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Thread: White Stained Mandolins?

  1. #1
    Registered User TJ.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Southern Minnesota.

    Default White Stained Mandolins?

    Hey you Mandolin builders... How many of you have made Mandolins stained white? (Not painted solid white, like the thread down below about the white face Gibsons) but stained just white enough to still see the grain. I'll be staining a really light colored maple with a spruce top. Any helpful hints on the best white colored water based stain to use? (And is it just me or is white stain not that easy to find? I only started looking today and haven't found much) (?) Any other helpful hints on how to do it. Post photos of yours if you have any. Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: White Stained Mandolins?

    Milk paint or Kilz sanded back to show the grain are your main options. There is no white dye, since it by definition adds color to a substrate through a chemical process, and white stain (pigment) will always, by definition, by opaque.
    You might try bleaching, but it's anyone's guess how that would fare with your particular combination of wood species and finish.

    A "white stain" in traditional woodworking is called "pickle" or "pickeling", so you might have better luck searching for that term. That is a more rustic, barnwood aesthetic, and not the kind of thing customers ask for on high-end instruments these days, so most luthiers probably have not tried it.

  3. #3
    Registered User Walt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    West Monroe, LA

    Default Re: White Stained Mandolins?

    They use that finish fairly often in the electric guitar world. Search “Fender Mary Kay Guitar Finish.” Let us know what you end up doing. I’ve looked into it for a furniture project, but never settled on what to try. I was going to attempt to add a small amount of white mixol to some blonde shellac to try and create a translucent milky effect over curly maple. I have no idea whether that will work though.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #4
    Registered User bbcee's Avatar
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    Jul 2015

    Default Re: White Stained Mandolins?

    Hi TJ, when I was building electric guitars, I was always intrigued by this company's product (the mandatory "NFI" inserted!):

    I'm not sure I'd want it soaking in to my spruce top (though maybe you're only thinking of doing the back & sides). Their process looks easy and straightforward.

  5. #5
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    Default Re: White Stained Mandolins?

    There was a trend called "pickled white" some years ago for furniture, trim, cabinets and such. I think there were several methods of achieving the look, and perhaps some internet searching can lead to some possibilities.

  6. #6
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Apr 2017
    New Mexico

    Default Re: White Stained Mandolins?

    When I worked as a picture framer we used white casein paint, rubbed in with a soft cloth then finished with wax, usually on maple. I don't know why it wouldn't work on spruce as well. Shiva is the most common brand of tubed casein. It allows the grain to show through.

  7. #7

    Default Re: White Stained Mandolins?

    I used to do pickled maple in the furniture business. We used a stain from Sherwin Williams which slightly turned the wood white. We would then spray a coat of tinted lacquer, using the stain, to get the depth. On red maple, the the first coat of stain turned it to a pink hue, but the subsequent tinted lacquer coat would reduce it.

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