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French Polish on Spalted maple w/ epoxy with finished pics

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Randyt, Nov 10, 2016.

  1. Randyt

    Randyt RAAPT Custom Wood Productions

    Jul 21, 2010
    Barrie, Canada
    Good morning Guys

    Im prepping my Spalted Maple top with the West System epoxy to fill voids and stabilize all the wood...it will be sanded smooth (dry) down to 600...
    heres the question...I would like to finish with a true french polish with using de-waxed shellac.

    Originally i was going with a wipe on poly ...but I changed my mind

    Anything to watch out for? Will the shellac adhere to the epoxy in the open void areas?

    any input would be much appreciated

    best regards

  2. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier

    Shellac should bond just fine to the West Systems. Shellac is often used as a barrier coat over the epoxy, when using polyester as the top coat.

    If you want to do the french polishing thing, another option is to do it with the West Systems epoxy itself. My friend Jon Wilson, whose shop is right across the hall from mine, has been using this technique with great results. He thins the epoxy down a bit with denatured alcohol, and rubs it in. It takes fewer coats (and less rubbing) than shellac, and ends up as a very tough finish. A nice medium gloss. He even does good looking sunbursts, all by hand rubbing. I'm tempted to try out this technique myself.

    Edit: I just asked Jon some more about his process. He typically only rubs in only one or two coats of the West Systems on a clear/tinted finish, with a light sanding with mineral oil between coats. The big advantage to using the epoxy as the finish is that it cures hard overnight. With shellac, you sometimes have to wait days or weeks between coats, and many more coats are required. He definitely recommends that you forget the shellac and continue coating with the West Systems.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2016
    rojo412, Jisch and Randyt like this.
  3. Randyt

    Randyt RAAPT Custom Wood Productions

    Jul 21, 2010
    Barrie, Canada
    thank you !!!!
  4. Randyt

    Randyt RAAPT Custom Wood Productions

    Jul 21, 2010
    Barrie, Canada
    Bruce...well i took your advice...and it works very well...i went with the 105 resin and opted for the clear 207. The real key is to get the amount of alcohol or Lacquer thinner correct...

    My test piece;... i first used 3 ml of Lacquer thinner to one metered pump of 105 and 207 (i used the metered pumps rather than weighing it or measuring it!)
    it found it a little sticky and NOT conducive to great french polish technique...

    Second test...added another 3 ml to epoxy/ resin....Much better!!

    I will have pics soon!

    i believe I will have to wet sand in between coats!!...the coat is becoming very glossy!!!
    gsnad2000 and deepestend like this.
  5. Randyt

    Randyt RAAPT Custom Wood Productions

    Jul 21, 2010
    Barrie, Canada
    20161130_185641. 20161130_185627. 20161130_185441.

    Attached Files:

  6. Randyt

    Randyt RAAPT Custom Wood Productions

    Jul 21, 2010
    Barrie, Canada
    The headstock pic was a moch up...its missing the stainless shims under the nuts.
    Most of the pics look like the knobs and pickup are crooked....just an optical illusion from the camera!!..haha...after I posted i went back with my micrometer to check!
    I finished with the west system 105 resin and 207 hardener...then dry sanded down to 600 to give a satin look and feel
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2016
  7. Jisch

    Jisch Supporting Member

    Wow, that looks great!
    Randyt likes this.
  8. Dadagoboi

    Dadagoboi CATALDO BASSES Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2005
    Florida Swamp
    CataldoBasses: Designer/Builder ThunderBuckerPickups:Consultant
    Nice but French Polish is a super high gloss finish. How about calling it Greater USA Halfway Polish?

    The real thing done the real way:

  9. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    I am me
    Hmmmmmm........I thought French Polish was a technique using Shellac thinned down with alcohol, not a call out as a spec for finish.
  10. Randyt

    Randyt RAAPT Custom Wood Productions

    Jul 21, 2010
    Barrie, Canada
  11. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    The finish came out nice a semi-matte sort of thing but it looks even almost sprayed and that spalt top is smokin nice work. I think he knows it's not French fried...
    Randyt likes this.

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