View Full Version : Finished my IV kit yesterday...

Aug-08-2005, 9:20am
OK, so I finished my IV kit yesterday. It had been lying around, strung up in the white for like 6 weeks.

I stained it using water-dyes (amber and brown). Staining the maple was easy, lots and lots of diluted coats, to bring out the figure...
One washcoat of amber on the spruce top. Disaster. Big blotchy stains on sme parts of the top, nothing at all elsewhere. I thought I'd sand it off... no way, dye has gone really deep, really fast... Tried darker brown, same problem. Ended up deciding to go for a blackface. Used the same anillin dye... 3 coats. Pitch back. Great.

Then, French polish... I actually know how to do it as I learnt it at school. Again, back and sides went great, neck, great, peghead, great.
Top: disaster. The black started coming off. How that's possible, I don't know... pure shellac on water dye... should not come off. Oh well, it looks pretty cool and distressed, and at least, I won't have to worry about pickmarks etc! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Blah blah blahh... Here it is. I sounds very loud, and not very nice... Might need a bit of tweaking, different strings, opening up, etc. We'll see.

Aug-08-2005, 9:21am

Aug-08-2005, 9:22am
I overlaid some burr veneer of some description. Looks the dog's!

Aug-08-2005, 9:23am
The back... Nicely stained for the figure to come out.

Aug-08-2005, 9:24am
The side

Aug-08-2005, 9:24am
The last one... Other side.
Notice I added back binding.

Aug-08-2005, 9:32am
I think the peghead looks pretty good and the cut on the top is done nicely. I noticed the binding on the back. How difficult was that? Very nice looking figure on the back. How does it sound?

Aug-08-2005, 1:57pm
Just my 2 cents but I would go for a total solid black front even if it meant more sanding. The problem with the look on the front is that all of the old distressed black faces I have seen the raw wood showing through has a deeper amber tone to it from your photo it looks like yours is too light of an under color (new wood)

I like the back and sides I won't mess with them. Nice job sure better than I could ever do:D

Aug-08-2005, 2:09pm
Arrh. The problem is that I think my top is already on the thinner side of breakable... I considered resanding and refinishing, but I'd hate to have to stick to light strings just for the sake of an even finish.

However if the tone does not improve, I may well decide to play with the top a bit more... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif


Aug-08-2005, 2:21pm
looks very nice the way it is !

I like the look of "roadwarriors" especially considering that they mostly sound great !

also , reminds me to a poor Bluesman´s gear http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/blues.gif

Aug-08-2005, 2:30pm
Congrats, Germain-- I think it looks great! I think I'll be getting one of these kits to work on over the winter, so I may be in touch for pointers!

Aug-08-2005, 6:02pm
Germain as far as sanding goes I was thinking of only very very lightly sanding the top with a very fine finish grade sand paper only enough to allow a new application of black stain.
It will take better over the black that is already there if you do a touch of sanding. Then wipe on the black stain let it dry and apply another coat on top, the idea is to build up the finish through 4 to 5 coats normally you might sand lightly between each and wipe it down with a clean tack cloth each time. When you get to the final black coat you can go with maybe a rubbing compound/polish to bring up a bit of shine but not too much if you want that "stressed" look.

Yea I agree with you about taking all of the balck off I don't think you want to anyway as you can consider that your base coat. You certainly don't want to reck that top by over sanding but like I said just enough to give the additional coats a light tooth to hold on to the surface.

Good luck if you decide to refinish the top & keep us posted.


Bill Snyder
Aug-08-2005, 9:34pm
Where is the trussrod access on the peghead? Are you cutting the veneer for this later?

Aug-08-2005, 9:57pm
Did you use wood conditioner before staining the top? I usually find that necessary on softwood. I have done some segmentation (scroll saw artwork) using cypress and staining pieces a variety of colors and without conditioner it takes stain very uneven. Spruce is pretty similar.

Aug-09-2005, 12:38am
Considering the great job you did on the back and sides I think you should try to do something with the top.
I have no idea how you would go about it though, but the rest of it looks really good so it would be a shame to give up on it now.
There must be something you can do to bring it up to a level that you would be happy with.

Aug-09-2005, 1:50am
Thanks for all the good words everybody.

