I use Tru Oil? Or use whatever I use on the painted top? What do you think?

    A related question is what to do with the neck. I have an aftermarket neck that has a light "satin" finish. No idea what it is, but guessing it's poly. I have had to sand the finish off in a few places and wondering what I should use as a final clear coat. I want it to be a satin finish. Thoughts?

    Should be clear by now how completely clueless I am about this...

  11. #9
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    I have to stop reading...it's just confusing me...

    https://www.woodshopnews.com/columns...-all-just-hype

  12. #10
    "If I am doing the back and sides natural with a shellac sealer coat, how should I finish after that?"

    If you're going to do the top/front with acrylic [lacquer] use a lacquer clear coat over the entire thing. The shellac will accept lacquer really well and you don't have to worry about incompatibility. Also, shellac is too brittle on its own for guitars IMO.

    However, just be aware that shellac will add a slight amber tint to the wood and will get darker with the more coats you put on, and it can take at least a few coats to get the colour even because different parts of the timber can "take up" the shellac differently. Also you need enough coats to be able to level it out by sanding but not sanding through.

    Personally I like the colour it adds and am going to be doing a maple neck this way soon.

    "A related question is what to do with the neck. I have an aftermarket neck that has a light "satin" finish. No idea what it is, but guessing it's poly. I have had to sand the finish off in a few places and wondering what I should use as a final clear coat. I want it to be a satin finish. Thoughts?"

    It is probably "poly" but probably not like the polyurethane you'll get at Home Depot. If you've already sanded through some spots, I would suggest sanding it all off at this point. I know it's more work and a PITA, but you'll likely get unequal colouring if you start laying lacquer, Tru Oil, wipe-on poly etc over the existing finish. And, there's potential compatibility and adhesion issues.

    Re: satin finish - remember you can make any gloss finish a satin finish by "de-glossing" it with a fine abrasive pad or wet sanding.
    And to a certain extent, you can buff a satin finish into a gloss (or at least gloss-y) finish.

    [edited for clarity in a couple of spots 07/06/19]
    Last edited by McCreed; 07-06-2019 at 06:50 AM.
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