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 Post subject: Matte Finish Question
PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:20 pm 
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Walnut
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First name: Dale
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Hello.

After some searching through the other threads, I didn't find anything that would really answer my question.

I have a Les Paul kit with a mahogany body and flame maple top. I have a color I want to stain the body, but I want to obtain a matte finish. Still something that will protect the wood (I live in a climate that is very unforgiving), but matte - almost natural finish.

Can I get some input on the best way to achieve that desired feel?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:00 am 
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There are various flat finishes available on the market, and then there are techniques for flattening many finishes. That's a place to start and consider your direction.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:33 am 
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OK. Do you have any tips on how to do that or what products are available?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:56 am 
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Koa
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Need to know a couple of things. When you say you want to "stain" the body, what exactly does that mean? Do you want an opaque (solid) color, to be able to see the wood grain through color or just to highlight grain? Do you want to use the same stain on both the maple and the mahogany? Are you trying to make them the same color?

Next, by "matte finish" do you mean a smooth finish that just doesn't have a high gloss or do you want more of an organic wood finish like you might see on furniture? Most guitar manufactures have guitars with a "semi gloss" finish - is that what you are after?

Lastly, what materials and techniques are you familiar with? Can you spray finish, use rattle cans, brush or wipe on finish?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 5:57 pm 
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Walnut
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Hi, Freeman.

I plan on using two different stains to create a gradient (for effect) and also to allow the maple grain to show though. I'm planning on using a darker color on the mahogany sides and back.

By 'matte finish' I'm meaning I want to have a flat, no gloss finish. Something that you may find on furniture.

Extra information: I'm planning on just using Tru-Oil on the neck for that natural feel. I don't know if that will be the look I'm going after or not, so I thought I would get other opinions.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:30 pm 
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Koa
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OK, Dale, that helps. A couple of things to consider, there are really two ways to get a satin or matte finish - either apply something that dries satin or use a very mild abrasive to knock the gloss off of a shiny finish. In the first category you have what I call the furniture finishes - tung oil, various varnishes and finishes that are intended to not be shiny (automotive primer is the best example but there are clear finishes that might work for you). The big problem with any of these is that your final coat is what you get - if you have any flaws like brush marks, wipe marks, orange peel, dust, runs... they are there to stay. (well, sorta, we'll come back to that)

Second way to do it is apply something that might come out glossier than you want and then knock that back with steel wool, scotch brite pads, automobile rubbing compound, etc. The advantage of this is that you can level sand the last coat if there are any flaws, then do the satin pretty much to the degree that you want. Obviously this would work with a satin finish material too. This is actually pretty common for people who finish with a glossy material but still want the satin on the back of their necks - a little 0000 steel wool will take that gloss right off (but it does come back with play).

One issue you will need to deal with is that mahogany is an "open pore" wood - it has tiny little pores that look like lines about 1/16" long and a few thousands wide. Maple does not have these pores. Most of us who deal with porous wood will fill them with a paste filler - you may decide that you like the look and want to keep them.

Your desire to do the staining also opens some potential issues. There are two kinds of stains - water based and alcohol based. Basically they soak into the wood and in many cases highlight grain. Often they soak into end grain much faster than cross grain and make it much darker. They can be used to pop the figure in woods like maple, and are frequently used to create sunbursts and shaded finishes. Traditional Gibson 'bursts were done by wiping stains directly into the wood, then clear coating over the top. Big problem here is that once you apply stain you are pretty much committed - if it does something unexpected its hard to back up. The other way to get color (and do sunbursts) is to add the dye to the finish itself - that is much easier to control the color (and can be sanded off if it doesn't look right) but doesn't have the depth that stained wood has.

There are a bunch of material choices and I have experience with only a few so I'll only talk about them. I do use tung oils and various varnishes when I do wood working, build a book shelf or an amp cabinet, but I don't use them on guitars. I want my guitars to look better than a book shelf. I build a class of guitars out of salvaged barn wood and use Tru-Oil on them - that gives me a nice warm organic glow, I can get a moderate gloss without looking "show car" wet look. It seems to look right on the barncasters and I use it on bodies and necks. Tru-Oil is very easy to apply - many very thin coats (I do two a day for 10 to 15 days), you can sand with 400 grit or 0000 steel wool each day. Let cure for 3 or 4 weeks and buff (or satinize) and its done. Here is one made out of 100 year old pine (by the way, pine is not a porous wood) with Tru-Oil lightly polished

Image

My big concern with Tru-Oil would be applying over any stain and pore filler - I've never done it and think it might not work very well.

