Whats your favorite (spray) finish?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Hopkins, Jan 6, 2013.


  1. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    I've tried a few different types of finishes, water based, precat lacquer, wipe on poly, but I have always gone back to good old nitro lacquer. It sprays easy, and is easy to repair. There are some downsides though, its not all that durable, and takes a good three weeks to fully dry.

    For my last few builds I have been using this automotive urethane clear.

    Its fully cured overnight, its builds much faster than lacquer, it sprays just as easy, and its much cheaper than than the Behlens Nitro I usually use. Unless it is requested by a customer or something, my nitro days are behind me.

    Here is a Strat build I just finished for my singer. If its not raining and nasty like it has been the last few days, I'm going to try and get some pictures in the sunlight tomorrow.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    What are you guys go to spray finish, for a hard gloss finish.
    JIO likes this.
  2. Mossmatic

    Mossmatic Compulsive Modder

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2012
    That Strat is bee-yoo-ti-ful!
  3. ACNick

    ACNick Guest

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    Oct 23, 2012
    Location:
    South Florida
    That looks great! I only have experience with nitro and tru oil. I've been thinking a lot about looking in to alternatives to replace the nitro, since that extended curing time is a real drag. Also, I'm paranoid about which guitar stands I put my nitro painted guitars on ever since I read that some of the foams melt through paint/clear. Have you used that urethane over a solid color? If so, what kind of color did you use (I'm guessing it wouldn't be nitro)?
  4. Big B.

    Big B.

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    My go to finish is nitro as well. I learned to spray pre cat lacquer working in cabinet shops so switching to nitro was very easy. I also find nitro to be a very forgiving material to work with and when done properly is, in my opinion, the most beautiful, deep clearcoat over transluscent finishes. It is a less protective finish in some ways than poly, but when a customer pays me too build a bass to their personal specs I assume they will handle it with some degree of care anyway.

    All that being said, I'm always open to New options and I'm going to check out the urethane coating you mentioned. Your strat looks fantastic but its hard to really judge from a picture, how does the final polished finish compare in sheen and grain depth to nitro?
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  6. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    When doing a solid color I usually use a single stage automotive urethane, so a clear isn't needed, but I did use nitro on top of it when putting a clear over a decal. The urethane will work just as well.
  7. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    I think aesthetically its just as good as a nitro finish. The finish on that Strat is as close to perfection as I have ever gotten.

    My favorite thing about this finish other than the fact that you can start polishing the next day, is that you can build up in 2 coats (1 coat = 1 light tack coat followed by 1 full coat) what would take at least 8 coats in a nitro finish.

    The downside is that future repairs would be much easier with a nitro finish if the need arises.

    Also, I wouldn't use any left over hardener about a month after breaking the seal. A can of the finish will last forever, but the hardener starts going bad as soon as you open it. Old hardener will cause a finish that never quite gets hard and always feels tacky to the touch.
  8. ACNick

    ACNick Guest

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    Is the hardener the same thing as the activator that can be found on the page you linked? Maybe finding a source for smaller quantities (<1qt.) of hardener would work well, so you use most of the opened can in one spray session and have less left over to possibly go to waste.
  9. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    Yea same stuff.

    They sell the stuff locally at a auto body supply, they only sell it in quarts. But the price for a quart of the Zolatone is about the same price as a half pint of the stuff Dupont or PPG offers.

    The guy at the place that sells it told me it can be prolonged, if you keep the lid tight and keep it in a fridge.
  10. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member

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    Feb 4, 2011
    Location:
    Fillmore, CA
    Disclosures:
    Professional Luthier
    I use Target EM1000 and EM6000 water-based polyurethane lacquer. It's great stuff to work with, no fumes or flammability to deal with. The end result looks very much like nitro lacquer in clarity. It sands and buffs out well to a high gloss. It's very tough and durable too, not quite as tough as the solvent-based polyesters, but definitely tougher than nitro lacquer. They also have a brush-on version, EM2000. The EM1000 is the base coat/sanding sealer, and is the base that you mix pigments into. The EM6000 is the clear gloss top coat. I spray them with inexpensive HVLP guns.

    You can get the Target finishes through Stew-Mac or right from Target directly. It's not that expensive either, about $45 per gallon. Target has a nice forum on their web site, including a section for Luthiers. Lots of good helpful information.
  11. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

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    Nov 17, 2010
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    Houston Tx
    Cool, thanks for the info. What is they total drying time?
  12. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

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    I wonder whether its shelf life after opening could be increased by using the canned argon stuff.
  13. Reticle

    Reticle Supporting Member

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    Jul 24, 2009
    Location:
    Charleston SC
    I've been using Sherwin Williams & Lenmar CAB Lacquers and really liking them. Of course, having ~25 gallons on the stuff has given me lots to practice with.
  14. shporsche

    shporsche

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2011
    Location:
    Sydney
    I use a mix of 2.
    Water based poly for the first few coats, which can also help with poor filling if you haven't used a poor filler ( I have customers who like the grain showing on a polished finish.).
    Then to bring out the sheen I use 3 to 4 coats of Nitro to finish it off.

    I find the poly doesnt polish aswell as the nitro, also the finish on the poly seems to me a little grabby, so on the neck the nitro is a must.

    However if I can find something that has a nice finish as the Nitro I will be all over it, as buying nitro and thinners is fairly expensive roughly $30 a instrument.
  15. MPU

    MPU

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2004
    Location:
    Valkeala Finland
    I use nitro on wooden instruments and on my latest cf skinned bass I used acrylic auto paints and 2-part acrylic lacquer, both in spray cans.
  16. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member

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    Feb 4, 2011
    Location:
    Fillmore, CA
    Disclosures:
    Professional Luthier
    I let it dry 1 hour between coats. I've wet sanded & buffed out the top clear coats as soon as 12 hours after spraying with no problem, but they recommend 48 hours for full cure.
  17. dremy2006

    dremy2006

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2008
    Location:
    Miami Gardens, Fl
    I used auto clear / hardner on this bass... have a really good mask when spraying this stuff!!

    [​IMG]


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  18. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx

    That looks great man, I think thats a very similar product to what I will be using for most future builds.
  19. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    Here are a few better pics of that strat

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    The body wood is pecan
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    I would usually not put someone elses name on one of my head stocks, but the guy I built this for is a very good friends, almost like a second father.
    [​IMG]
    JIO likes this.
  20. StreetScenes

    StreetScenes Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2012
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    I use a both automotive clear and nitro.

    These were automotive clear
    ImageUploadedByTalkBass.com1357649733.447203.jpg

    If I'm doing a stained finish I use nitro. Both work and have their own pros and cons.

    Attached Files:

  21. Dave Higham

    Dave Higham

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Location:
    S.W.France
    Totally off topic, but that looks as if it came out of the same lump of wood as the one I'm building at the moment.

    [​IMG]

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