At the moment, the mando does not sound too nice, which is my primary 'concern' (not losing any sleep over it mind you!). I'm interested to see what the sound will turn into as, so far, it only has 30 minutes of play. There's a lot of setup work I need to do on it, and a lot of play needed to break it in a bit. If the sound does not get better, I will seriously consider doing something to the top, in which case, staining it again will definitely happen http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

It's an obvious drawback to building from a kit... you have no spare bits of the woods used to practice staining...

Did you use wood conditioner before staining the top? I usually find that necessary on softwood.
Andy, I did not. I did not pay much attention to that part of the book... I kind of just assumed that my super-diluted wash coat would prime the wood... Will definitely be looking for alternatives with my next one... Or leave it as a blonde top... spruce grain looks great.

I think I'll be getting one of these kits to work on over the winter, so I may be in touch for pointers!
Karen, sure! Also, there's a lot of Q&A in the builders section about the kit. It's really cool, cheap, and easy to do. If I get a chance, I'll fly in to one of Don's workshops next year http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Where is the trussrod access on the peghead? Are you cutting the veneer for this later?
Bill, I covered the access with the veneer, because I didn't like the plastic cover that came with the kit, and I had not alternative material to make a nicer one... I guess I'll just cut out the piece if I ever need to access the truss rod, and make a custom cover then.

I'd advise anyone to buy one of these kits, they're a lot of fun to work on, and they put an enormous value on your other instrument(s), in the sense that you will actually get to understand how much work went into building them!


Stephanie Reiser
Aug-09-2005, 4:30am
Re: the stain on the sound board -
You may want to restain with an alchohol-based stain if and when you decide to restain. (Did you apply any finish yet? and what are your plans for a finish?) The alchohol-based stains can be hand-wiped on and you have control to a degree of 'pushing' the stain around on the surface for a sunburst effect, should you choose that route, by rubbing the surface with fine steelwool dipped in denatured alchohol.
The instrument really looks great!

Aug-09-2005, 4:51am
Hey Stephanie,
It's French-polished already... A very appropriate finish for a Frenchman http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif
The polish is ultra thin, so it will not be that big a task to remove, but as I said, I'm not overly confident that my top can take much more sanding http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif
If and when I do need to apply more finish, I'll be sure to check all sorts of dyes, including alcohol-based stains.


Aug-09-2005, 2:52pm
Darn, I want to at least string mine up in the white to see if the neck falls off I and can't get the binding to stick. I figure I should put the binding on before I bolt the parts on even if I don't finish sanding the back flush.

Aug-10-2005, 9:12am
I have a suggestion, but don't run out and do it until the pundits have a chance to point out any potential downsides...

I think I would clean the top, maybe slightly abraiding the finish with fine steel wool and then spray a couple of light coats of glossy black touch up paint in a rattle can from the auto parts store. Follow up with really fine sanding (you will also find the sandpaper at the parts store) It would require careful use of masking tape. What you will get from that will look like the finish on a grand piano. Because you said your top is already very thin, I don't think the thin coats (which are mostly laquer anyway) will affect the sound much if any and the thinness pretty much rules out any other alternatives I can think of.

Aug-11-2005, 3:35pm
Well, no one answered with any negatives and less than an hour later someone posted that they used the auto touch up lacquer over in another thread (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST&f=7&t=26695;st=21) and that mando looks good. So if it were me, I would definitely go with the auto touch up.

Aug-11-2005, 5:34pm
http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif You know, I'm getting quite used to the look of it. But then again, I'm the only one who's seen it! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif
I think peer pressure will make me want to spray it sooner or later...

Aug-25-2005, 11:37am
Leather dye will dye anything !!! It is an alchohol dased dye. I used Fiebings med brown on mine. It had a red tint that turned out real good. You can thin it down to dilute the color or use it straight for a more intense color. The black will probably work over what you already have there with very little sanding since the finish you used is alchohol based. Hey it's your mando. Play it, or play with it some more, either way it's all about what you enjoy. If you try fiebings dye- wear gloves or hope it gets on your hands in a pretty pattern. You will wear it for a while.

J. Mark Lane
Aug-25-2005, 4:17pm
That's what I was about to say -- use dye, not stain. But I don't know what the luthiers would think of that. I've made a few instruments, but I am not a luthier.