That kind of brings us to lacquer - it is the traditional finishing material for guitars, Gibson still uses it, and its honestly not that difficult for a home builder. Best is to apply with a compressor and gun but rattle cans are an acceptable method. You can get lacquer that is designed to dry to a satin finish and you can get tinted lacquer. Reranch and Stewart McDonald are good sources.

http://www.stewmac.com/Materials_and_Su ... cquer.html

If I was going to finish a guitar like I think you are describing, here are the steps I would take. I'm guessing your kit has a removable (screw on) neck - if so do the Tru-Oil thing as described above. If it has a glued on neck then I wouldn't try Tru-Oil at all, I would finish the neck on the guitar and then use 0000 steel wool on it

- sand to 320, mask the top and fretboard, pore fill with a paste filler (StewMac)
- pull the mask from the top, do whatever stain you want (I like Colortone stains in denatured alcohol)
- scrape bindings, seal with 2 or 3 coats of vinyl sealer (StewMac)
- scuff sand with 320, shoot 6 to 12 coats of satin lacquer, 3 coats per day, sand to 320 each day
- if you like the finish stop here. If you don't like it consider adding 3 coats of gloss lacquer
- let cure for 30 days (truely)
- sand out any imperfections with 600, 800, 1000, 1200 grits. Choices now might be 0000 steel wool for a little softer finish or hand applied automobile rubbing compound for a little more gloss. Don't use a buffer and don't use any product with silicon or wax

I'll add that the old rule of practice on scrap really applies here but if this is a kit you probably don't have any scrap. I happen to have both mahogany and flamed maple cutoffs - I would be happy to send you some pieces to experiment with (gratis)

I know this isn't exactly the look you are trying for but here is a LP that I build a few years ago and my "ice tea" burst

http://www.harmonycentral.com/forum/for ... 33-/page11

Also if you look at the Tribute series of guitars that Gibson is making now you might get some ideas. They are finished in satin lacquer, some with 'bursts and are pretty good bang for the buck guitars.

http://www.gibson.com/Products/Electric ... ibute.aspx

Hope this helps


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:20 am 
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Walnut
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First name: Dale
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City: Bloomington
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Wow. Freeman. Seriously good info you've provided! I really appreciate it!

So, my neck is a set neck (glue in). Why wouldn't you use Tru-Oil on the neck at all? Will it degrade the glue?

I just remembered there is a guitar with the finish that I'm essentially trying to achieve. It's a Schecter C1 (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Schecter-Gu ... staniac.gc). This may, in fact, be a tad too glossy for me, but I do like how it feels.

There have been a lot of people in my same position that have used diluted ink to get that really vibrant blue, red, purple color for a stain. Is that just a bad idea, or is it a viable solution to get those vibrant colors?

Thanks again!


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:06 pm 
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Koa
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My concern with mixing an oil finish with a solvent finish on the same guitar is that there might be some bleed of one into the other no matter how well you mask them off. Most of the time when I see Tru-Oil used on a neck it is before they are assembled. That is the only way I've used it so since I have no other experience I tend to avoid recommending something. I don't think the oil will have any affect on the glue (assuming you are using Titebond or hot hide).

I've done a number of set neck guitars but have always used the same finish on the neck and body. This is one area I would definitely experiment on scrap.

As far as using ink for your stain, again, I have no experience. I've used commercial aniline dye to stain wood and to tint my finish - it is very concentrated and mixes with either alcohol or water for staining, and will dissolve directly in both water born and nitrocellulose lacquers (that is all I use for finishes). Here is a simple red guitar

Image

It had a red stain applied directly to the wood, then sanded back to pop the grain in the maple. Next a seal coat followed by a bunch of coats of clear with a little of the same red dye mixed into the finish. Obviously I was going for the deep gloss but you could certainly make the same finish matte. The back of this guitar is also maple but the neck is mahogany and I used both the stain and tinted finish to try to match them as best I could (I should have made a maple neck)

Image

ps - I had to laugh when I saw the link to that Schecter - a few years ago I installed a Sustainiac in a flying Vee - that always remains the guitar from hell


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 2:05 am 
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Dalebert wrote:
Wow. Freeman. Seriously good info you've provided! I really appreciate it!

So, my neck is a set neck (glue in). Why wouldn't you use Tru-Oil on the neck at all? Will it degrade the glue?

I just remembered there is a guitar with the finish that I'm essentially trying to achieve. It's a Schecter C1 (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Schecter-Gu ... staniac.gc). This may, in fact, be a tad too glossy for me, but I do like how it feels.

There have been a lot of people in my same position that have used diluted ink to get that really vibrant blue, red, purple color for a stain. Is that just a bad idea, or is it a viable solution to get those vibrant colors?

Thanks again!


I can't speak to dyes but yes you can use Tru Oil on the neck and just about any other finish on the body, but as Freeman mentioned you have to complete the tasks separately and let them cure before assembly. As a player I prefer the feel of a matte tru oil finish on the neck as it's not sticky but very smooth. The rest of the guitar I prefer semi gloss to glossy but that's just me. Tru Oil goes on fine over epoxy pore fills as well.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:10 am 
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Walnut
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Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:18 pm
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First name: Dale
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Status: Amateur
Seriously, Guys, thanks for all the great tips on this. It's nice for us newb's to have your experience on this.

Thanks again!


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:51 am 
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Koa
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Dale, I have some pieces of mahogany and some flamed maple and I'm happy to send it to you. PM me an address that can except a small package (would be USPS unless for some reason that doesn't work).

Also, there is a thread about wipe on poly and Tru-Oil on the main building forum - might be wise to check that out.


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