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anybody brush on their finishes?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by wilser, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. I've never finished with brushes (apart from the foam brushes I used to apply a fingerboard finish to a fretless board), but it seems to me that applying with a brush allows for a faster build up of a thick film. Maybe it's messier, but still I think there are benefits here.

    Anybody wanna share their thoughts/experiences?
  2. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    It's hard to brush on an even, smooth coat with no bubbles or runs.

    Thinner coats have their benefits, including a shorter, more controlled drying time. Most spray finishes you can do another coat within an hour or two. This allows you to build up three coats in a single day with a more consistent coating than is easily achievable with a brush to the uninitiated.

    However, I don't think you should shy away from a brush-on lacquer if you want to try it. Just make sure you get a decent brush, and take your time. Do a web search for tips on how to get a good coat and give it a shot.
  3. I've used brushes and foam pads, and a combination of both, on a fretless neck. I didn't experience any issues. The first bass I did, was lacquered with a brush all the way and worked very nice.

    The problem, that has already been stated, is that using a brush may not give an even finish. This also depends on the lacquer. Anyway, that doesn't matter 'cause you have to sand between coats anyway. So, use a sanding block and sand long strokes from the top to the bottom of the neck. I usually start with 120 grade when using a brush if the coat is uneven and brush marks are visible.
  4. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    Ask Wish, he knows... ;)
  5. andvari7


    Aug 28, 2004
    I used a foam brush to finish a body yesterday. It's not a great job, but this wasn't a great bass to begin with. I had to repair the neck, and I hated the paint job on the body. So, with the free time I had yesterday (and the can of fast-drying poly - clear satin), I got the rest of the heinous paint off (having removed most of it Friday morning) and applied the two coats of poly. As I previously stated, it wasn't a good finishing job, but it doesn't matter, as I'm going to be using Danish oil (I'm going to try Watco at first) from now on.

    And I'll bet this first effort of mine still puts Wish to shame. :D

    Oddly enough, for the quality of the work (which, as a first attempt, is impressive, if you ask me), this bass looks and feels pretty good.
  6. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    The best finishes for brushing are varnishes which have a slow curing time and let you "pull" out the finish with your brush and rebrush areas that you have already gone over. You don't want to rebrush fast-curing finishes like shellac or lacquer. This means more brush marks, but they dry fast enough that you can sand these out and put on another coat.

    I don't like foam brushes for clear finishes. Brush marks are easier to get rid of than bubbles. Buy good brushes and learn how to keep them clean.

    In general, the trade off is that brushing gives easier application and cleanup and faster buildup, but harder rubbing out. This makes it good for tables and cabinets, bad for small, curvey pieces (e.g. basses).

    There is one traditional hybrid method that I've been considering for a body. I'm thinking of brushing on shellac to get up a good thickness - sand off the brush marks - then use French polishing technique to add a final thin layer and bring up a gloss.

    Anyone used shellac on a body? It doesn't have the protection of lacquer or varnish, but it's been used on violins and classical guitars for a few centuries.