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Thread: (NMC - yet) Finishing schedule and materials for kits

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    Registered User Drew Streip's Avatar
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    Default (NMC - yet) Finishing schedule and materials for kits

    I bought a couple StewMac kits... a tenor uke and a dreadnought. While I'm a ways out from finishing either, I thought I'd gather a comprehensive crowd-sourced opinion on finishing supplies.

    For the uke, I'm thinking about Tru Oil. I've refinished cabinetry using tung oil and I have practiced French polishing on some decorative woodworking. All that to say: I'm not afraid of the volume of work.

    But I could be persuaded to try a spray lacquer...

    ...especially on the dreadnought.

    I only have a 2.5 gallon air compressor, so is spraying out?

    StewMac recommends 4-6 cans of their ColorTone aerosol. Is there another brand I should consider from my local Home Depot? Or is that all "furniture-specific" and too heavy for an instrument finish?

    Thanks in advance! I'm sure I'll need more help on the structural parts, but right now I'm dreaming

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: (NMC - yet) Finishing schedule and materials for kits

    My last three or four instruments have all been finished with Tru-Oil and I am really pleased with the results I have been getting. it is so easy to apply, pretty well non-toxic and can be finished to a high gloss or buffed down a bit to your choice. I apply around a dozen coats, leaving time between each to let the oil dry in a bit, then rub with either 0000 wire wool or onf of the white (fine grade) pads that you can get for rubbing finishes. I have brown (rough) grey (medium) and the white. The pads eliminate the very fine wire wool detritus that comes off when you use it.
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    Default Re: (NMC - yet) Finishing schedule and materials for kits

    Behlen makes two kinds of nitrocellulose lacquer. Both kinds are available in liquid quarts and in spray cans. It is available at the local Woodcraft store. Either should be suitable for a guitar. Their instrument lacquer has a softener added to it to reduce checking.

    Lynn Dudenbostel has been using Pratt and Lambert 38 Varnish for years and swears by it. I don't know whether he sprays or brushes it. You will have to mail order it-- no one carries it in southeast Tennessee. He's finished a lot of instruments with it, so I consider it to be well tested and proven. He described it as an "alkyd based oil varnish" and believes it to be reasonably similar to what Gibson used on the Loars.

    I'm old school and believe in nitro, French polish, and instrument grade varnishes. I can't answer your compressor question. I go down to my old time cabinet maker's place for major spraying jobs. His response to the current practice of using Tru-oil, drying oils, water-based lacquers, etc., is "What the h$#% is wrong with nitro?"

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    Default Re: (NMC - yet) Finishing schedule and materials for kits

    Earlier this year I finished a StewMac soprano uke kit for my granddaughter. Used TruOil for the finish and it came out very nice. Applied about 10 coats and didn't do any serious buffing. I'd never used it before and found it pretty easy to work with.

    I just ordered a StewMac concert kit for myself and will also use TruOil on it. Only problem is that California has banned the sale of it, so I'll have to move elsewhere to buy it.
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    Registered User Drew Streip's Avatar
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    Default Re: (NMC - yet) Finishing schedule and materials for kits

    Thanks for the reply! Did you pore-fill the mahogany or go straight to Tru Oil?

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    Default Re: (NMC - yet) Finishing schedule and materials for kits

    I didn't do any pore-fill. Looked fine to me, but YMMV. You might want to try both methods on a test piece.
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    Default Re: (NMC - yet) Finishing schedule and materials for kits

    Keep in mind that some steel wool has an oily substance in it. You don't want that kind for finish work.

    Though rather expensive, I'm toying with a shellac from Luthier's Merchantile called, I believe, Royal Lac.

    I have sprayed dozens of solid guitar bodies and necks with nitro laquer from ReRanch. MUST use a respirator with nitro. Spray cans with various nozzles are provided.
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    Default Re: (NMC - yet) Finishing schedule and materials for kits

    Not to be off-topic, but I've thought of picking up the Tenor kit and trying it myself. Are people normally satisfied with the quality, instructions, and sound of the instruments from these?

    +1 for Truoil, I intend to use that for more projects.
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    Registered User Drew Streip's Avatar
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    Default Re: (NMC - yet) Finishing schedule and materials for kits

    Quote Originally Posted by Inklings View Post
    Not to be off-topic, but I've thought of picking up the Tenor kit and trying it myself. Are people normally satisfied with the quality, instructions, and sound of the instruments from these?

    +1 for Truoil, I intend to use that for more projects.
    All I know is that it has to be better than the standard bright colored, plastic-finished toy ukes. I just assembled the body (no neck yet) and it has a nice, warm, woody tone to the tap.

    Another note: I discovered a small crack in the outer veneer of the laminate back after I had glued in the braces. StewMac sent me another back, and more braces. Somehow in the melee of housecleaning, the new braces got misplaced, so I found some scrap spruce and hand-carved my own (because I was too embarrassed to ask them for another set.)

    In my opinion, it's a good way to learn about building. The instructions are clear enough and there are plenty of more resources online if you run into issues.

    I'm going a little above and beyond as I execute some parts of it: I'm doing a simple peghead inlay, and I plan to pore-fill before I apply a red->mahogany burst finish and French polish. I know myself, and I'd be disappointed if I didn't experiment at least a little bit!

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    Default Re: (NMC - yet) Finishing schedule and materials for kits

    You can feel confident using a wipe on polyurethane----a nice sanding in between applications. One advantage while using poly is that softer woods that have pores can be made to "piano smooth" if you wipe gently after sanding and then gently wipe on your coat. The small particles of sawdust will settle into the pores and subsequent applications will result in a nice and smooth finish.

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