How to make a good translucent black finish?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Funkyaurora, Aug 7, 2003.

  1. Funkyaurora


    Aug 21, 2002
    I want my new custom bass to have a translucent/transparent/see-through black finish,
    but in many cases I find this kind of finish on basses more gray`ish,blue`ish, yellow`ish and so on, than black. Do anyone have good ideas about how to get it more uniform black, and to give a stronger black statement?
    What type of paint gives the best result?
    What kind of technique works the best, painting(spraying)or dying/rubbing into wood?
  2. what type of timber is it?
  3. Funkyaurora


    Aug 21, 2002
    Oh...sorry, forgot to name the wood, but it`s a flamed maple top (swamp ash back).
  4. Funkyaurora


    Aug 21, 2002
    ...anyone, please?
  5. Hmm... I'd mix some good black pigment into your favourite grain filler and fill the swamp ash. Then sand to make sort of black stripes. Then I'd stain the maple black. This will give the figure a 3-D effect under lacquer. Sand again then seal with clear. If not dark enough, then a few coats of black tinted lacquer, followed by clear top coats.
  6. Funkyaurora


    Aug 21, 2002
    Thanks for the good advice Robbie!
    By the way, ...have you tried this yourself, and if so do you have pictures of the result?
  7. well... yes and no.

    The yes part:
    I've filled ash with black filler for that stripey look, I've used black stain on a few figured timbers (although not specifically on flamed maple) to pop the grain, and I've used black tinted lacquer many times.

    The no part:
    Admitedly, I've never used all 3 techniques together on one body.

    Sorry, no photos.

    Oh, and make sure you mask the top when filling the back and mask the back when staining the front. You could also try doing the edges dark black - sort of like a 'burst.

    And make sure your filler is compatible with the finishes you use, and make sure its completely dry - especially for a porous timber like swamp ash - or you'll get sinks in the grain lines, a few weeks down the track.

    There's heaps of good advice here:

    If you register (its free), you'll get access to their excellent library of archived discussions. Recomended.
  8. Funkyaurora


    Aug 21, 2002
    Thanks alot Robbie!
    I find your suggestions very helpful.
    I`ll check out the MIMF site as well.
  9. No worries, Funky. Any time.

    Oh, I forgot to mention - test everything out on scrap, first, and don't be afraid to try a few different guns, as well as different fluid tips, pressures, thinning ratios etc. etc.
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