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Ideas Needed

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Ideas Needed

Postby Scott Freeman » Wed May 10, 2017 3:34 pm

Hello Folks,

I'm working on a neck-through with a maple neck (rosewood fretboard) and African mahogany wings. All of the contours are in place, cavities are cut, etc., and it's sanded to 320. It's ready to be finished, but I'm not sure where to go.

My initial plan was to use a water-based medium amber maple wood dye on the entire guitar (with it being taken up differentially by the two woods to maintain the contrast), followed by an oil-based clear grain filler, then finally a few coats of Formby's Tung Oil. I tried the dye on some samples and didn't like what I saw.

The purpose of the dye was to make it look more civilized/professional, because just tung oil on samples looks pretty plain and rudimentary. So, I'm looking for some creative input here -- some ideas on how to add a bit of something without going too far as I still want to see the wood and use a tung oil finish. The main thing that bothers me is how plain the maple looks.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Ideas Needed

Postby David King » Wed May 10, 2017 4:22 pm

Scott,

I'm not sure where you're getting your ideas of what a "professional" and "civilized" finish might be coming from but I'd urge you to continue to listen to your own aesthetic judgement and play around with other finish formulations.
Getting any stain and particularly water-based stain to look good when applied to raw wood is a very high bar. I gave up on it a long time ago.
Also I'm not sure where you got information leading you to tung oil as a first choice of topcoat but I'd dare to say it wasn't around here. Tung oil is a slow sticky mess of a finish that won't look better over time. What it will do is yellow noticeably over the next 20 years which sort of takes care of the amber coloring you had in mind but not in a way I find attractive.

I'll let others jump in with their recommendations as I'm not the arbiter of current taste.
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Re: Ideas Needed

Postby Scott Freeman » Wed May 10, 2017 5:37 pm

David King wrote:Scott,

I'm not sure where you're getting your ideas of what a "professional" and "civilized" finish might be coming from but I'd urge you to continue to listen to your own aesthetic judgement and play around with other finish formulations.
Getting any stain and particularly water-based stain to look good when applied to raw wood is a very high bar. I gave up on it a long time ago.
Also I'm not sure where you got information leading you to tung oil as a first choice of topcoat but I'd dare to say it wasn't around here. Tung oil is a slow sticky mess of a finish that won't look better over time. What it will do is yellow noticeably over the next 20 years which sort of takes care of the amber coloring you had in mind but not in a way I find attractive.

I'll let others jump in with their recommendations as I'm not the arbiter of current taste.

My idea of "professional" and "civilized" was my own aesthetic judgment -- not some idea I got from someone else. Those are just the descriptive words I used.

I chose a Formby's Tung Oil protocol for this project because that is what my wife's Uncle, who makes very nice custom guitars for high-end clientele, recommended in this instance. Opinions on Tung Oil are highly subjective.

I didn't do this post to get a subtle backhanded response that questioned my choice of top coat and put my words into quotes to try to make me look silly.
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Re: Ideas Needed

Postby Eric Knapp » Wed May 10, 2017 5:44 pm

Scott Freeman wrote:I chose a Formby's Tung Oil protocol for this project because that is what my wife's Uncle, who makes very nice custom guitars for high-end clientele, recommended in this instance. Opinions on Tung Oil are highly subjective.


Tung Oil and Formby's Tung Oil Finish are very different things. The Formby's is a varnish with some tung oil in it. I have used it on many non-guitar projects and it's just fine as a varnish. Pure tung oil is exactly like David describes it and I don't think I would use it on instruments. Polymerized tung oil is yet a different thing that avoids some of the issues with raw tung oil. I use that on fine furniture and it's great. I don't think I want to use it on instruments though.

Scott Freeman wrote:I didn't do this post to get a backhanded response that questioned my choice of top coat and put my words into quotes to try to make me look silly.

I'm sure that was not the intention. I certainly didn't take it that way.

-Eric
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Re: Ideas Needed

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Wed May 10, 2017 6:38 pm

Scott.

By the sound of your initial post, you are looking to get a "richer" look from the woods you have chosen.
Perhaps something to bring out the grain and make it look a bit more amber?

