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Finishing Imperfect Wood

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by SplinteredSkull, Dec 25, 2013.

  1. So I got an Albatross Bass kit for Christmas today, which is essentially everything you need to build an unfinished bass. I plan to upgrade the pickups and bridge. It has a mahogany body, but there are some imperfections in the wood (4 small spots near the edge where wood filler was used). I would have liked to do a natural stain or oil finish but I think I will have to do a painted/lacquered finish now. What are some cheaper DIY options for doing this? This is what I've found so far:


    I would also like to know the best way to finish the maple neck and headstock with a smooth, non-sticky feel? Any help, info, or directories are appreciated :D
  2. congratulations on the kit. This sounds like a great starter project. Can you post a picture of the imperfections that you're talking about. I would think that you could somehow refinish that area and make it a little bit better. As far as the maple neck any penetrating oil should do the trick. Just remember several coats may be needed as well as a hit or two of steel wool to smooth it out
  3. oh and the link you posted is nitrocellulose lacquer. Lacquers going to give you that plastic you look which I don't think you want. Also nitrocellulose to be a bear to work with if you don't know what you're doing.
  4. Front and Back: Sap Stain and couple imperfections on back

    Attached Files:

  5. Closeup of Front Imperfections

    Attached Files:

  6. Thanks :smug:! So something like Tru-Oil would work for the neck?
  7. I have not finished any sort of instrument before, so ease-of-use would be optimal. I would be fine with a simple gloss or satin Olympic White or Grey/Silver finish, but I'm not sure where that paint can be found, if a spray gun is necessary, and the process involved.
  8. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    That body doesn't look like mahogany to me. Are you sure it is? Very rare to see kits with higher-end woods like mahogany. Anyway, you have to be sure and do some pore filling before applying any finish. It is not necessary to do it with the maple, but the body needs it. You will probably have to fill + sealer and then fill & sealer again in order to get a really smooth surface. Nothing wrong with using lacquer from rattle cans. They can produce a nice finish.
  9. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Pacifica CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Those look to be patches/filled-areas due to cavities in the grain. If you are doing a trans-finish or clear or stain, they will still show up.
  10. It is listed as Mahogany. More than likely it is a cheaper cut. So something like this?



    http://www.stewmac.com/shopby/product/3883 (sanding sealer)

    Followed by the tinted lacquer?
  11. That is why I was looking to do a painted or lacquered finish. I have only found the supplies for lacquer so far: would it still show up? Disappear under a dark color lacquer?
  12. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Pacifica CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    As long as it is a solid opaque coating, and you've done a nice prep of sanding sealer and emery-cloth sanding - it will look as nice as you want regardless of colour light or dark.
  13. sowilson


    Jul 5, 2013
    flood it with naptha or mineral spirits to get an idea of what it would look like with a clear finish. If it looks ok (and if it is really mahogany), then you could use a dark color pore filler, apply that, spray a spit coat of dewaxed shellac to seal it and then finish with whatever you want. Transtint dyes would work well, you could even do a tobacco burst. Spray top coats of lacquer. I'm not a fan on true-oil as it's not a very protective finish and you will need to maintain it later (or enjoy an unfinished neck once the tru-oil wears off).
  14. They use Tru-Oil on gun stocks and have for years.
  15. Is there anything better to use? I've also considered just doing a Clear Satin Nitro finish
  16. Go with Tru-oil. Just remember less is more. I wouldnt get carried away with wiping a ton on. Go with 4-5 light coats...wiping off excess after a few minutes of soaking in. Steel wool will smooth things out as well..just make sure its dry before you hit it. Also look for strands of steel wool as they can get stuck in the grain..dont stay in one area too long. Tru-oil looks to be linseed oil based so make sure you are not allergic . It will pop any figure in the neck.
  17. I like all of these suggestions..but I think tru oil would be ok otherwise.

    Make sure those pores are filled!
  18. Another random thought. Could you figure out a way to remove that filler from the holes and come back with some kind of epoxy/clear blend to fill the voids. I bet that would look pretty sweet.

    My guess is its not true Mahogany but probably Khaya otherwise known as African Mahogany
  19. sowilson


    Jul 5, 2013
    That's why you flood the surface with naptha or mineral spirits - to see what that filler looks like so that you can decide if you want to apply a clear, semi-transparaent, or opaque finish
  20. Good suggestions: I might pick up some naptha to see what it looks like. Has other uses as well. I'm not sure if filler could be easily removed. To be honest, I'm not sure if it'll be worth sinking the money into to do a lacquer finish rather than just stain it. If it sounds cheap then it's fine if it looks cheap. In the process of building it now