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finishing question for figured maple

1580 Views 7 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  toid
firstly… I have been to the guitar finish specialty sites.
Most of these guys are not my type of guys… they are just guitar guys.
I got into doing my own guitars because I am a wood guy so I want to "hang out" with wood guys.
Contrary to my braggery and bluster in my profile, I am not particularly a "Finish" guy.
I have had an unfinished guitar body for some time and decided to tackle it. I love it so much that I used it for my avatar.
What we have is a semi hollow body. chambered Mahogany with maple top. (birdseye with a quilted center… and rosewood stripes)
I took lots of advice before I lost confidence in the semi-wood-oriented ding-dongs who were guiding me.
So far I have done the prep sanding and have applied BLO to bring out the figuring and wiped it down. Cure time is 7 days at time of posting.
No sanding sealer. No grain filler on Mahogany.

The desired result is amber tinted top; and sides and back will be painted tobacco brown before cleared.
Suggestions? Process?
Sanding sealer on the top, i guess… also on the mahog? Or can I fill the grain with poly?
Can I get a tinted poly to get the top color… tape off and color the back then apply the final gloss finish?
Sorry so lengthy. wanted to forstall any obvious questions.
Thank You.
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you have not put on any sanding sealer or grain filler on the mahogany….

If I understood everything correct, then you want pretty much the standard kind of finish you seen on most guitars (high gloss) with painted back and sides. You can get PUR 2K (2 Komponont… Lack and Hardner that you have to mix) Lack that is tinted to many diffferent colors for the front. sounds like you need something in the area of "blonde" you just have to contact your local professional lack store/shop, they should be able to help you with ordering a specific color.

The sides should be painted a Tobacco brown? not a problem again there are PUR 2K lacks that do that too in just about every color you want, You just have to look at the catalogue and order it.

To prepare the surface, especially for high gloss you have to seal off the grain/pores, otherwise it looks horrible. That is not too difficult, you will need to use a clear PUR based filler. Again I recommend PUR because its easy to mix, (forgiving) and is quick to dry and produces a great result, its hard and durable finish.

its just a matter of spray on and sand down, (the filler) until the pores and grain of the mahogony is gone… with the maple its is already so fine prored and grained, I doubt it will even need much.

Obviously you just have to mask off the areas you do not want brown after the grain filling part is finished, and spray the brown lack on.

The high gloss is easy to spray on because you put on as much as you can before it starts to run! You just have to have the proper set up for keeping dust out! That is very important, because if you look across the object in the light you will see every tiny piece of lint or dust which settles before the lack has had time to cure. That is the Trick of it all really. that and you need the very fine sanding paper grits and eventually the very fine pastes as well, if you really want to do it properly.

Also keep in mind if you are putting a proper high gloss on it takes up to 4 to 5 days to let the lack cure and harden completly, sometimes longer.

I am writing all of this off the top of my head and I can get more specific instructions if you need them, but again that all depends on the brand and type of lack you are using….

hope I was a bit helpful,

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Thanks Nicholas.
BOY do I miss Germany… Southern Bavaria for 3 1/2 years… Augsburg.
Those changing seasons were spectacular. The forests, the fests, the fest-chicken, the markets, the cabinetmaker shops, the bakeries… those fresh Brochen rolls, those beautiful OLD churches, the people… especially those wonderful older people.
(a longing sigh) I really miss Germany.
The grizzly catalog has 15 steps for finishing a guitar on page 381. They have an online catalog at
I would suggest that you could use some spray shellac to fill the pores. You could spray it on and the sand down with 600 grit wet (I use baby oil to sand my shellac). I use Zinzzer sanding sealer that is a 2lb cut that is dewaxed so you can put what ever you want as the top coat. Once you've got it all filled they you are ready to go to your top finish.

An ultra thin first few coats would go into the pores where the BLO is and also help to pop the curl and figure.
thanks guys.
Karson, I'm a little slow… are you suggesting I use the shellac on the mahogany to fill the grain, and S&S on the maple top in thin coats where that beautiful grain is? THEN apply the finish coat?

I am considering applying a couple of coats of amber tinted nitrocellulose lacquer to get the amber tone I want. should I use the S&S first… honestly, the figuring is pretty "popped from the oil. That ole "chatoyance" (did I even get close to spelling that right?) is twinkling. the photo really doesn't do it justice.

I really don't want to mess this one up.

Thank You Sir,
Yes I'm suggesting to use Shellac to fill the pores. You need many coats. Finish and sand it flat, more finish and sand it flat. You will finally fill all of the pores.

The shellac that I'm suggesting to use is Zinssers sanding sealer. It is dewaxed shellac and you can put any topcoat over it with no problems. Polly, lacquar whatever. If you use waxed shellac then some top finishes won't stick.

This cabinet that I made for my sister was finished completely with shellac.

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Yes. Thank You.
I will get on this immediately.
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