My opinion on this would be to use a two part epoxy. Epoxy works as a grain filler, which would be great, or perhaps necessary for the mahogany. It also would bring out the grain in the maple, while putting a nice amber tint on. You can use water base lacquer on top of it too.
There is some good information on "how to" in other threads on this forum. One of our fellow members, Todd Stock, has also done a nice 3 part video on Youtube on how to use epoxy.

Hopefully this helps.
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Re: Ideas Needed

Postby Scott Freeman » Wed May 10, 2017 6:58 pm

Gordon Bellerose wrote:Scott.

By the sound of your initial post, you are looking to get a "richer" look from the woods you have chosen.
Perhaps something to bring out the grain and make it look a bit more amber?

My opinion on this would be to use a two part epoxy. Epoxy works as a grain filler, which would be great, or perhaps necessary for the mahogany. It also would bring out the grain in the maple, while putting a nice amber tint on. You can use water base lacquer on top of it too.
There is some good information on "how to" in other threads on this forum. One of our fellow members, Todd Stock, has also done a nice 3 part video on Youtube on how to use epoxy.

Hopefully this helps.

Thanks! This helps a lot. I appreciate it.
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Re: Ideas Needed

Postby Dan Smith » Wed May 10, 2017 7:11 pm

Hey Scott,
I made this using african mahog and chinaberry.
The colors were pretty dissimilar. The chinaberry had pink tones in it.
I applied an amber dye to both materials to make the overall color cohesive.
I've done this on several builds where I was not pleased with the color difference.
I usually put some color on maple, even if it's just a very slight tint to enhance grain.
Dan
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Re: Ideas Needed

Postby Scott Freeman » Thu May 11, 2017 7:04 am

Dan Smith wrote:Hey Scott,
I made this using african mahog and chinaberry.
The colors were pretty dissimilar. The chinaberry had pink tones in it.
I applied an amber dye to both materials to make the overall color cohesive.
I've done this on several builds where I was not pleased with the color difference.
I usually put some color on maple, even if it's just a very slight tint to enhance grain.
Dan

That looks amazing. Great job, and thanks for your input!
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Re: Ideas Needed

Postby Beate Ritzert » Thu May 11, 2017 10:24 am

I would try out Your ideas on rest pieces of wood maybe glued together.

I do not find it easy to use dye on "red" woods like mahogany or, in my example, pear. I did not like the effect of yellow or some amber like ton on pear, and i would be skeptical regarding mahogany as well. Even on alder might become difficult to obtain a nice color.

What are your demands on the finish? Extreme robustness? Ease of repair?
Dependent on that the materials and techniques used on violins might be an option or not.
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Re: Ideas Needed

Postby Peter Wilcox » Thu May 11, 2017 2:00 pm

I've used garnet shellac on maple, under lacquer - nitro and water-based - for a nice amber tint. It might accentuate the differences in the wood if applied to both.
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Re: Ideas Needed

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu May 11, 2017 2:53 pm

Scott - what you're trying to achieve is subjective, so you'll have to be the sole judge as to whether any suggestions will work. Remember that the rule-of-thumb is that dyes accentuate figure, while stains (that contain ground pigment) accentuate grain. That mahogany seems to have a nice ribbon-stripe figure, so there is an opportunity to accentuate the figure there. Maple has very little open grain so a stain wouldn't do much. It also doesn't have much figure to accentuate, but a dye will impart some color that you may find more pleasing against the mahogany. That leads me to suggest that you stick to water- and alcohol-soluble dyes and dye-like treatments like shellac (orange, blonde, amber, garnet).

I'd suggest making some test tiles glued up from some maple and mahogany, sawed as you have in the finished guitar, and start playing. Glue up a small billet of the two woods, and take thin 1/8" or 1/4" slices off the face.

Also, I didn't see David's post as ridiculing you. Tung oil is a pain and a mess to use, and he may have missed that you were using a tung-oil finish, not pure tung oil, and his use of quotation marks simply indicates that you were using terms that were meaningful to you, but don't convey much to those trying to help you achieve your goal!! :)
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