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Thread: finish touch up

  1. #1
    Registered User David Houchens's Avatar
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    Default finish touch up

    I've been asked to try something I've never done. Can you touch up a small worn through place in lacquer with truoil?
    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Default Re: finish touch up

    I believe that when you're doing touch up work, it's generally best to use the same finishing material for the touch up that was used for the original finish. If you use something else, it's harder to get something that looks like a match once everything is cured.

    Some good information on lacquer touch up can be found at frets.com.

  3. #3

    Default Re: finish touch up

    My concern would be that once you put truoil on it, getting anything else to stick down the road would be problematic. You'll also run the risk of having a witness line where the two finishes meet. Unfortunately, instrument grade lacquer is quite pricey and you probably only need a teaspoon or so, but nitro on nitro can be an almost invisible repair. Perhaps fingernail polish?

  4. #4
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: finish touch up

    It sort of depends on what you mean by "touch up" and what the expectations are.
    I think of "touch up" as meaning a finish repair that is at least minimally visible when done, and ideally invisible when done. I don't think that is possible applying TO over lacquer, but I could be wrong.
    If the object is to simply cover the wear and establish a new finish layer I suppose that can be done... assuming good adhesion with TO over lacquer, something I'm not entirely sure about.

    I assume the customer has some reason for wanting a TO touch up rather than a lacquer touch up, but using lacquer would be the logical choice, as you know.

  5. #5

    Default Re: finish touch up

    I've done it with TruOil, but it worked better with CA glue applied sparingly and buffed to a high shine. CA was faster, too.

  6. #6

    Default Re: finish touch up

    If the wear-through is from pick attack on the ridge of the scroll, the toughest finish possible will be the best. If it's from pinky planting, I'd try to talk him into a finger rest (yeah, good luck with that, huh?)

  7. #7
    Registered User J. Wiens's Avatar
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    Default Re: finish touch up

    I would ask the "asker" their reasons for wanting a Tru-oil repair. If I couldn't wrap my head around their reasoning, I would take a minute to educate them on the properties of the various finishing materials and inform them that Tru-oil goes on extremely thin and takes a while to dry, so there's a lot of time & work involved to build to any thickness that would serve as a proper repair and is therefore going to be quite expensive...Then I'd steer them toward a solution I know I can do fairly quickly. For example..Depending on the situation, French-polished Shellac is something I know I can build up quickly and blend into lacquer if need be..Without breaking out the smelly lacquer and spray gear.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: finish touch up

    From the description in the original post, it sounds like the instrument needs a drop-fill repair. For drop-fills on lacquer finishes, I've had the best results with nitro, and forcing myself to wait 2 or more weeks before final levelling and polishing.

    Sometimes it seems like Tru-oil is turning into the duct-tape of fretted instrument construction and repair. I have yet to find a good reason to use it. If I want a padded or rubbed finish, I prefer French polished shellac, which is friendly stuff once you get the hang of it.

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  10. #9

    Default Re: finish touch up

    Does this look like duct tape to you?

    https://i.imgur.com/jbxkN2y.jpg

  11. #10
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    Default Re: finish touch up

    In that application, no. It looks quite attractive.
    But to me, it doesn't look like the gloss and transparency would match surrounding lacquer in the case of a localized touch up.

  12. #11

    Default Re: finish touch up

    Properly applied, it does.

    If you are talking about witness lines, only new lacquer will bite into old lacquer and leave no witness marks. Everything else - you do the best you can.

  13. #12
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: finish touch up

    Correct finish touch up is art unto itself.
    This whole thread is completely void without knowing what type of finish is on the OP instrument and how it was applied. Recommended touch up on clean french polish would be different from stained wood with nitro or tinted lacquer or poly or staright tru oil... Without this information suggesting any method over other is not helping any and may sound like application of duct tape over broken car bumper.
    I've used Tru oil on mandolins and everyone knows that it can produce beautiful finish but it would be one of the last general touchup materials suggested by serious repairperson. Pretty much the only possibility would be using it over the same tru oil or very similar original oil varnish. (I did that twice or three times on mandolins I made so I knew what is on).
    Adrian

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  15. #13

    Default Re: finish touch up

    I've used Tru oil on mandolins and everyone knows that it can produce beautiful finish but it would be one of the last general touchup materials suggested by serious repairperson.
    That is just not true. A great many repairmen here in America have been using TruOil for years because it works with anything - because of the great compatibility with other finishes. Heck - even Music Man guitars touts their use of TruOil finishes on their necks. Furthermore - the clients are NOT complaining and that is the real standard of what is acceptable.

  16. #14
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: finish touch up

    As I said tru-oil has been used succesfully by many makers (including myself) but doing "bare" oiled neck is not doing finish touch up on damaged area on a completely different finish.
    Adrian

  17. #15
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: finish touch up

    Adrian is correct, there are a lot of variables to consider. And pro touch-up does not rely on one method, “in America” or elsewhere. French padding, lacquer spot repairs, CA, etc. the list goes on depending on the situation.

    So how to answer OP? I would probably not use TruOil, but if that’s the extent of your experience, then either go for it or check out the frets.com suggestion.

    First we need to better understand the OP ... asked to do something new to them. 1) asked to make a spot repair, and wondering about TruOil because that’s the extent of OPs experience? Or 2) the asker actually requested TruOil? The original post is not quite clear.
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  18. #16

    Default Re: finish touch up

    The biggest issue here is that we don't know what finish is on the instrument.

    I agree with RC65 that for drop filling (I've done plenty), nitro would be my first choice. You can lay in layers quickly and they melt into each other. If the existing finish is nitro, you can blend in the repair easily. I have drop filled some bad wear on a nitro finish mandolin with a tougher catalyzed finish (it will resist further pick damage) but it's impossible to pull off without witness lines.

    I live and build in the electric world as well and Truoil is popular there, especially among hobbyists who don't have the equipment to spray (or the money to buy it). It offers the convenience of hand application like french polishing, but with a more durable finish. I have a 60 gallon compressor and a $600 gun so I'm going to spray every chance I get, but lots of guys don't have the $ or space for a spray rig set up. For them Truoil is a good alternative.

  19. #17
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: finish touch up

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    ...First we need to better understand the OP ... asked to do something new to them. 1) asked to make a spot repair, and wondering about TruOil because that’s the extent of OPs experience? Or 2) the asker actually requested TruOil? The original post is not quite clear.
    David is an experienced builder and repairman with plenty of finish experience. I don't understand the situation either, but it is apparently a request for Tru-oil because David is well familiar with other methods and materials for finish repair.

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  21. #18
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    Default Re: finish touch up

    I also don't understand the situation.

    I do understand that sometimes I need to tell a customer "No, I won't do it that way." If possible, I try to explain why.
    If saying no costs me a job, I can live with that. It's part of the cost of doing business. If I say yes and end up with a sub-standard quality repair, that will hurt my business more.

    I said no to a customer earlier this year. If I had said yes, I would have produced an ugly repair on an expensive instrument. That would have come back to haunt me.

    There are a couple of reasons I shouldn't take a job. One of them is I do not have the skill, tooling, or knowledge to execute the repair well. Another is to use methods that I know are sub-standard because a customer insists upon me doing it that way.

    A quote from a somewhat well known musician: "No thanks, I can make my own mistakes without anybody else's help."

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  23. #19
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: finish touch up

    The day you learn to say, " No thank you." is a major milestone in a luthier's career.

    David has great skills and is a solid builder.

    Fill it with luthier's tears; we've all got plenty of those!

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