French Polish Shellac and Waterslide Decals?

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G.S. Monroe
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French Polish Shellac and Waterslide Decals?

Post by G.S. Monroe »

I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with applying waterslide decals on a shellac finish?
I'm about to dive into putting an amber shellac/ french polish finish on a maple headstock. I normally use a spray lacquer finish when I'm using waterslide decals, but this will be a first try with french polish.
I'm thinking using
1) 3-4 coats of amber shellac as a base sealer
2) wet sand the application area smooth
3) place the waterslide decals
4) switch to a clear shellac for 2-3 top coats
5) then French Polish

My concern is how many coats of shellac will I need to be able to french polish over the decals without rubbing through and wrecking them?
Should I just apply lacquer clear coat over the decal area instead? If so, I don't think I can match the finish with the rest of the guitar.
Yes, I know inlay are the ultimate answer, but at this point inlays beyond fretboard dots are a bit beyond my skill level.

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Mark Swanson
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Re: French Polish Shellac and Waterslide Decals?

Post by Mark Swanson »

I just put a decal on one of my electric guitars. I tried a shellac base, then the decal, and then the lacquer. I like to melt the decal into the lacquer, if you do it just right the design will not blur, but the background clear portion will melt right in and become totally invisible. But no matter what I did or how heavy a coat of the lacquer I could not get it to melt the decal! I had the idea that might be because of the shellac undercoat. I could see the clear parts and it didn't look good. I usually use a lacquer base coat and not shellac.
So I took it off, and then I put down a couple of lacquer base coats...then a new decal, and then more lacquer and it melted in just right. My guess is that the shellac did not melt in, or somehow kept the decal from melting in all the way.
  • Mark Swanson, guitarist, MIMForum Staff

Steve Senseney
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Re: French Polish Shellac and Waterslide Decals?

Post by Steve Senseney »

Mark--I am confused.

You first paragraph describes one method and the second paragraph describes a different approach!

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Mark Swanson
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Re: French Polish Shellac and Waterslide Decals?

Post by Mark Swanson »

Steve, thanks for letting me know- I can see how it is confusing to read that. I have edited it, it should be clearer now.
  • Mark Swanson, guitarist, MIMForum Staff

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