Friday, May 28, 2010

Stain color again

In-between the last pictures I took, and these ones, I stripped all the finish off of the body and the neck, and I re-did EVERYTHING. It's a long story. But essentially, aside from a couple of small ugly mistakes I made, everything was not looking all that professional, and I just couldn't live with it any more.

The last time you saw the state of things, the body had been dyed, and then shellac seal coats applied, then pores were filled with tinted pore-o-pac.

This time, the pore-o-pac remained in the pores after sanding down to bare wood, which I think I now greatly prefer. Then, the body was dyed with diluted transtint dyes. Then, I applied Minwax dark walnut stain over the dye. I like the result.

I've got a very even looking result, very similar to the way it was before, only much better now.

I've really learned a lot about staining and finishing:

  • It's good to dilute Transtint dyes greatly with distilled water, and make lots of applications so that you can "creep" up on your desired shade.
  • Transtint red mahogany dye is very red looking, but so is the brown mahogany dye. If you're looking to get a Martin-ish-looking mahogany finish using red then brown, get something else for the brown.
  • If the Transtint shade is too dark, and you're diluting it with water, you can lighten it with a damp rag.
  • Don't ever dilute Transtint dye with alcohol and then apply that to bare wood.
  • Putting pore-o-pac filler on top of a seal coat makes everything appear too dull, and takes much of the "pop" out of a stunning piece of wood.
  • Before finishing a mahogany guitar, dampen the wood and sand it to 220 grit several times. Sometimes the grain will just keep raising and raising!
  • Naptha is very nasty stuff. It doesn't seem to stink too awful much, but then, the next thing you know, you've got pneumonitis.
  • If you can, do this stuff outside, but not when cottonwood fluff is flying.
  • Primo info for french polishing on guitars is here and here.
  • Here is a good link with info on using transtint dyes.
  • When doing french polish, never put the shellac directly onto the muneca. Load inside of it.
  • If you dye your wood only with transtint dyes, the seal coat can take some of the color off and make your surface color uneven.
  • Minwax stain stays more even in color than dye, when you cover it.
  • I got best results with Minwax stains when I dipped a rag in the stain, then wiped the rag on something in order to get rid of as much wetness as I could, then applied that to wood.
  • Don't mess with baby oil when doing french polish. Walnut oil is much better, and it dries with the finish.
  • You can mix walnut oil directly with your shellac.
  • When filling pores using pumice, don't get too agressive with it, you'll take the finish off and/or remove spots of stain.
  • They say that rags soaked with naptha can spontaneously combust, but I tried, and I couldn't get mine to do that.

I think that's enough tips for now. More will come to me later. Or, call me and I'll tell you more. I can't help you with what to do when your wife starts telling you that you've been spending too much time in your shop, though.

I have a couple of things mounted on my pegboard so the body can hang there. One goes thru the soundhole and two other little guys come out and touch the masked-off bridge area.

The camera's flash makes it look much lighter and more reddish than it really does.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

French polish

I decided a few days ago that more pore fill with the Behlen's pore-o-pac was going to make the guitar too dark. And yesterday I had a mishap where I thought that using pumice only to fill the remaining pores would work. It turns out that it just dissolves the finish and ruins the stain color.

So I thought the best thing to do, with the pores mostly filled already, would be to just start doing build coats on the finish and then sanding them back with 600 grit sandpaper to level out the surface. Looks like it's working.

I have a hook on my work bench that goes thru the soundhole.

Here's pretty much what the whole surface of the guitar now looks like.

And here's a small area on the back that I worked on tonight.

Monday, May 17, 2010

First pore fill

I did the pore fill on the body using Behlen's Pore O Pac. I used the mahogany colored stuff. It is brown like Hershey's syrup. It darkened things quite a bit. I'm kinda pleased with the result.

Over the weekend, I sealed the neck, dyed it, and also did pore fill. I'm not so happy with the neck, but it does look sorta aged, and goes with the body, I think. I might do it over and use dark shellac so I get a more even appearance.

Because the guitar has been stained, I can't just spread the Pore O Pac on, and then sand it off. I am wiping it off just before it dries, which gets the pores mostly filled, but not all the way. To finish the pore fill, next I plan to use pumice, alcohol, and a pad, and do it the way a french polisher would.

Friday, May 14, 2010

First seal coat

I mixed a 1 lb cut of fresh shellac this week, and used it tonight to apply a seal coat over the stain. After the shellac dried, I shot these pics. This is how the surface looks now, I don't have to wet the surface to get a shiny appearance, any more.

With a light shining on it, it appears more red.

Staining the top

I started out by applying shellac to the binding and the white rosette with a Q-tip. This 'masked' these areas from the dye. Then I went around the rosette with the red dye mixture.

After that, I applied red to the whole top, then brown.

As the water in the dye starts to evaporate, the wood loses some of its intense coloring, but that will come back with the finish.

When the water is just about dried, the top matches the back and sides very well.

Here's what the newly dyed top looks like compared to the sides. This also gives an idea of what the binding will look like.